In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now going to cover the ‘I AM’s’ of Jesus. Jesus came to reveal the Father and show the way to salvation. Over 20 times in the Gospels He uses the declaration ‘I am’ in explaining who He was. In so doing He was affirming His divinity and His relationship to mankind. The next of these is ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life’.
The brother of the Mary, who had anointed Jesus with oil and wiped His feet with her hair, was very now sick and dying. She and her sister sent a message to tell Jesus. Jesus loved Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus, they were His dear friends. Having worked with the elderly for many years usually the scenario that unfolds is: as soon as family and close friends hear that their beloved relative or friend is about to die they go at breakneck speed to be by their side. To offer words of comfort and hear any potential last requests.
Your brother shall rise again
Yet Jesus remained where He was for two more days. Finally Jesus said, ‘let us go back to Judea… Lazarus is dead… ‘And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me)… let us go to him’. By the time Jesus actually arrived, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. It was an ancient belief that a soul remained with a body for three days following death. So by arriving four days later Jesus was able to demonstrate His miraculous power.
Martha was the busy one. Always doing. Mary the one most likely to sit at Jesus feet hanging onto every Word He spoke. When the sisters heard that Jesus had arrived, Martha rushed out to meet Him, yet Mary remained in the house. She said, ‘Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother shall rise again.’ Martha replied, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’
Whosoever believes in Me
Then Jesus makes this startling statement, ‘I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live’, John 11:25. He continues, ‘And whoever continues to live and believes in (has faith in, cleaves to, and relies on) Me shall never [actually] die at all. Do you believe this? It’s a question we all must answer. Do we actually believe? And in that believing do we actually cleave to Him, rely on Him, adhere to Him and trust in Him? Or do we trust in our own resources and our own understanding?
Mary, on hearing of His arrival, then rushes to Jesus, dropping to His feet sobbing, ‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died’. And here comes the shortest sentence in the Bible, ‘Jesus wept’. Jesus is acquainted with all our sorrows. He knows the pain of grief, the most heart-wrenching of human sorrows.
He approaches the cave where the body is laid. He tells them to roll away the stone that covers it. In answer to the ‘But Lord!’ He says to them, ‘Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?’
He is the resurrection and the life
And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank You that You have heard Me… for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me… He shouted with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ And out walked the man who had been dead… Jesus said to them, ‘Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go.’
There were certain Hebrew requirements to be met in order to be certified as the Messiah. They included: cause the cripple to walk, heal the sick, cast out deaf and dumb spirits and ‘raise the dead’. Here Jesus was affirming to all that He is the Messiah. He is the resurrection and the life and in so being He raised the dead man Lazarus back to life.
Henry says – Jesus found his friends, Martha and Mary almost swallowed up with sorrow for the death of their brother. Where death is there are mourners, especially when those that were delightful and friendly to their relations, and serviceable to their generation, are taken away. As was the custom in a house of mourning, there were many there to comfort the mourners. That they might be unexceptionable witnesses of the miracle, and see what miserable comforters they were, in comparison with Christ.
Whatever You ask of God will be given You
Martha’s natural temper was active and busy, she loved to be here and there, and at the end of everything. Mary’s natural temper was contemplative and reserved. This had been formerly an advantage to her, when it placed her Christ’s feet, to hear His word, and enabled her there to attend upon Him without those distractions with which Martha was cumbered. But now in the day of affliction that same temper proved a snare to her, made her less able to grapple with her grief, and disposed her to melancholy.
First Martha complains of Christ’s long absence and delay. She said it, not only with grief for the death of her brother, but with some resentment of the seeming unkindness of the Master, ‘Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died’. She believed Christ’s power, that, though her brother’s sickness was very grievous, yet He could have cured it, and so have prevented his death. Her faith was true, but weak, for she limits the power of Christ. She ought to have known that Christ could cure at any distance. Yet she corrects and comforts herself with, ‘I know that even now, desperate as the case is, whatever You will ask of God, God will give it to You’.
Though she did not have the courage to ask of Jesus that He should raise him to life again she leaves it to His judgement. When we know not what to pray for, it is our comfort that the great Intercessor knows what to ask for us. She had forgotten that the Son had life in Himself, that He did miracles by His own power.
Christ has dominion on earth
Both these considerations must be taken in for the encouragement of our faith and hope, and neither excluded – the dominion Christ has on earth and His interest and intercession in heaven. He has in the one hand the golden sceptre, and in the other the golden censer. His power is always predominant, His intercession always prevalent.
Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother shall rise again’. Christ directs Martha, and us in her, to look forward, and to think what shall be, for that is a certainty, and yields sure comfort. It is applicable to all the saints, and their resurrection at the last day. It is a matter of comfort to us, when we have buried our godly friends and relations, to think that they shall rise again.
The doctrine of the resurrection was to have its full proof in Christ’s resurrection, yet, as it was already revealed, she firmly believed it. That there shall be a last day, with which all the days of time shall be numbered and finished. There shall be a general resurrection at that day, when the earth and sea shall give up their dead.
