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Jesus is The Resurrection and the Life

An artistic rendering of Jesus and others standing outside of a tomb as someone walks from it.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV)

Jesus had a deep friendship with Mary of Bethany, her sister, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus. He often stayed at their house. He received word from the sisters that Lazarus was ill, and had this surprising reaction:

When He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days, and then He said to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” (John 11:4-7 NIV)

First, He told His disciples, "This sickness will not end in death." Great news, right? Then, Jesus dawdled. He delayed. He stayed where He was for two more days before telling them, "Let us go back to Judea." I suspect the disciples were not too worried for Lazarus, since Jesus had told them his sickness would not end in death.

But then, without further word from Bethany, Jesus told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (John 11:11 NIV) Somehow Jesus knew Lazarus had died. Now Jesus was going to "wake him up." Spoiler alert: Jesus was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. What He told them was true. The sickness would not end in death.

So Jesus set out for Bethany. Martha received word He was coming, and met Him on the road into town. When she met Him, she cut to the chase:

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” (John 11:21-22 NIV)

Even though Martha was filled with grief, she was also filled with faith. She just knew Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had only arrived in time. Healing Lazarus would have been a no-brainer for Jesus. And even now - even though her brother is dead - she believed the Living God would give Jesus whatever He asked.

Jesus told Martha, "Your brother will rise again." Martha responded with, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus then went to the deepest part of Martha's heart with a statement and a question:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NIV)

Resurrection and life were standing before Martha. Resurrection and life were not a doctrine to believe, they were embodied in a Person. Jesus does not just give resurrection and life to a person who believes in Him some day when they die and enter eternity. Jesus is resurrection and life. Resurrection is not a far-off hope for a believer in Jesus Christ. It is a present reality. What was dead is raised to life. And Jesus' question to Martha is the same question we all must answer: Do you believe this?

The Hebrew word for "believe" is the word used for entrusting the full weight of one's body to a staff, leaning on it without fear it might break. I believe eternal life has already begun for me and for all who lean the full weight of our trust onto Jesus. To believe in Christ is to trust Him with everything - my life, my future, my career, my family, my health, my finances, my relationships, my priorities. He is enough. And He is resurrection and life!

Martha responded with trust in the One she loves:

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27 NIV)

She believed Jesus to be the Son of God, the Messiah. That meant anything was possible. And she was right.

Mary received word Jesus had come, and came out to meet Him. She says the very same thing to Him that Martha had said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Jesus was moved with compassion for the sisters whom He loved. Jesus wept. (John 11:35 NIV) He wept not for His own grief, but in empathy with theirs.

Jesus then came to the cave where Lazarus was entombed. He called for the stone to be moved from the mouth of the cave. Martha, the realistic sister, protested.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” (John 11:39 NIV)

Jesus' response revealed the what was going on in Martha's mind and heart.

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40 NIV)

Martha may have just expressed her faith in Jesus as the Son of God, but dead is dead, right? The stench of death witnessed against the possibility of Jesus being able to do anything for Lazarus now.

They rolled away the stone. Jesus thanked His Father for always hearing Him. Then Jesus spoke life into death. "Lazarus, come out!" He spoke it in a loud voice, with the authority of the One who is resurrection and life. And Lazarus came out of the grave alive!

Death is the ultimate enemy of fragile human beings. No one gets out of this life alive. With apologies to Billy Crystal in The Princess Bride, there is no such thing as "mostly dead." We will all face death at some point. But to Jesus, death is like sleeping. To the One who is resurrection and life, human death is like taking a nap. He can awaken us. He can call us out of death into life. And receiving the life He gives means it we will live forever into eternity.

Do you believe this? Are you leaning your whole weight onto Jesus? Then death has no hold on you. With the Apostle Paul, we can say, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 NIV) And with death conquered, we are free to truly live. Hallelujah! Why a Savior!


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