The Resurrection and the Life

by Gene Strother

John 11:25,26 - “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”

My friend, Clark Bosher, tells of helplessly watching as a lady was burned to death in an auto accident. He talked about the “what ifs” that plagued him about the incident. What if he had gotten to her just a few minutes earlier? Could he have saved her?

Life is that way for us. We are not always in the right place at the right time, and sometimes we regret it (even though we usually have no control over it.)

Can you imagine the feelings which welled up inside of Martha and Mary? These sisters knew that if Jesus had only been there He could have kept their brother from dying. And Jesus knew that He could have been there, but He chose not to be. So Lazarus died. The result was confusion and bitter loss for the sisters and deep pain for the Lord, who loved Lazarus and his sisters very much (see v. 5).

Why did Jesus tarry two days after he heard the news of Lazarus’ illness (v. 6)? Why did He not immediately go to the side of His dying friend? Or, why did He not just speak the words or think the thoughts that could have brought healing to Lazarus’ body? The answer is that this was God’s will and for God’s glory (v. 4). Lazarus died, yes. But that was not the ultimate result of the illness; it was only the temporary result. Ultimately, God would be glorified and Jesus’ followers would have their faith strengthened (v. 15).

But my present focus is on Jesus’ response to Martha’s statement in v. 24. This response is found in vv. 25, 26 (above). Let’s break it down and let it enrich our lives...

I. “I am the resurrection and the life”—what comprehensive words!

What did Jesus mean by that? I once read an article written by a close associate of J. Frank Norris. This man was asked about the role Norris played in American fundamentalism. The man answered, “J. Frank Norris is American fundamentalism. Without him the movement would not even exist.”

That is what Jesus meant by His statement, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Without Him there could be no resurrection. And without Him there could be no life...

I am the resurrection.” Think about it. If Jesus Christ had never come, died on the cross, risen from the dead, and promised life to all who believe in Him, what right would anyone have to expect to be resurrected? Would we even have such a word in our vocabulary, if not for the precious Word of God and the ministry of our Lord Jesus? What hope could we give to those who grieve over the loss of a loved one? What could we say? “Well, at least you have your memories. Be thankful for the time you had.” That’s what you might have to say to the lost. But to believers we say with Paul: “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thess. 4:13,14).

“...And the life.” Jesus Christ is the source of life (John 1:4; Acts 17:28; John 10:17,18). That is why He can promise eternal life. That is why He could promise that He would return to life. And that is why He can promise to resurrect our bodies.

II. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”—what compassionate words!

Before you believed, you were dead:

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). “For the wages of sin is death...” (Rom. 6:23).

Notice the word “is” in Romans 6:23; not “will be,” but “is.” The sinner is already receiving his wages. He is already spiritually dead!

So Jesus came to minister to dead people. What compassion He had! He did not seek out the holy and whole, but the sinful and needy (Mark 10:45; Matt. 9:12,13).

Remember the man who lay by the Pool of Bethesda for 38 years, trying to get into its healing waters? He couldn’t. Apparently others did. Jesus didn’t go to them: He didn’t need to. But He went to this man because this man could not come to Him. That’s how He has come to all of us who are saved; compassionately, with healing in His wings. He came to us because there was no way we could scale the mountain of God’s holiness and come to Him.

III. “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die”—what comforting words!

First, let’s define death. Look at John 11:11-14 of our text chapter. Jesus said, “Lazarus sleepeth.” He meant that Lazarus was dead, as you and I count death.

Obviously, since God says that unbelievers are dead, He must see death differently. And He does. Go back to the Garden of Eden. God told Adam, “In the day that ye eat (of the forbidden fruit) ye shall surely die.” Yet, Adam lived 960 years. Did God lie? No. Adam did die—spiritually. Death is separation. Physical death occurs when the soul is separated from the body; spiritual death occurs when the soul is separated from God, the author and giver of life. This is why eternal damnation is called the “second death.”

Jesus’ use of the word “sleep” in reference to the physical demise of saints is adopted by the New Testament writers. Throughout their writings, they use similar language.

Why is this so? Because saints don’t die; they depart (2 Cor. 5:8). Actually, they arrive. From our perspective, we say, He’s gone.” But in heaven, they shout, “He’s home!” There is an African tribe in which the believers take this so seriously that they never say “He’s gone” when a loved one passes on. Instead they exclaim, “He has arrived!”

IV. “Believest thou this?”—what compelling words!

The truth of Jesus’ statement is not in question. The only question is, “Do you believe?” What if you refuse to believe? Does your unbelief make it untrue? Absolutely not (Rom. 3:3,4)! Truth is objective; not subjective. Before Columbus sailed to America the world was round, even though many refused to believe it. Before Galileo, the world revolved around the sun, though people did not believe it. Truth can be discovered by faith, but it cannot be discarded by unbelief.

Jesus Christ. The Resurrection. Jesus Christ. The Life. Without Him you have no hope of either. But with Him, you have the promise—from God, who cannot lie—of both.

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