Christ, the fountain of life
Martha seems to say, “I know he shall rise again at the last day, but what good is that now?” As if the comforts of the resurrection to eternal life were not sufficient to balance her grief. See our weakness and folly, that present things make a deeper impression upon us than those things which are the objects of faith. Thus, by our discontent under present crosses, we greatly undervalue our future hopes, and put a slight upon them, as if not worth regarding.
He said to her, I am the resurrection and the life, John 11:25, 26. In this He speaks of His sovereign power – I am the fountain of life, and the head and author of the resurrection. Martha believed that at His prayer God would give anything, but He would have her know that by His word He could work anything. Martha believed a resurrection at the last day. Christ tells her that He had that power in His own hand, that the dead were to hear His voice (John 5:25 Believe Me when I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the time is coming and is here now when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear it shall live).
Resurrection is a return to life. Christ is the author of that return, and of that life which returns. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, and Christ is both. Both the author and principle of both, and the ground of our hope of both.
No longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me
The promises of the new covenant gives us further ground of hope that we shall live. These promises are made—to those who believe in Jesus Christ, to those that consent to, and confide in Him. Jesus Christ as the only Mediator of reconciliation and communion between God and man. Those who receive the record God has given in His word concerning His Son. Those who sincerely comply with it and respond to all the great purposes of it.
Whoever lives and believes, that is, lives by faith (Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me). He that believes and is born again to a heavenly and divine life and who makes Christ the life of his soul.
The promises is – Though he die, yet shall he live and never die, John 11:26. Man consists of body and soul, and provision is made for the happiness of both. For the body here is the promise of a blessed resurrection. Though the body be dead because of sin (there is no remedy but it will die), yet it shall live again. The body shall be raised a glorious body.
Believe the things of eternity
For the soul there is the promise of a blessed immortality. He that lives and believes who, being united to Christ by faith, lives spiritually by virtue of that union, shall never die. That spiritual life shall never be extinguished but perfected in eternal life. As the soul is in its nature spiritual, it is therefore immortal. If by faith it lives a spiritual life compatible with its nature, its contentment shall be immortal too.
Martha was doting upon her brother being raised in this world. But before Christ gave her hopes of this, He directed her thoughts to the other life, the other world. The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such an impression upon us if we believed the things of eternity as we should.
If Martha admits that Jesus is the Christ, there is no difficulty in believing that He is the resurrection and the life. For if He be the Christ then He is the fountain of light and truth, and we may take all His sayings as faithful and divine. If He be the Christ then we may therefore depend upon his ability as well as upon his truth. How shall bodies, turned to dust, live again? How shall souls, clogged and clouded as ours are, live for ever? We can only believe this by believing Him that undertakes it as the Son of God, who has life in Himself, and has it for us.
Run so as to obtain it
There are more worlds than one – a present visible world, and a future invisible world. It is the concern of every one of us to give preference in our thoughts and cares to more than what is seen.
Who shall be the inhabitants of that world? They that shall be accounted worthy to obtain it, that is, that are interested in Christ’s merit, who purchased it for us. Those that have a holy manner wrought in them by the Spirit, whose business it is to prepare us for it. They have not a legal worthiness, upon account of anything in them or done by them. But a worthiness on account of the inestimable price which Christ paid for the redemption of the purchased possession.
The disagreeableness that there is in the corrupt nature is taken away, and the temperaments of the soul are by the grace of God conformed to that state. They are by grace made and counted worthy to obtain that world. We must so run as that we may obtain. They shall obtain the resurrection from the dead, that is, the blessed resurrection. (John 5:29 And they shall come out—those who have practiced doing good [will come out] to the resurrection of [new] life, and those who have done evil will be raised for judgment [raised to meet their sentence]),
What shall be the happy state of the inhabitants of that world we cannot express or conceive – 1 Cor. 2:9 as the Scripture says, What eye has not seen and ear has not heard and has not entered into the heart of man, [all that] God has prepared (made and keeps ready) for those who love Him, who hold Him in affectionate reverence, promptly obeying Him and gratefully recognising the benefits He has bestowed].
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Resurrection Preparation I am the Maker of the Universe. In joyful sincerity accept My ordered Word. You link yourself then with all the creative forces Of the universe; previously unheard. My Spirit can then be operative First in you and then through you, To bring to this world of tribulation All that is beautiful and true. My followers forget all that preceded the Resurrection The scourging at the pillar, the Divine control. Not a word I said against all the accusations That cut deep into My soul. Oh may our sleepy hearts Truly today awaken. To the true meaning of the cross Man-rejected; Man forsaken. These steps in Spirit-conquest There had to be Before the glorious resurrection That changed the face of history. These steps in Spirit-conquest Were beautifully arranged beforehand By My dear Father in heaven To open the door to the promised land. Now My Divine Spirit is released, Ever available for those who would hear My call And would will to walk My Way The cross before them in all. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, I praise You and thank You that in Your Son you give us resurrection and life. May I live heavenly minded now in hope of that life from death. May I live for You. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
I am the Resurrection and the Life!