Jesus does not merely give us resurrection and life … He IS our resurrection and life.
This profound truth is the undercurrent of Jesus’ I AM statement to Martha in John 11 facing the death of Lazarus.
In this episode, we explore John 11 and what it means for Jesus to be the resurrection, how resurrection is far more than a future hope or event, and why it should be the present reality of our lives today.
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John 11:1, 3-6, 17, 19-27 – Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. … Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. … So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. … And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Jesus is the Resurrection
The key question Jesus is asking in the passage is “will you trust Me?”
Our term “believe” is often reduced to a mental ascent, but Jesus is asking if Martha will fully place her hope, trust, and faith in Himself (not anything else). Such trust changes the actions of one’s life to come in agreement with what one believes.
In order to give a fresh take on the passage, permit me to amplify the passage with a focus on trust. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever trusts in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and trusts in me shall never die. Do you trust this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I trust…'” (John 11:25-27, NRJ amplified).
Here are a few considerations of what it means for Jesus to be the resurrection and life in our lives …
1. Resurrection is more than an event
Martha was thinking about resurrection as an event on the “last day” … Jesus was talking about Himself. Jesus links Himself so tightly to resurrection and life that they become not something He gives, but He is the very thing needed.
2. Resurrection is present (not merely a future event) … the “now” and “not yet”
There is a dynamic in Scripture we often call the “now and not yet.” Like our inheritance in Ephesians 1 or eternal life in John’s Gospel … it is fully realized and climaxed in the future, but experienced now. So too the resurrection will be fully experienced in the future (we have a bodily resurrection in the future; see: 2 Cor. 5:6, 8 and John 5:21, 25) but we experience a spiritual resurrection now. It is the now and not yet paradox.
3. Resurrection is not an abstract concept but a reality
Martha held the Jewish concept that there would be a resurrection on the “last day” but Jesus didn’t want an abstract concept or hope but a concrete conviction and reality in her life.
D.A. Carson writes, “Jesus has repeatedly mentioned resurrection on the last day (5:21, 25–29; 6:39–40). In this he has been in line with mainstream Judaism. But these references have also insisted that he alone, under the express sanction of the Father, would raise the dead on the last day. The same truth is now repeated in the pithy claim, I am the resurrection and the life. Jesus’ concern is to divert Martha’s focus from an abstract belief in what takes place on the last day, to a personalized belief in him who alone can provide it. Just as he not only gives the bread from heaven (6:27) but is himself the bread of life (6:35), so also he not only raises the dead on the last day (5:21, 25ff.) but is himself the resurrection and the life. There is neither resurrection nor eternal life outside of him.” (D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 412.)
4. Resurrection is the passageway through death
As believers, though we physically die, it is not the end … there is a greater hope on the other side of death. Death, therefore, becomes a passageway to greater life.
As one author said it, “[Resurrection] happens not in spite of death but because of it. Christian faith offers hope because it faces death squarely and moves through it, not around it. It means that pain, disappointment, and heartache are not final realities.” (Rob Fuquay, The God We Can Know, ch7)
5. Resurrection is not a return to what once was (a restoration) but a transformation into something greater
I like how Fuquay said it in this quote, “The way people talk about resurrection, I wonder if many times they mean resuscitation instead. The two are different. Resuscitation means bringing back to life—returning life to the way it was. Resurrection means a whole new life, a different life.” (Rob Fuquay, The God We Can Know, ch7)
6. Resurrection is not the end but the means to greater life
Death cannot break a real relationship with God! In fact, it only enhances it.
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NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) is a Christian who has an overwhelming passion for Jesus, the Gospel, and Studying God’s Word. He is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps other believers understand and apply the Bible as they grow and mature in their faith—desiring that they gain greater intimacy with Christ, experience the victorious Christian life, and transform the world through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Read more about him here.
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Many Christians feel frustrated because they don’t grow spiritually. The Deeper Christian Podcast helps equip Christians to understand the Word of God and cultivate a passionate love for Jesus that turns the world upside down.
Whether you want to learn how to study God’s Word, grow in your faith, cultivate a powerful and effective prayer life, share the Gospel boldly, deepen your intimacy with Jesus, live victoriously, or transform the world through the indwelling life of the Holy Spirit, the Deeper Christian Podcast with NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) will encourage and equip you to grow spiritually and live a Christ-centered life.