What kind of life would we lead if we were guaranteed not to die? How would we live if we knew already that we were immortal?
Let’s realize that immortality is a reality in Christ.
Let’s examine John 11:1-45, the resurrection of Lazarus and the One who dares to call himself “the resurrection and the life.”
Dilemmas in the Passage:
John 11:17 Why God Delays
Sometimes we pray and God delays. Why? Perhaps the healing of Lazarus will provide a clue. When Jesus heard of his friend’s sickness, he indicated that the illness would be used for God’s glory. While others panicked and were concerned, Jesus was calm in his faith. Then he went on to say that God’s purpose was “so that you may believe.” Lazarus’ sisters both responded quite emotionally that if Jesus had been there sooner he would not have died. By this time, he had been dead four days. Again Jesus emphasized the necessity to believe. Even his prayer, which was a public prayer, was said so that hearers may believe.
John 11:35 A Real Man Weeps
Jesus wept. Why? Theologians speak of Jesus having been the most complete human being to have ever lived since Adam. Adam sinned. So have we. Jesus did not. He was like Adam in every regard except one — he never sinned. He had human nature in its pure, unblemished form. He was the only man who ever lived to have pure, untainted manliness, as God intended it to be. We see that Jesus was deeply moved. It is not manliness to show no feelings. Was it anger or heartfelt compassion upon people with so little faith? It’s hard to tell. One thing is sure: a real man was moved to tears.
John 11:39 Four Days Late
When Lazarus was reported dying why did Jesus delay (verses 5-6)? Why did disciples try to dissuade Jesus (verse 8)? Why did Thomas disparage Jesus’ plans (verse 16)? Why did Martha (verse 21) and Mary (verse 32) blame Jesus that if he had been there their brother would not have died? Why did Martha doubt that anyone could do anything after her brother had been dead four days (verse 39)? Is your marriage dead? Is your business dead? Are you too old to do God’s work? Are your hopes and dreams dead? That’s the perfect time for Jesus to come. God may delay answering prayer but he’s always right on time.
John 11:41-42 Public Prayers
Jesus taught us to pray in private (Matthew 6:6). Why did others pray publicly in God's house (Matthew 21:13), in small groups (Acts 1:14), by a river (Acts 16:13), on the seashore (Acts 21:5) and everywhere (1 Timothy 2:8)? The context of Jesus’ instructions regarding private prayer, with other examples, shows that he wanted to highlight what our motive ought to be in prayer. If we are uncertain that our motive may be to show off spiritually or promote ourselves as super-spiritual, then it would be better to pray in private. In John 11 Jesus prayed in public to help others, that they may believe.
Good News in the Passage:
John 11:25 I AM
A close friend of our Savior, Lazarus from Bethany, died. His sisters were Mary and Martha. The resurrection of Lazarus is a vision for the future and for today. When speaking to Martha, Jesus did not say that he would be the resurrection on that final day, although he certainly will be that too. He spoke in the present tense, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Could it be that when we believe in Jesus, we already enter from death to life? We live in fear of death. God helps. We no longer need to fear death, because when we believe in him who is life, we have life too.
John 11:25 The Resurrection and the Life
When Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life”, it was a claim to divinity. He has the power over resurrection and life. Notice that Jesus said “I am” and not “I will be.” He personalized resurrection in himself. Jesus demonstrated his authority over life and death by raising Lazarus. Then he said, “Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” The resurrection of Lazarus was a temporary example of what Jesus will do for all believers after death of the body. The body dies, but the spirit lives on, received into heavenly places.
John 11:44 Take off the Grave Clothes
From the day we are born we begin to die. Our bodies are winding down. We are already dressed in grave clothes. Life’s greatest enemy is death. Jesus has the power over life and death. As "God in the flesh", Jesus resurrected people temporarily from death, which was a foretaste of the resurrection to eternal life. In a skeptical world it is quite a challenge to hear that whoever lives by believing in Jesus will never die. That’s what he said as he boldly claimed, I am the resurrection and the life. So let’s take off the grave clothes of doubt and fear. Believe in Jesus Christ and live forever.
What did Jesus say to Martha? “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this...?”
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.