Prepared by Dr. John E Marshall
John 11:17-19 (Holman) When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem (about two miles away). Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother.
Thomas= courageous words rallied the disciples to follow Jesus. Our author mentioned no details about the trip, but it was probably on this trip that at Jericho the blind man was healed, and Zaccheus converted.
The purpose of Jesus= journey was clear and easy to state. He had business to do with a corpse.
John 11:20-22 As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. But Mary remained seated in the house. Then Martha said to Jesus, ALord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn=t have died. Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.@
When a Christians dies, we grieve not for the dead, but for those left behind. Death bereaves the survivors.
After a sore bereavement, Sir Walter Scott said, AI was broken hearted for two years; and though handsomely pieced again, the crack will remain to my dying day.@ Tears give grief an outlet. Nothing will ever wholly dry them up but the dust of the grave.
Martha, overwhelmed by grief, was evidently fighting feelings of resentment. Her words, a classic paradox, bespoke a rebuke she could not keep back, but also a faith that could not be shaken. The inner feelings of a broken hearted believer could hardly be articulated more eloquently.
John 11:23-24 AYour brother will rise again,@ Jesus told her. Martha said, AI know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.@
Jesus did not try to annihilate Martha=s grief, but to infuse it with another spirit. Even Jesus wept (v. 35). We would not ask the bereaved to shed no tears. But our tears should be tears of hope, not despair.
Martha added to her difficulties by speculating on what Amight have been.@ This accomplishes no good. When the deed is done, we must submit ourselves to His providence. Christ directed Martha to look forward and dwell on certainties, for therein is our comfort.
Introduction: The Gospel of John is a collection of claims supported by tangible evidence. The first claim (chapter 1-3) was Judaism is finished; the old must be replaced with the new. This was tangibly demonstrated when Jesus changed water into something better, wine, cleansed the temple, and marveled at the ignorance of Nicodemus, one of Judaism=s prize products.
The second assertion, AGod is Spirit@ (chapter 4), was demonstrated when Jesus healed the nobleman=s son at a distance. This showed Jesus was not limited by time or space.
The third claim (chapter 5), was Jesus had the power and authority of the Father. The claim was proved when Jesus healed the lame man at the pool of Bethesda.
The fourth assertion (chapter 6), was Jesus was the great Prophet that should come into the world. He proved that to be true by feeding 5000 and walking on water.
The fifth claim (chapter 7-9), was Jesus= pronouncement, AI am the Light of the world.@ He verified this by healing the man born blind.
We are presently touching the very heart of the sixth cycle, of claim and evidence. We will present the claim and then study the evidence.
John 11:25a (Holman) Jesus said to her, AI am the resurrection and the life. . .@
No one ever died in the presence of the Prince of Life. No dead body remained dead when He approached it. Death and Jesus cannot be in the same room long.
It is noteworthy that resurrection is mentioned before life. ARestoration from death to life precedes the state of life. The whole human race is plunged in death. Therefore, no man will possess life unless he is first risen from the dead. Hence Christ teaches that He is the beginning of life. Afterwards He adds that the continuity of life is also the work of His grace@ (Calvin).
Resurrection means He brings life out of death. Life means He keeps life sustained once it is given.
John 11:25b -26a A. . .The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die B ever.@
Man is body and spirit. Provision has been made for both. The body will die due to sin, but shall live again through resurrection. Jesus= emphasis here was, physical death is not the most important thing.
Any who live and believe, their spirit will never die. Once we are united with Christ, our spiritual life will never be extinguished. All who believe on Jesus will live even though they die.
We call Earth the land of the living, but it would in fact be more correct to call it the land of the dying. Edward the Confessor=s last words were, AWeep not, I shall not die but live, and as I leave the land of the dying I trust to see the blessings of the Lord in the land of the living.@
Pagans may speak hopelessly of death, but Christians rejoice in life beyond the grave. Our bereavement is a weeping not for our departed loved ones, but for ourselves and for others left behind with broken hearts.
It is good that Christ, rather than we, keeps the keys of death. It would be too dreadful a temptation to be empowered to rob Heaven of the perfect merely to bring back pleasure to us, the imperfect. Except to heal our own broken hearts, none of us would want to bring the glorified back to care and pain.
Resurrection should make us more careful in our use of the word Ahealing.@ What is healing? The Christian who dies is totally healed. Any who live longer on Earth are patched up temporarily, but death heals forever.
We have all prayed for believers to be healed. When their last breath departed, they were healed. We say Adead@ right when angels are saying, Aalive and well.
John 11: 26b ADo you believe this?@
Jesus did not ask if she understood. Understanding would be impossible. Jesus asked if she believed. Much we grasp by faith defies the grasp of intellect. We are called on to believe more than we understand.
Jesus= challenging question reminds us His words are not philosophical statements to be debated. They are facts to be received as law.
We all need to apply this question to ourselves. Every word and every promise of God should be viewed through the question, ADo you believe this?@
Our troubles would weigh us down less if we believed God=s promises. Do we truly believe the promises that apply to our particular case?
Some never question a teaching of Christ=s, and never apply it. They don=t expect to see it fulfilled in their life. We wrongly distance God=s promises from ourselves. To read God=s truth, but neglect it by not applying it, is the same as not believing it.
Telescopes are helpful if looked through from the end that brings objects nearer. Too often we look through our spiritual telescopes at the wrong end. Bring God=s promises near. Believe them. Apply them. They work.