“I Am the RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE”
Home Church Devotional 4/19/2020
These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb 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. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 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.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. 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 11:17-27 (ESV)
Our passage opens with Jesus finding out that Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days. Why does John include this bit of information in his gospel account? It was the common belief among ancient Israel that the spirit of a person lingered for three days, waiting for a chance to reenter the body. After three days the body would lose its color and the spirit was locked out. By waiting Jesus is removing any doubt tied to the ancient superstition; the body had been dead and buried four days. As He nears Bethany, Jesus stays outside of town, perhaps avoiding those who opposed Him or the crowds following Him ay have been large and overwhelming for the small suburb of Jerusalem. The energetic Martha is the first to reach Jesus and immediately expresses her heartfelt disappointment at the lose of her brother.
Martha begins to show us something of her faith, an immature faith at this point. Her statement is very telling, “Lord, if You had been here…” Martha has enough faith in Jesus to believe He could heal and keep her brother from dying. The faith Martha is showing here is a complaining faith, but she did not believe to the point where she was resting in faith. Martha does not believe with an unlimited and resting faith; she simply is not entrusting the matter entirely into the hands of Jesus. She tries to make amends for her complaining faith by confessing her faith in Jesus. “Lord, I know You can do anything…I know God will give You” She is still limiting the powers of Jesus even within her confession. She has, effectively, kept Jesus at a level below God.
Martha moves from her complaining faith to a limiting faith before coming to a fundamental faith. When Jesus says her brother will rise again, she confesses her belief that he will rise again in the last days. She cannot grasp that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life Himself! Jesus is making a startling declaration, her brother would rise from the dead, but Martha understood Jesus in light of her fundamental faith, a faith that said the resurrection was far away in the future. A fundamental faith is essential for all believers. We must first believe the truths of the faith, but a fundamental faith is not all there is to faith and our life in Christ. Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. We need a living faith. A faith that is alive and vibrant; a faith that is dynamic and moving; a faith that is conscious and acting; a faith that that is communicated and fellowshipping with other believers.
Jesus provides comfort, not only to Martha, but all believers of all time, when He states, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life.” Notice that Jesus does not say “I GIVEresurrection and life, but rather He says, “I AM the Resurrection and Life.” Jesus is declaring He is the very essence, the very being, the power and the energy of life! This means that everything – humans, plants, animals – all of life – exists only because of and by the will and power of Jesus. “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1: 3) Because He is the power and energy of life, Jesus is the source of all life. Lazarus is dead, now in the tomb four days; if a dead person wishes to live again, only the source of life can bring them to life once again.
Knowing that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life means three things for the believer; (1) Jesus is alive, living before us in the person of His Holy Spirit. He is in us and around us; our faith is living and alive because we are in constant contact with Jesus. (2) it means that when our believing loved ones die, they are alive with Jesus in heaven. This is Paul’s great teaching in 2 Corinthians 5:8; when the body dies our spirits depart and return immediately to the Lord. (3) it means that because Jesus is alive our resurrection and glorified bodies are assured. This is not just thee resurrection we celebrated last week on Resurrection Sunday; no, this resurrection is the Lord staking His claim to those who believe in His name as the Son of God, the Giver and Maker of all life. Without Him, we have no life in us and no life to look forward to beyond our days on this earth.