Thursday, April 11, 2013

I am the resurrection and the life

I am the Resurrection and the Life

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever.  Do you believe this?” 
“Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe You are the  Messiah,  the Son of God, who comes into the world.”
–– John11:25-27

To understand the context of this "I AM" one should read  John 11:1-44   This is a passage that you are probably familiar with.  This the last messianic sign of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John. John is also the only gospel to record this miracle.  The Greek word for life is zoe.  This word, zoe or life, is used 36 times in John.  In the three synoptic gospels combined, the word life is used a total of 16 times.  We have seen the word life used in several of the previous  I AM statements, and we will see it another future one.  Resurrection leads to life, and Jesus is both the resurrection and the life.

Jesus and His disciples are at least a days walk from Bethany.  This Bethany, is a village where Lazarus, Mary and Martha lived.  Jesus receives word that His friend, Lazarus is sick and about to die.  When Jesus hears this he states, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it."  John 11:4  Jesus purposely delayed His departure to Bethany.  Jesus and His disciples remain two days longer.  Now notice, Jesus did not say Lazarus would not die.  Jesus promised that the illness of Lazarus would not end in death.  Jesus knew that Lazarus would die, but death will not have the final say in the matter.  The illness of Lazarus led through death to being raised from the dead a few days later.  The real purpose behind Lazarus's sickness and following death was so that the Son of God might be glorified through the resurrection of Lazarus.

Jesus then says to His disciples, "Let us go to Judea again."   John 11:7  The disciple let Jesus know that they thought returning to Judah was not a good idea. They remind Him that the Jews wanted to stone Him.  Jesus answers, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."  John 11:9-10   Jesus is the Light of the World.  To walk in the light is to walk with Jesus. It is to believe and obey His words.  To walk at night is to walk in darkness.  This is to walk without trust and obedience to Christ.  Jesus was also informing His Disciples that as long as He was on earth doing Gods will, He would safely complete God's purposes.

Jesus tells His disciples that Lazarus is dead. "This He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep." John 11: 11  The disciples misunderstood Him  They knew of the therapeutic value of sleep and they assume that was just asleep and Lazarus will get better.  Jesus telsl them, "Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him." John 11:15   Jesus is telling the disciples that the miracle He is about to perform will lead to deeper faith on the part of the disciples who witness it.

 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.  John 11:17  Jesus had purposely waited for four days after the death of Lazarus to arrive at his home.  It was part of the devine plan.  Nothing happened by chance.  In all likelihood, Lazarus was already dead when the messenger arrived to tell Jesus of the illness.  Jesus, of course, already knew of Lazarus's illness and death.  The four day wait was very significant to the Jews at this time.  Many of the Semitic people of that time had the view that following a person's death, the soul of that person would revisit their dead body periodically over several days.  After the third day, the soul would abandon visits to the corpse.  The people did not believe that it actually took four days before a person was actually dead.  They just thought that the decomposition of the body made it impossible for any kind of revival after four days.

Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.   John 11:18  One can look across they valley and see the old city of Jerusalem. It is located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. Today one would possibly call it the suburbs of Jerusalem. We are told that many of the Jews came to comfort Mary and Martha. The family of Lazarus must have been well known and well liked.  It was the tradition for friends to gather at the home of the deceased to show respect for the family.  Jesus also arrived to comfort the grieving family.  As was the custom of the day,  Jewish sympathizers were expected to make extended calls on the family. There were often professional mourners and flute players at the occasion.  For the Jews, comforting the bereaved involved more than paying respects to the deceased. It meant spending a period of mourning offering support and sympathy to the family.

When Martha heard that Jesus was close by, she went to meet Him.   Martha says to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." John 11:21-22  This could have been a small rebuke to Jesus, but most likely it was just a statement of faith.  Martha knew that Jesus could have healed her brother. She also knew that Jesus had a special relationship to God so that his prayers could bring some good from this sad event.  She was saddened over the death of Her brother and was disappointed that Jesus had not arrived sooner to heal him.  Jesus said to her, Your brother will rise again.  Martha said to him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.  John 11: 23-24  Martha believed that Lazarus would rise again at the last day.  Her affirmation of end- time resurrection was in keeping with the beliefs of the Pharisees.  I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.  Job19: 25–27  The Sadducees, however, denied that there was a resurrection.  (I remember Sunday School teacher when I was quite younger, telling me that it was easy to distinguish the differences in the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The Sadducees did not believe in life after death, that is why they were so sad you see).  Martha did not understand the the actual fulfillment of the Promise of Jesus. She was thinking only of the final resurrection.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever.  Do you believe this?” She said to him, Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.   John 11:25-27  Martha continues to express her faith in Jesus.  At this point, I doubt that Martha has any inkling of the miracle that Jesus is about to perform.  Yet, she still declares Jesus to be the the Christ, the Son of God.   She seems to have a better theological understand of who Jesus is than do the disciples.  

Jesus says: Not only do I have the power to raise someone from the dead – Not only do I have the power to raise myself from the dead – I AM the Resurrection and the Life.  The eternal life in Jesus begins with one's salvation. The moment the Holy Spirit indwells you you receive everlasting life. It is not only life after death. You become a new creation with an everlasting life.  A Christian will leave this life behind to continue their eternal life with Jesus in heaven, through all of eternity.

Look for more on this subject "I AM the Resurrection and the Life," on the next blog.

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