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Who Do You Say I Am?

Reflections on Jesus' titles throughout the Scriptures

Resurrection and the Life

by Dr. Joseph Matos, DBU Faculty

Today's Reading

John 11:25-26

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

In the town of Bethany of Judea was a family of two sisters, Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Jesus loved this family (John 11:5). So, it must have struck the sisters as odd when Jesus did not immediately come to them when he received word from their messengers that Lazarus was sick. Instead, he stayed where he was for two more days. Yet, like when Jesus fed the five thousand, he knew what he was going to do here: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (11:4).

When the two days had passed, Jesus determined to return to Judea, despite his disciples’ protests that people were there who had earlier tried to stone him. But he was going to wake up his friend who had fallen asleep. Jesus’ disciples, like the crowds so often did, misunderstood his words. They took Jesus literally and reckoned that sleep would be good for Lazarus. Jesus then made plain to them that Lazarus was dead and said he was glad he wasn’t there with Lazarus, that they (the disciples) might believe (11:14-15).

Reading Jesus’ statement that Lazarus was dead might leave the first-time reader of this narrative with the impression Jesus was mistaken when he had earlier said Lazarus’ illness would not end in death. But consider Jesus’ words again, “I am going there to wake him up.”

As Jesus arrived in Bethany, Martha went out to meet him. Imagine the despair behind her words, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (11:21), immediately followed by her words of hope, “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (11:22). She did not expect what was about to happen. When Jesus said Lazarus will rise again, Martha acknowledged that would happen at the resurrection at the last day. Jesus spoke about Lazarus rising then, not later, and in response, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (11:25-26)

Martha’s response is a confession most consistent with the Gospel of John’s purpose statement. She said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world” (11:27). After Mary arrived and spoke the same words of despair to Jesus as Martha, Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus. He ordered the stone rolled away and called forth Lazarus from the tomb. Jesus woke up Lazarus just as he said he would. Lazarus personally experienced Jesus as the resurrection. Even though Lazarus died, because he was a believer in Jesus, he lived.

Jesus doesn’t merely provide resurrection and life. He is the resurrection and the life.

The promise of life is for anyone who believes.

Jesus’ question to Martha is his question to you: “Do you believe this?”

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