There are many passages in the Bible that encourage and strengthen us during times of sorrow, but few give us such hope and assurance as John 11:25, 26. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ “
This is the great question of the Gospel of John and of the entire Bible, “do you believe” that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? The setting for the text is the town of Bethany where Jesus’ good friend Lazarus had died four days previous. Lazarus was survived by his two sisters Martha and Mary, and both these women were also good friends of Jesus.
Jesus addressed the words of John 11:25, 26 to Martha, but there was a cloud hanging over their meeting. Four days earlier the sisters had sent news to Jesus that His friend was dying and they had expected Him to come immediately to their home and heal their brother. They knew Jesus had the power to restore sight, reverse leprosy and heal the paralyzed and they were sure Jesus could and would heal Lazarus.
But He had delayed and now it was too late. Lazarus was dead and buried for four full days. But, for Jesus, death held no power and was not to be feared and this was the message He longed to convey to His friend Martha. Lazarus may be dead, but Jesus is the resurrection.
Let’s look at the text again, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’” This is the last of seven times that Jesus claims to be “I am” in the Gospel of John. He says, “I am the bread of life (6:35); the light of the world (8:12); the door (10:7); the good shepherd (10:11); the way, and the truth, and the life (14:6); and the true vine” (15:1). But it is in the statement He is the resurrection that we are confronted with the ultimate challenge, “Do you believe this?”
It is one thing to believe Jesus existed and did wonderful things in the world, but it is in Jesus’ ability to raise the dead that the true supernatural aspect of His ministry collides with our greatest fears. If any of us reading this blog wishes to live forever then we must face the reality that it is only possible through Jesus Christ who has power over death and the ability to raise the dead.
Now here is the most amazing and exciting aspect of the verses, the entire promise is based upon our believing and nothing more from our side of the equation. Every year billions of dollars are spent by people trying to look younger and trying to stretch their lives out another month or two.
What wealth a person would acquire if they had the power over death? What would people pay to sip of the waters of eternal life? Yet in the mercy, grace and love of God this amazing gift is offered free of charge. On God’s side of the equation it cost everything to be able to offer this gift but on our side we need only believe.
“He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” You and I are going to die (unless the Lord returns in our lifetime which is a distinct possibility) but the promise is we shall live again.
The grave has no power over a Christian because Jesus promises us that He shall resurrect those who die trusting and believing in Him. What a promise! We shall never die. Jesus is making it clear that death is not the final act of our existence but only a temporary separation because we live again.
Martha’s response to Jesus question, “Do you believe this?” is a wonderful statement of faith that sums up all that John has been trying to teach us through his Gospel. “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, He who is coming into the world.” John 11:27 She is stating yes Lord I believe you can resurrect Lazarus because you are the Messiah (the Christ) and you are God (the Son of God) and you have come into this world to bring us restoration and new life.
Martha’s response was based on her faith that Jesus was all that He claimed to be and could do all that He claimed to be able to do. In the Garden of Eden Eve doubted God and His love for her when she ate of the fruit of the prohibited tree and sin and death entered the world. But now thousands of years later Martha pronounced her faith and belief in Christ who was the conqueror over sin and death.
Read John 11:28-44 to see how Martha’s faith and Jesus promise meet at the tomb of Lazarus. But that question Jesus asked to Martha that day on the outskirts of Bethany is the same question He continues to ask each of us. “Do you believe this?”
Do you believe by faith you are forgiven your sins and given the gift of eternal life? Do you believe that even if you should die on this earth you will be resurrected and spend eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven?
Do you believe this?
* Please remember our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted for their faith. Some of their stories can be found at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/