“I am the Resurrection and the Life”
The miracle of Lazarus being raised from the grave presents us with a vivid illustration and proof of Jesus’ assertion that he is the Resurrection and the Life. While the resurrection and the life represent two different realities, they are closely related. And both are found in the person of Jesus and both come to us through faith in him. Twice in 11.25/26 Jesus links them to believing in him. It is common to differentiate between a mere head-knowledge belief and the more significant and trusting ‘believe in‘. But perhaps we also need to note John’s common use of the preposition ‘in’ (literally ‘into’) to denote movement. Our faith moves us ever closer to Jesus and even right into union with him – ‘into’ Jesus.
Although Martha associated resurrection with “the last day” (11.24), Jesus’ resurrection meant his continued life on earth before his ascension back into the full presence of his Father. With Lazarus too his release from the grip of death and the grave meant renewed life on earth. But of course Lazarus must have died again – but his new resurrection life doubtless led on into eternal life. In Jesus and through our faith in him we also experience a new life.
So in John Chapter 3 Jesus teaches the necessity of being born again. This is not religious jargon for right-wing Bible-belt American believers. Together with Jesus in his resurrection we can enjoy the thrill of starting a totally new life, in which “the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5.17). As we come to follow Jesus, we become “a new creation”. Former failures and sin are washed clean. The loneliness of non-Christian life is replaced with the joy of Christian fellowship together with all the multitudes of sisters and brothers in his church worldwide. Friends of ours recently began to sense that “there must be more to life than what we have got”, went to a church for the first time and have now begun to find the reality of the new life of the resurrection in Jesus.
Of course the resurrection life here on earth leads on to God’s gift of eternal life. So we have already begun to move on from the resurrection to “life” – Jesus is both the resurrection and the life. In his Gospel John stresses the present tense of ‘life’. We already have eternal life now. For example, we may note the present tenses in John 3.15, 16 and 36. We have already begun on what we shall have perfectly in the future. We have already begun to be with Christ in the glorious presence of the Father. So in Colossians 1.1 Paul delightfully repeats the preposition “in” – his believing readers were simultaneously “in Christ” and “in Colossae”, in Christ in glory and yet at the same time still here on earth. Although we remain in this world, we have already begun to enjoy the reality of God’s amazing gift of eternal life. The resurrection leads inevitably into the ascension.
So we have the new life of the resurrection now, but it will lead on into eternal life. We also have the assurance of eternal life into eternity, but it has already begun here in this life. What glorious grace! We can only worship the Lord with deep gratitude.
I am so impressed with the depth of Martha’s faith even before Jesus assured her that he is the resurrection and the life (11.21-24). May the Holy Spirit give each of us a vital faith in Jesus like Martha had! Do read John 11.21-25 now and be excited by it!