The Resurrection and the Life

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said 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?’ ” (vv. 23–26).

- John 11:1-44

As the Good Shepherd and the Door of the Sheep, Jesus meets our every need for safety and security. He is the entryway to the kingdom of God that, like the earthly sheepfold, provides protection for all those who enter it (John 10:7–9). He guards us, His sheep, laying down His life so that we can be restored to the Lord’s flock and be free of any charge that the prince of this world might use against us because of our sin (vv. 10–18). But the Good Shepherd preserves us not only from external enemies but from any eternal danger we might pose to ourselves. No one can snatch us from the Father and the Son—even we cannot snatch ourselves away (John 10:27–30). If salvation is truly ours, it is ours forever.

This reality is tied directly to Jesus’ statement about Himself in today’s passage. Our Lord claimed to be “the resurrection and the life” (11:25), meaning He is the source of life and guarantor of our resurrection from the dead. He proved this by raising His friend Lazarus from the grave (vv. 43–44). Lazarus, who with his sisters Mary and Martha was among the closest followers of Christ, died when Jesus was ministering in Bethany beyond the Jordan (10:40–11:16). Notably, Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived (v. 17). This gave Jesus the chance to perform a sign that demonstrated the truth of His claim by raising Lazarus back to life. If our Lord had returned sooner, people could have explained the miracle away as evidence of the common Jewish belief that the soul of a dead person would periodically revisit his body for up to three days before finally passing on. A resurrection on the fourth day would demonstrate that Lazarus’ exit from the grave did not represent his soul’s returning to his body on its own.

Martha and Jesus’ dialogue is instructive, for Jesus used it to get the people to focus on Him and not the general resurrection of the dead. Jesus was not looking for Martha to repeat the Old Testament revelation of the resurrection of the dead on the last day (Job 19:25– 27) but to understand that He is the giver and restorer of life (John 11:23–27). No one could honestly dispute that fact once the Giver and Restorer of life brought Lazarus back from the dead (vv. 28–44), although the chief priests and Pharisees did not trust in Jesus as a result of this sign. Knowing who He was, they sought to kill Him nevertheless (vv. 45–57). Nothing could be more irrational. How can one expect to kill the Source and Guarantor of life?

Coram Deo

The response of the Pharisees and the chief priests to Jesus is a powerful reminder that intellectual knowledge is not enough for salvation. These leaders did not dispute the reality of Jesus’ signs. Instead, they knew the signs and what they meant, but they still refused to follow Jesus. Saving faith requires knowing the truth, but it also requires putting one’s trust in that truth and the One whom it reveals. As we seek to know the truth, let us pray that we would trust what we learn.

Passages for Further Study

Genesis 2:7
Daniel 12:1–4
Hebrews 11:17–19
Revelation 1:8, 17–18

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