I am the resurrection and the life
John 11:1-46 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” 16 Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”
17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.
30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”
38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.
There are other accounts of Jesus raising the dead. On several other occasions He restored life to people who were dead. Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” We know of course that there is a difference between this natural life in which we all will die and the spiritual, kingdom life in which those who live, believing do not die, but have eternal life. In today’s text both Martha and Mary said: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Even some of the others said: “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?” How many times do we like them, say or ask the same thing. Lord where were You, why did they die? It is truly a question that we all struggle with at times. Although we know that there is: a time to be born and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:2) we still question when that time comes for those we love.
In today’s text Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave after four days. Often the accounts of resurrection lead to questions and denials by those who do not believe. They will say that perhaps they were just in a comma and really not dead or will seek some other medical or scientific explanation. In our time, those who have experienced near death or resurrection experiences are met with skepticism and doubt. It is difficult for people to believe that Jesus has power over life and death; power in heaven and on earth. The text says: Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” It is difficult to see beyond the circumstances and the situation of the natural world. It is difficult to see life with the eyes of faith when we see death with our physical eyes. Do we have the faith to remove the stone? Jesus says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains. Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Jesus does indeed have authority over life and death. He can, according to the Father’s will keep anyone from dying or He can raise them up again. For us, we need to know and believe that physical death is nothing for us to fear. The psalmist says: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. (Psalm 23:4) Death is merely a shadow. It has no substance and no power over us. God says He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Jesus says He will be with us always. (Matthew 28) In Romans 8:38-39 Paul says: I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
It is natural and normal that we mourn and grieve when someone dies. It does not indicate a lack of faith. God created us to need and want fellowship. From the very beginning He said it is not good for man to be alone. If God did not expect that we would mourn the loss of those we love, Jesus would not have said: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) We are not rebuked for our mourning. Jesus says we are blessed because the God of creation will comfort us. Here is some of that comfort we have. Returning to what Ecclesiastes 3:2 says there is: A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. Jesus, speaking of His own death in John 12:24 says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” We need to not let our mourning turn to bitterness, but rather we need to take comfort that the lives of those who we love continue to bear fruit through our lives as we celebrate their resurrection and life.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ and precious Holy Spirit; You never leave us. Death cannot separate us from Your love. You are the resurrection and the life. May we live as those who have been raised from death and may we celebrate those who have be raised through death. Amen