John 11:7-16 : Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.” The disciples told him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn’t in him.” He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend, Lazarus, has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” The disciples therefore said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. So Jesus said to them plainly then, “Lazarus is dead. I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let’s go to him.” Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go also, that we may die with him.”
Jesus was ready to go visit His friends near Jerusalem but His disciples knew that He was in real danger from the Pharisees there. Jesus, however, knew the safest place on earth. It is the safest place for anyone. The safest place on earth for you and I is to be exactly where God wants us to be. We should be walking by the light of God’s will just like Jesus did. I am pretty sure that, in Jesus case, it was a great mental temptation for Him to not rush off to see Lazarus the very first mention of his sickness, but He didn’t and He followed the Father’s plan, seeing in advance the blessing it would bring.
Had man not sinned in the Garden of Eden, death would not be something we would be talking about. Even so, people still don’t like talking about death. This is evidence that death was not Gods intention for man.
Jesus often referred to death as “sleep.” Jesus greatly disregarded the power of death. He was in complete control over it. He knew that death would never be permanent for anyone who believed in Him. It appears, here, that the disciples were not yet used to Jesus calling death “sleep” here. Jesus, in code, said that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. But the disciples continued to struggle with the whole idea.
It is clear that they didn’t really understand. Jesus was going to use this to help them believe.
Thomas’ comment was a bit comical. Jesus means it literally that “Lazarus is dead” and “I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” He does not intend to “die with him.” Thomas chose to use death symbolically in his comment. Perhaps He thought He was being poetic and trying to match Jesus’ style, but it really sounded out of place. This is easy to do as a human when grappling with the words of God. It is important to trust in the Holy Spirit in order to understand His words; to realize when they should be taken literally and when they are intended symbolically. Later when the disciples were given the Holy Spirit, they were able to speak more intelligently about these things.