Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 New International Version)
This is arguably one of the most incredible statements Jesus ever made about Himself and it ought to have ended any credible claim He had to be Israel’s Messiah. Instead, by raising Lazarus from the dead, He proved that not only is He the Christ but the Son of God as well.
Jesus is the Son of God.
John’s gospel like Matthew, Mark and Luke is written in NARRATIVE (story telling) form. As much as 75% of the Bible is written as narrative. Narrative literature presents to readers a story of events sometimes factual, sometimes fictional and sometimes mixed together. All four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, were written by their authors and accepted by the early Church as factual accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus, the Christ (Messiah). Matthew begins by stating: The historical record of Jesus Christ (Mt 1:1). Mark’s account, like all the gospels, abounds start to finish with references to real persons in real places in the first century time that Jesus lived. Luke wrote in the introduction to his gospel: Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. 3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. (Luke 1:1-4 New Living Translation) And John states near the conclusion of his gospel that the things he writes about are factual and purposeful: The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. (John 20:30-31 NLT)
To be clear, then, the gospels, all four of them, should be read and understood as:
- Factual records of Jesus’ life and ministry, and
- Inspirational literature intended to encourage belief in Jesus Christ.
Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, perhaps more than any other miracle, authenticates the DIVINITY OF JESUS. Only a little earlier the Jews in Jerusalem threatened to stone Jesus because He claimed equality with God (10:33). And to them He responded: “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. 38 But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38 NIV)
Jesus proved that He could do what only God can do – GIVE LIFE!
- Genesis 2:7 says God breathed into man the breath of life: and man became a LIVING SOUL.
- Job 12:10 says the soul of every living thing and the breath of man are in God’s hand.
- And Jesus said himself: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have LIFE IN HIMSELF.” (John 5:25-27 English Standard Version)
Many make the claim or have the very mistaken idea that Jesus never claimed equality with God. They say the idea that Jesus was/is God is one that evolved in the growing first century Church. But, if you believe John’s gospel is a historical narrative of real events; and if you believe in miracles; then the EVIDENCE CONFIRMS Martha’s confession – Jesus is the SON OF GOD (v.27). A confession that Jesus not only accepted but later affirmed: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (v.40 NIV). Jesus Christ is the GLORY (the very essence and person) OF GOD in the flesh: So, the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his GLORY, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (1:14 NLT).
Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
In just two words Jesus moved the hope of resurrection from a day in the prophetic future (an hour is coming – 5:25) to a present-day reality (is now here – 5:25). Just two words redefined a religious dogma on paper as a divine relationship between you and God – “I AM” (v.25). This is the fifth of Jesus’ seven “I am” statements:
- “I am the bread of life” (6:35)
- “I am the light of the world” (8:12)
- “I am the gate” (10:7)
- “I am the good shepherd” (10:11)
- “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25)
- “I am the way, the truth and the life” (14:6)
- “I am the vine” (15:1)
Whenever Jesus prefaced these names/titles with “I am”, He was identifying Himself as God. You’ll remember that “I Am” is how the LORD identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14 when He commissioned him to bring His people, Israel, out of Egypt. “I Am” is equivalent to Yahweh/Jehovah transliterated in our English Bibles as “LORD” and the name by which God revealed Himself to His people (Ex 3:15). Jesus’ referencing Himself as “I am” was understood by the Jews as calling Himself God, so they threatened to kill Him (8:58).
When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” He was claiming to be the source of both. There is no resurrection apart from Christ, and there is no eternal life apart from Christ. Beyond that, Jesus was also making a statement concerning His divine nature. He does more than give life; He is life, and therefore death has no ultimate power over Him. Jesus confers this spiritual life on those who believe in Him, so that they share His triumph over death (1 John 5:11-12). Believers in Jesus Christ will experience resurrection because, having the life Jesus gives, it is impossible for death to defeat them (1 Corinthians 15:53-57).
