The Resurrection and the Life
When Lazarus’s sisters sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was ill, they said, “Lord, he who you love is ill.”
The idea that God is love originates with the Bible. The gods of the Greeks and Romans were not loving. The gods of the Asians and Africans were not loving. The gods of the Native Americans were not loving. Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”[i] (John 14:9) Jesus was loving. Jesus taught that God is love, and said:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
This loving God delayed two days after He received word that Lazarus was sick. John tells us:
5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. (John 11:5-6)
According to this, it was because He loved them that He delayed.
Jesus was working to give them a new perspective on death. Psalm 116:15 tells us, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Jesus taught:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. -- Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29, 31)
Jesus defined Lazarus’s death as “sleep.” “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” (John 11:11) Here we see, Jesus intended to wake Lazarus. By the time Jesus arrived at the tomb, Lazarus had been dead four days. His body would have been in a state of decomposition that meant resuscitation was impossible. This resurrection was a recreation of the body, everything had to be rebuilt and Jesus did just that in an instant.
In this incident, Jesus taught:
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. (John 11:25-26)
Lazarus was raised from the dead to show us that Jesus is Lord even over death. For those of us who sleep, there is coming a day of resurrection. First Corinthians 15:51-54 says:
51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
For the believer, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
For the person who rejects Jesus and His gift of eternal life, there remains only “a fearful expectation of judgment.” (Hebrews 10:27) For this person, there is reason to fear death, because, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
As long as Jesus does not return, as long as we still wait for that last trumpet, we will all die physically. To help us understand that we do not cease to exist, Jesus used the metaphor of sleep. The bad news is that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) This is why it was necessary for God to give His only Son so that the world would not perish. This is why Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
It really is not what you know. It is who you know. Do you know Jesus? He is alive. He physically rose from the grave after having been crucified. He is the resurrection and the life.
As He told Martha:
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.
[i] Scripture quotations are taken from The ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.