12 April 2020

John 11:25-26:- “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?”

The question the Lord Jesus asked was directed at Martha who met Him when He was on His way to the village where Martha, Mary and Lazarus were. Lazarus had died and he was already in the tomb for four days. Martha had earlier expressed that she knows that her brother will rise again in the resurrection on the last day in response to Jesus saying, ‘your brother will rise again’. Martha was referring to the general resurrection in the last day and she missed what Jesus was saying.

Jesus was in fact alluding to the fact that Lazarus shall rise again when He would command him subsequently to come out of the tomb. But more importantly, the Lord Jesus was declaring an important truth: He was saying that He is not just One who promised and procured the resurrection – He Himself is the resurrection and the life. Martha had an abstract idea of the resurrection and not a deep personal conviction of the resurrection – she was not aware that she was talking to One who Himself is the resurrection and the life. Jesus wanted her to focus on Him and to know with certainty that whosoever believes in Him already has life and he would not die in the fullest sense even though he may die physically. One who believes is united with Him and as He is the life, one who is in union with Him will never die. And He went on to declare that the one who believes in Him, though he dies, he shall live again, referring to the resurrection, for the Lord Jesus would rise again three days after the crucifixion, and as He is the firstfruits, those who believe in Him shall follow Him in being resurrected.

The gospel centres on the cross and the resurrection. Without the cross and the death of Jesus, there would be no atonement, no satisfaction of God’s wrath against sin, no penalty paid for sin, no justification for believers, no forgiveness and no reconciliation. But mark this: without His resurrection, there would be no endorsement and guarantee of these realities. The climax of the story of the Cross is the resurrection! With the resurrection, we have the assurance of Christ’s victory and it now becomes possible for believers to live the life-style of the cross through the power of His resurrection.

“The fact is Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20). Firstfruits was a celebration and a guarantee of the full harvest yet to come. So, Christ’s resurrection sets in motion the inevitable and sure process by which all of God’s people will be raised from the dead when He comes again.

J.C. Ryle puts it clearly:
“There is a resurrection after death. Let this be never forgotten….Let us cling to it firmly, and never let it go. Let us strive to be men who believe in a resurrection and a life to come, and desire to be always ready for another world. So living, we shall look forward to death with calmness: we shall feel that there remains some better portion for us beyond the grave. So living, we shall take patiently all that we have to bear in this world: trials, losses, disappointments and ingratitude will affect us little. We shall not look for our reward here: we shall feel that all will be rectified one day, and that the Judge of all the earth will do right”.

The question the Lord Jesus directed at Martha is also directed at us: “Do you believe this?” Do we just have an abstract and vague idea of the resurrection, hoping that it would be true when we are on our death bed? The Lord Jesus is asking us to look at Him and to focus on Him; if we are truly born again, we are united with Him. What happened to Him also happened to us in our union with Him.

The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again, death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives with God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:8-11). The Apostle Paul wanted us to know that this is the new reality for believers: we are a new creation – the old has passed and the new has come; we are in union with the Lord Jesus when the Holy Spirit regenerated us and made us alive in Christ. Our life is in Christ; because He lives, we also live, and because He is resurrected, we also shall be resurrected.

If our Master has risen from the grave, we need not doubt that His disciples shall rise again. But beware – when men rise again, they will not all rise in the same condition. Some will rise to inherit eternal life, but some will rise only to be condemned. Let us make sure that when we hear the voice of the Son of God, we are numbered among His true disciples. While we have life and health, let us know the privileges of true believers; then when His voice shakes heaven and earth, and is calling the dead from their graves, we shall be confident and not be ‘ashamed before Him at His coming (1 John 2:28).