Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 11:25a Jesus said to her (Martha), “I am the resurrection and the life.”
As His friend, Lazarus, lay a corpse in a nearby tomb, Jesus made one of His boldest claims ever. It is significant that He mentioned resurrection before life.
Calvin noted the human race is plunged in spiritual death; no one can have life unless first risen from death. Jesus claimed He is the resurrection; He brings life out of death. He also claimed He is the life; He sustains life once it is given.
John 11:25b “The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.”
Humans are physical as well as spiritual. God provided for both. Our bodies will die due to sin, but shall live again through resurrection. Physical death is not the end. After it happens, life goes on. All who do not believe in Jesus shall be forever separated from Him. All who believe in Him will live forever with Him.
Here in verse 25, we heard the claim Jesus made. To see evidence that validated and proved His claim, we turn our attention to verse 33.
John 11:33-37 When Jesus saw her (Mary) crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved. “Where have you put him?” He asked. “Lord,” they told Him, “come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Couldn’t He who opened the blind man’s eyes also have kept this man from dying?”
This scene vividly brought home to Jesus the iron grip in which humans are held by death. Jesus was now seeing in microcosm the pain it causes for all people.
Jesus, broken over Mary and Martha’s grieving, was not only visibly upset at the devastating consequences of sin. He was also inwardly angry at its cause, indignant that His adversary, the Devil, had brought sin and death into the world.
His lightning bolt of anger was followed by a rain of sadness. This miracle was unique in that it was preceded by a storm of feeling that shook our Master.
The onlookers were touched by Jesus’ display of emotion, but misinterpreted His tears as grief caused by His own personal failure to help Lazarus. The crowd felt Jesus’ tears showed much love, but a love powerless to help. Unknown to them was the fact that Jesus was coming to the grave not as a spectator, but as a wrestler prepared for battle. Before Him stood a tyrannical foe who had to be defeated.
John 11:38-39 Then Jesus, angry in Himself again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. “Remove the stone,” Jesus said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told Him, “Lord, he already stinks. It’s been four days.”
Thinking Jesus only wanted to view the remains of His dead friend, Martha was horrified at the thought of anyone seeing the repulsive sight of her brother’s putrefying corpse. Family tenderness naturally shrank from disclosing the ravages of death on her beloved. Exposing the remains would show disrespect for Lazarus.
John 11:40-42 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You heard Me. I know that You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so they may believe You sent Me.”
Jesus, wanting His Father to receive praise, thanked God before the miracle occurred. He knew that after Lazarus was raised from the dead, the commotion and confusion would spark a chaos making it difficult to give God appropriate honor.
In contrast to His former anger and weeping, Jesus became calm. Though He now stood face to face with the moment of crisis, the storm inside Him was gone.
John 11:43-44 After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.”
Mourners and skeptics lined the path Jesus walked to the grave. In the tomb was a body that had already begun to decompose. Without our Master, the lane to this grave (and to any other) has to be named Hopeless Despair.
Every vestige of human power stood (and stands) helpless here. Musicians, try your songs. Educators, teach. Preachers, preach. Physicians, bring your strongest medicine. Generals, rally the troops. Kings, issue edicts.
They were all useless here. Death sat smugly on a corpse, laughing at them all, “I have Lazarus, no one can touch him.” But somewhere in Jesus’ stroll to the grave, death’s grim grin became a frightened frown. The red-hot flush of Hell on His face turned ashen pale. His countenance was altered. Arrogance became panic.
His whole body trembled in terror, for Jesus had arrived at the tomb and was commanding the stone be removed. Satan knew the power of this foe. Jesus had already cheated death twice by retrieving at Nain a widow’s only son (Luke 7:15), and later the daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue (Luke 8:55).
While Jesus thanked the Father, death clutched its prey and screamed to demons of Hell to help keep Lazarus’ spirit from re-entering his body. This corpse had to be kept in the realm of death. But it was all in vain.
Our Hero approached the tomb as a Champion. This was open warfare. As Jesus assaulted the bastions of death, He yelled like a soldier launching an attack.
This is the only place where Jesus is said to have shouted. The volume in His voice bespoke the greatness of His work. He was displaying kingly authority.
The shout contained three words, translated here as “Lazarus, come out!” The two words of command are adverbs of place used here as imperatives. Jesus did not offer a request. He issued an order that could be rendered “Here! Outside!”
The result was a fourfold miracle. One, Lazarus’ spirit was retrieved from another world. Lazarus was already far away from this rock cave, but even Heaven itself was subject to Jesus’ command. Jesus’ voice penetrated the unseen world and reached Lazarus from a long distance.
Even in Heaven, Lazarus realized his name was being called. He heard, recognized, and obeyed the voice. When Jesus cried “Here!” Lazarus came.
A relationship unbreakable even by death and distance existed between Lazarus and Jesus. The same is true for all believers. Not even the grave can sever the bond between Jesus and us. We will be forever His; He will be forever ours.
Two, life was restored to the decomposing body. The forces of Hell were thwarted. The roaring lion, Satan, had clutched the lifeless corpse in his fangs and had surrounded it with his accomplices. But when Jesus spoke, the devil had to retreat. He growled, but was forced to drop his prey, and slither away in disgrace.
Three, corruption was reversed. Natural laws of decomposition and decay were overturned. Raising Lazarus publically displayed Jesus’ power over death.
No one ever died in the presence of the Prince of Life. No dead body stayed dead when He approached it. Death and Jesus cannot be in the same room long.
Four, the body was lifted outside the tomb. “Outside!” He commanded, and outside Lazarus came. The physics of thermodynamics and the law of gravity bowed to Jesus’ will. “Bound hand and foot” was expressly stated to reveal the grave clothes prevented all natural motion. The command “Loose him, and let him go” implied Lazarus could not loose himself or walk away by himself.
The voice heard at Lazarus’ tomb will be even louder on the last day. His call will be heard in every tomb on this planet. Until then His voice is heard in softer tones in our hearts through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
This physical miracle demonstrated what Jesus wants to do for us spiritually. He wants to call us forth, to give us life of Heaven. Through Jesus it can be ours.