We would see Jesus: The Resurrection and the Life
Jesus said to her “I am the resurrection and the life; He who believes in me will live even if he dies.”
There is no preamble in Jesus’ words spoken to Martha as she grieves the loss of her brother, a man four days dead whose corpse has begun to rot and putrefy. The words of our savior spoken to this woman, the sister of the ‘the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair...’ were words of assurance and comfort. In fact, the first recorded words spoken to her were “your brother will rise again.” (John 11:23). Only afterward, after Martha says that she knows her brother will rise on that last day, does Jesus impart the words from our proof text: I am the resurrection. I am the life. In essence, ‘you’re waiting on a future hope. But I am here and in Me only is there true life.’
The question must be asked, ‘resurrection from what?’ From what are we being raised? The answer: death. Those elect of God are raised to life in Christ Jesus. There is no greater gift that is given to men, for apart from this, the gift of freedom, all men are slaves unto death and darkness. But according to this kindness of God, we are freed from sin and made slaves instead of righteousness and light. (Romans 6:18, 1 Peter 2:9) The significance of this renewal and redemption can hardly be overstated.
But there is an eternal meaning of this, our savior’s claim of life and resurrection.
We are certainly resurrected from our death in sin and raised to life, the freedom of righteousness. But the assurance given to Mary concerning her brother Lazurus is a promise of physical life after physical death— not only spiritual life after spiritual death. ‘He who believes in me will live even if he dies.’
The belief in Jesus is the first resurrection. Open eyes and a heart of flesh where once there was stone. But the result of this belief, appointed by God, is life everlasting. Acts 13:48b and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. John 3:15 so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.
When one believes, he experiences resurrection from the death that is sin. And because of that resurrection, when he dies he will be raised to eternal life. The duality here is important to a full understanding of the text and of the gospel. There are two deaths. One death in sin when we come into the world, one death at the end of our physical life. There are two resurrections, one resurrection from our death in sin the moment we come to belief in Christ and one resurrection, as a result of the first, at the moment of our worldly passing. And there are two lifes. One life lived on earth in freedom from sin, a life in which, though still plagued by the spectre of sin, slavery to it no longer defines us, and one life which comes at the last when, freed from our grave and mortal coil, we shall be raised to life in the presence of the Father, the praises of whom shall we sing for all eternity.
With all of this as a backdrop I think we can ask, ‘what does it mean when Jesus says the He Himself is this resurrection and this life?’ The truth of His claim lies in two places. Or perhaps more concisely put, two facets of one redemptive act.
Firstly, the act of payment for sin itself, the death of Christ which satisfied God’s wrath against sin, did make a way for the people of God to come to Him where before there could be no unity. And in this act, Jesus tied we His sheep to himself— in His resurrection also. So that as He died because of our sin we died to its power over us. And as He was raised to Life so we were raised to the same.
The second way in which we might observe this resurrection and life is by observing that the very power which raised Jesus from the dead is the power which raised us also. From death to life, from slavery to freedom. We have been transferred out of the of darkness and into the kingdom of His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). And all by the very providencial power which brought the Savior Himself up from the grave to the right hand of the Father where He sits even now, interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:34). This the power of God, according to His own foreknowledge and eternal will, the power of life over death. The power to make dead men live because Christ the Savior was raised first.
As Easter approaches and we remember the resurrection of Jesus, may we consider what it means for us as the sheep of this our good shepherd. In Him we die and in Him we live (Ephesians 2:5, 1 Corinthians 15:22). Because of His righteousness we are called righteous (Philippians 1:11, Philippians 3:9) and our sin is blotted out with His blood (1 John 1:7). According to the power of God which brought Him out of the tomb, we are reborn. (Romans 6:4). Like lazurus we are called forth from the grave and brought to newness of life and life everlasting. This Easter remember the power of the Savior who is our resurrection and our life. Praise be to God.