I Am the Resurrection & the Life
You would think with having an excellent farmer and gardener for a father, that I would have some skill at gardening. But alas, it is not true. Until a lady told me the saying, “Thirsty Thursdays,” to know when to water my plants, they often looked parched and uncared for. Though I enjoyed my plants, I just plainly forgot about them most times. Thanks to her, I have now managed to keep a few succulents alive for the past four years.
Speaking of plants, have you ever forgotten to water your plants until they looked haggard? Then, you gave them a good drink and they came back to life again?
Have you seen a sick relative near, “death’s door,” only to bounce back and become well again?
These things seem impossible, and yet, they happen probably more frequently than we realize.
But, have you ever known someone who was pronounced fully dead and then been resurrected a few days later? It does happen, though rare, and a complete miracle.
Weeping was heard throughout Bethany. A beloved townsman had passed away. They had informed the townsman’s friend about his illness, thinking the friend might be able to save him from death, but this beloved man’s friend didn’t arrive in time. In fact, he even missed the funeral. He was four days too late.
“When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem (less than two miles away). Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother.
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, ‘Lord, 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.’
‘Your brother will rise again,’ Jesus told her.
Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’
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. Do you believe this?’” John 11:17-26
If you had seen the miracles Jesus had done of healing the lame, and making the deaf to hear and the blind to see, would you believe that He could also raise someone from the dead?
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” This was before He had died and risen from the grave. So, how could He say that to her?
Jesus is I Am. Remember that means ever-present. He is the creator of life. It is in His authority that He gives it and takes it away, with the full right to give it back again if it fits His plans and brings Him the greatest glory. So, though He hadn’t died and risen from the grave yet – by His Father’s power and authority, He was given the right to raise Lazarus from the dead again.
Martha knew that Lazarus believed in Jesus and would be resurrected with all the saints when Jesus returned to earth a second time. She had listened well to His teachings and trusted in Him. But, would she believe that He could and would it for her brother that day? Would you believe He could do it, for you?
“As soon as Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and told him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died!’
When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, he was deeply moved (angry) in his spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you put him?’ he asked.
‘Lord,’ they told him, ‘come and see.’
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?’
Then Jesus, deeply moved 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, there is already a stench because he has been dead four days.’
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 that they may believe you sent me.’ 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, ‘Unwrap him and let him go.’” John 11:29-44
Two questions for you:
- Why do you think Jesus was “moved/angry in His spirit and troubled?”
- Why do you think He chose to raise Lazarus from the dead?
Twice the passage says that Jesus was moved/angry. Once when He witnessed everyone weeping in grief from Lazarus’ death, and the other when the people questioned if Jesus could do it. Notice that it says He was moved within His spirit. He wasn’t angry at the people for mourning their loss. He was angry about death and what it does to us. He had love and compassion for the people, and anger towards sin and death. This love and righteous anger is what propelled Him to His own death in order to save us from eternal death.
This leads to why He raised Lazarus from the dead. He needed the people to understand that He indeed has the power and authority to raise people from the dead. The Lord gives us visual aids to help us learn from Him.
Resurrecting Lazarus wasn’t as much about who Jesus was raising from the dead, as much as it was about the very act of doing it. This crowd of people who witnessed this profound event, including Jesus’ disciples, would be reminded at Jesus’ resurrection that He is the KING over all and will keep His word in raising us up with Him at His coming. This event linked with His own would help all of those witnesses of both to stand firm in their faith and endure persecution in order to spread God’s love and His good news throughout the world.
Jesus is still resurrecting us back to life today. Though it may not be to the grand scale of a full death to life revival, He is doing this physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in many of us.
Are you suffering from mental illness? Physical illness? Emotional burnout or overwhelm, or spiritual apathy? God can restore each of these things. He alone has the power to save and to restore that which is broken.
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but didn’t raise His earthly father, Joseph, or His cousin, John the Baptist. Why would He raise Lazarus and not these other men? It was for God’s purpose and His timing. The other men had finished their time on earth. Their assignments were complete and God wanted them home. Lazarus was raised very close to Jesus’ own death and resurrection. I don’t know specifically why it was Lazarus, but he was a well-known man with great respect from others, as is evident later in the chapter when word spread throughout Jerusalem of Jesus resurrecting him. The timing, location, and person were all important, for it caused more prophesies of Jesus’ death and put the Pharisees act in motion to see Jesus arrested and killed just a short time later.
Jesus did everything according to the Father’s will. Eventually, in His righteous anger and overwhelming love and strength, Jesus conquered death for us. We will rise again and have eternal life with Him. To God be the glory!