Jesus regularly said very important things. What he says in John 11:25-27 is of utmost importance,
“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?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she told him, ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.’
This is a hinge moment in the story we’ve been studying this week, starting with the post here. Jesus’ good friend Lazarus died four days prior, and now Jesus has traveled to his friends’ hometown, Bethany, where Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, are still in mourning. In the previous post, we learned that Martha went out to meet Jesus, and they had a provocative conversation. Now Jesus has pulled back the veil and allowed Martha to see his larger missional intentions, and this has implications for all people. You might be feeling empty, lonely, depressed, angry, despairing, or dead inside in some way. What Jesus says is for you. Look closely at what Jesus said,
First, he said he is the resurrection and the life. He embodies these concepts in himself. Resurrection and life are found in him. Resurrection and life are, of course, not equal terms. They are very much related, but notice also how they are different.
Resurrection is when someone experiences new life after they no longer have life. In its most literal form, we say that someone experiences resurrection after their dead body is miraculously given new life by God. That brings us to why I am blogging about this passage for Easter, which is Resurrection Sunday. For not only is resurrection, somehow, found in Jesus, but also, he himself was resurrected, completing the work, started through his birth, life and death, to have victory over sin, death and the devil, and begin the process of the restoration of all things. Simply put, Jesus’ resurrection changes everything.
So resurrection brings new life to that which is formerly dead. But secondly, Jesus also says that he is the life. This is a wider concept than that of simply bringing new life to the dead. Jesus is not just resurrection, he is also life. Some have called this the life that is truly life. In John 10:10, Jesus declares, “I have come that they might have life and life abundantly.” This abundant life he is referring to is a new way of life that is accessible by those who are already alive, but they are not yet fully alive.
Another way to understand this life that is truly life is the word “flourishing,” such that humans experience the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) growing in their lives because God the Spirit has made his home with them. Flourishing is when people are in right relationship with God, with others, with creation. In the Hebrew Bible, the word “shalom” speaks of this wholeness that includes but is far more than “peace.” Jesus will go on to talk about this much more in John chapters 14-16, which we will get to in a few months from now.
Jesus is, therefore, the hope and possibility of new life to the dead and abundant life to the living. Notice how he further elaborates on this in verses 25 and 26. In verse 25 he comments on resurrection. If a person believes in him, though that person eventually dies, they will live again. That’s resurrection.
Then he says that whoever lives and believes in him will never die. That’s a reference to the abundant flourishing life. We know this because Jesus is not intending that his true followers will never die in their earthly body. All people will die one day. Jesus’ point is that when we truly believe in him, we will experience his new flourishing life now, and we will also experience eternal life, the ultimate flourishing, after death. Jesus is not just concerned with what happens after we die. He cares about us and our life now. He cares about our hearts and how we are feeling now. He wants good for the world now. Not the world’s concept of good, but his good. Jesus wants all people to experience his abundant flourishing life now and eternal flourishing life after death.
Along with “life,” another key word in verses 25 and 26 is, once again, “believe.” It is the identical word we already talked about in the previous post. Jesus, days earlier, invited his disciples to believe in him, with full trust, by giving their lives to him, and now he asks the same of Martha.
I love Martha’s response because she answers Jesus’ question with more information that he is asking for. Jesus’ question is a simple Yes/No question. But Martha, after saying “Yes,” goes on to explain her reasoning for her belief. She says she believes that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world. Martha is referring to the Old Testament prophets who repeatedly informed the people of Israel that God was going to send a savior, a deliverer. Jesus, Martha says, is that person, the Messiah.
Though her brother still lies dead in his grave, Martha believes Jesus can do something about it because he is the promised Messiah, the bringer of life. Now Martha leaves Jesus’ side to find her sister, Mary. We’ll find out why in the next post.
Photo by Jeffery Erhunse on Unsplash