“The Resurrection and the Life” – Brian Gates
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:25-27).
I am in awe of the passage above. Carefully read those verses again (and maybe again). See what I mean? Wow!!
In John’s Gospel, there is no shortage of the statements from Jesus or about Jesus that are astonishing. Among them are eight instances where Jesus uses some unique form of “I am”. In a debate with the Jews, Jesus made a direct claim to divinity when He said, “’Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple” (John 8:58-59).
The immense significance and gravity of that declaration can’t be overstated. He was echoing Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: “I am has sent me to you.”’” Likewise, in Isaiah 41:4b the LORD says, “I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he.”
Jesus used “I am” in a manner reserved for God Almighty. Given the severe reaction of the Jews, there can be little doubt to Jesus’ meaning. They tried to kill Him by stoning for what they (wrongly) considered utter blasphemy. The mob clearly understood that Jesus was claiming to be the Son of the God. So when we read the other instances of “I am” in John where He includes a predicate, such as, “I am the Bread of Life” (6:35), we are similarly to understand that Jesus is illuminating some aspect of His divine nature.
Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus dies in John 11. When Jesus arrives in Bethany after Lazarus has been in the tomb four days, he attends to the grieving sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha expresses regret that Jesus hadn’t arrived earlier before her brother Lazarus died, believing he would have surely been healed. When Jesus assures her that Lazarus will rise again, she replies, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24b). While true, Jesus had something more immediate in mind. He then speaks those powerful words to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). He proceeds to ask Martha if she believes this. “She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27, emphasis mine). Israel’s long-awaited Messiah stands before her. And Martha understands and believes!!
Yet a few verses later, when Jesus was in front of the tomb of Lazarus, Martha had more doubts. “Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days’” (John 11:39). Throughout this whole narrative one can sense the doubts of everyone involved, from the sisters to the bystanders. If only Jesus had been there while Lazarus was still alive, something might have been done! Did He really love Lazarus, us?
John records Jesus as being troubled and deeply moved by their grief and their unbelief. In His great love for them, Jesus had delayed His visit until this specific, appointed time that the Glory of the Lord might be revealed and that those that witnessed it might believe.
“And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me’” (John 11:41-42, emphasis mine).
How often we, too, let doubts creep in and our faith wavers. May it strengthen us in those times to be reminded that He truly is the Resurrection and the Life. Lift your gaze upon Him!