The Resurrection and the Life

John 1125–26 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 11:17–27 (ESV)

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 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 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from 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. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Jewish custom was to bury the dead on the same day the person died. We were told in yesterday’s reading that Jesus waited two days before he set out to go to Lazarus. The reason for the delay and the mention of Lazarus having been in the tomb for four days seems to be in order to make the upcoming miracle unquestionable. There would be no way to say that Lazarus was only sleeping or not really dead.

As Jesus arrived in the area, Martha rushed to meet him. Her words tell us that she believed Jesus could have saved Lazarus had he been there sooner. Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise, but Martha assumed he meant in the last days when all believers would rise. Jesus had something more immediate in mind and replied to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

“Do you believe this?” These are the concluding words of Jesus to Martha and they are the words that we must answer as well. Jesus promises resurrection and eternal life to all who believe in him. Do you believe? Jesus went on to raise a man from his tomb who had been dead for four days to prove that he had the power to fulfill his promises. Yet, his greatest miracle was still to come. Soon Jesus would be in the tomb after being put to death on a cross and, on the third day, he would rise from the dead. The One who promises resurrection to all who believe is the resurrected One who has power over death and the authority to give life. Do you believe?

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