Resurrection and the Life

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live…” (John 11:25).

- John 11:17–27

In calling Himself the Good Shepherd, Jesus excludes all those who refuse to follow Him. The sheep who do follow Him are unable to snatch themselves from the Father’s hand and are also safe from all others (John 10:27–28). His sheep are safe because the Father who has given the sheep to the Shepherd is “greater than all,” and because He and Jesus both purpose to keep their people safe (vv. 29–30). The Jews then seek to kill the Messiah for His supposed blasphemy. And, once again, Jesus providentially escapes their clutches (v. 39).

These events set the context for the next “I AM” saying we find, “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25). Jesus tarries beyond the Jordan and His good friend Lazarus dies (11:1­–16). Jesus returns to Bethany and finds that Lazarus has been dead for four days (v. 17). This is significant because popular Jewish thought at the time said that the soul would periodically revisit the body for a few days after death. Jesus postpones His return until there would be no hope for, or explanation of, a resurrection by any means other than a miracle.

When Jesus arrives at the scene, He speaks with Martha and confidently tells her that Lazarus will live again (v. 23). Martha agrees in that there will be a future resurrection of everyone (v. 24). Though the Bible does teach a future physical resurrection, Jesus is not discussing that future event in particular but rather asserts “I am the resurrection and the life” (v. 25). Once again, He brings the focus of His audience to Himself and not to other things. He identifies Himself with the very event of resurrection and the fact of life. He is the source and power of resurrection. He is the one who grants and guarantees the life of His followers. Jesus demonstrates the veracity of this unbelievable claim by calling Lazarus forth from the grave.

In many ways, this is one of the harder sayings of Jesus found in the Bible. If Christ is life, why then do His followers meet physical death? The tension is resolved in that the life Jesus gives comes when our hearts are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. This new spiritual life is not destroyed by physical death but continues beyond the grave and will be applied physically at the last day. Christ’s own physical resurrection is the guarantee of the physical resurrection we still await, and it assures us that physical death will be destroyed finally at His return.

Coram Deo

The resurrection of Christ is the most important event recorded in history. It validates the claims of Christ about Himself, verifies His atonement on the cross and provides our hope for eternal life. Familiarize yourself with the accounts of the resurrection and praise God for raising Christ as the first-fruits of the resurrection to come.

Passages for Further Study

Psalm 84:1–3
Daniel 12:1-4
Matthew 9:18–26
Revelation 1:8, 17–18

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.