Everyone wants to LIVE! Everyone wants to enjoy LIFE! Those who say otherwise are likely troubled emotionally, disabled mentally, darkened spiritually or just plain dishonest (Ephesians 5:29). The normal, healthy attitude about life is you want to LIVE IT! Death is antithetical to life and we do all we can to avoid it. We take pills, lose weight, have surgeries, exercise, etc. And, although we’ve managed to extend the average lifespan, we know death is inevitable! So, we look BEYOND DEATH to the HOPE of ETERNAL LIFE or life after death. Virtually every culture contemporary and historic believes in an afterlife. Orthodox Jews, like Martha, believed in the resurrection, a day foretold by the prophet Daniel when, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2 NIV) At Word of Life Evangelical Church, we believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead; of the believer to everlasting blessedness and joy with the Lord, of the unbeliever to judgment and everlasting conscious punishment. Jesus is WHY we believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead:
- He proved His power as the Son of God to raise the dead to life. Lazarus was the third person Jesus resurrected. He had been dead four days and already begun to decay.
- Jesus resurrected Himself by His own power on the third day following His crucifixion, and He will never die again.
- He rose from the grave BODILY, and Scripture declares He is the first of many who will follow: Christ (the Messiah) [is] the firstfruits, then those who are Christ’s [own will be resurrected] at His coming. (1 Cor 15:23 Amplified Bible)
- He said those who believe in Him will live, even though he dies (v.25) – that is the RESURRECTION.
- He said the dead (multiple) would hear His voice (just like Lazarus), come to life and live ETERNALLY [John 5:23].
Those who have no faith/religion criticize them that do for believing in things, they say, are not real:
- Faith means not wanting to know what is true. — Friedrich Nietzsche (19th century German philosopher spoke of “the death of God” and had a profound influence on western culture)
- A man is accepted into a church for what he believes, and he is turned out for what he knows. — Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain – American author)
- It’s an incredible con job when you think about it, to believe something now in exchange for something after death. Even corporations with their reward systems don’t try to make it posthumous. — Gloria Steinem (American feminist, journalist and social political activist)
And, if there were no actual SUBSTANCE of things HOPED for, or EVIDENCE of things NOT SEEN, they might be right. But Jesus is, by virtue of His RESURRECTION power and by the LIFE He gives right now to all who believe in Him, the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). JESUS CHRIST is both our HOPE (RESURRECTION) and the SUBSTANCE (LIFE) of our hope!
For Christians, eternal life is NOT something just ahead of you, it is IN YOU! For believers in Jesus, eternal life begins NOW, i.e. the moment you believe in Him:
- The testimony is this: God has given us eternal life, and this life has its source in his Son. Whoever has the Son has this life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11-12 Good News Translation) Notice it is present tense – has this life.
- but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. (Ga 2:20-21 Good News Translation) The life we LIVE NOW is by faith in Jesus, the Son of God.
- It is described in part by His other “I am” statements: “bread of life” – sustenance; “gate” – the way in, community; “the good shepherd” – sustenance, security, guidance; “the way, the truth and the life” – direction, understanding, purpose; “the vine” – vitality, productivity, connection.
But eternal life is more than spiritual, mystical or immaterial. It is very much physical, bodily and material. Jesus proved the SUBSTANCE of that as well:
- Lazarus, already decaying after four days, was raised completely whole.
- Jesus’ own resurrection was material, not spiritual. The women who were first at the tomb on resurrection morning, found the stone rolled away but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24:3)
- Jesus’ resurrection body was corporeal, powerful, incorruptible and empowered by the Holy Spirit. And our resurrection bodies will be like His:
It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
45 The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.” But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. 46 What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. 47 Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. 48 Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. 49 Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. (1 Cor 15:42-49 NLT)
Other religions can talk about life after death, but only Jesus Christ gives you the substance (ETERNAL LIFE) of what you hope for (RESURRECTION) right now! “Do you believe this?” (v.26).
 WOLEC Statement of Faith, Article 12.