“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25a.
“I am the resurrection and the life.”
These familiar but marvelous words of Jesus express the theme of this entire beautiful eleventh chapter of John, the record of the miraculous raising of Lazarus from the dead. You well know the setting.
The raising of Lazarus marks a climax in the ministry of the Lord Jesus. From many points of view it was his greatest miracle.
I do not say that this miracle as such was greater than any of the others. All took divine omnipotence to perform. From this point of view, why should this miracle be considered greater than the casting out of devils, the healing of the blind, the stilling of the tempest, or any of the other words of the Lord Jesus?
I do say, however, that this wonder constitutes a high water mark in a ministry wherein all spoke of divine power and majesty. Here we have the greatest, visible evidence of the very godhead of the of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here we have the first real glimpse, typically speaking, of the death and resurrection of Christ Himself. From the viewpoint of its significance and effect this is the miracle of all miracles. Here it is, therefore, that both faith and unbelief come to a head in Him, Who would be for a fall and rising of many in Israel. Many believed in Him, we read. His enemies, however, determined that He had to be killed as quickly as possible.
Of this entire remarkable narrative the phrase quoted above constitutes the hear. It all happens for the purpose of providing, corroborating, demonstrating, for friend and foe to see, what Jesus says in the passage, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Therefor Lazarus had to die.
Therefor Jesus tarried on the way until Lazarus had been dead four days already and decomposition had fully and noticeably set in.
Therefore Jesus spoke to His disciples, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
And therefor He raised Lazarus from the dead by the power of His mighty, “Lazarus, come forth.”
It was all that we might see and believe and therein rejoice: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”
Truly a passage every child of God should learn by heart. There is a difference, is there not? So many things are committed to memory that are never learned by hear.
Jesus says it with all possible emphasis, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Resurrection and life,-there is no other. I am, not I have or give. I,-again, there is no other.
We do understand, do we not? That this could never had been said by the mere human nature of Christ! Never can mere creature say: I am the life. That would be the height of arrogance and self-deception. A man may life, be alive, receive life. Never, however, is he the life. The same applies to the humanity of Christ. It, too, is mere creature, flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, possessing nothing of itself. It, too, could never say: I am the resurrection and the life.
That Jesus says this, nevertheless, is only because He is the eternal Son of God, the second person of the adorable trinity, God Himself in flesh appearing, eternity in time, infinity in the flesh. The fountain of life, the power of resurrection is in God alone.
“I am the Life!”
Life is an incomprehensible, indefinable mystery. Who among all the sons of men, all the giants of science and biology, can tell us what it is and whereof it consists? We see it, experience it, know when it is no longer there, enjoy it – but what it is nobody knows.
I’ve heard it said: Life is the adaptation of the inner man to outward conditions and environment, the ability to act and react with respect to things round about us. This is true of course. A corpse cannot do these things. When it is hot, a corpse does not perspire; when it is cold it does not shiver; when you place food before it. A corpse does not eat; when you speak it doesn’t respond. However, this is a description of life rather than a definition.
Even in the natural sense of the word, but certainly in the higher sense life is more than mere existence. Existence and life are not identical. Life is existence that reaches its purpose, existence in the sphere to which we are adapted, adaptation to an environment which in turn is perfectly adapted to our existence.
Scripture approximates a definition in John 17:3 where Jesus says: “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou has sent.” True life, therefore, is knowledge of God, – deep, spiritual, experiential knowledge of God. It is fellowship with God; the personal, abiding experience of Him; the yearning of the entire man for the eternal Fount of all god; positive action and reaction of heart and soul and mind and will, eye and ear and mouth and hand and foot, to the God of all life; to draw near unto God. The opposite of all this spells death. It is to live apart from God, not to know and love and dwell with God, not to taste the sweetness of His communion, to hate and oppose Him, and to be the object of His fierce wrath and divine contradiction forever. How glorious is the one; how unspeakably terrible the other!
“I am the life,” says Jesus.
Christ is the life as the eternal Son, irrespective of the creature. He knows the Father as only the eternal Son can know the Father. Eternally He lies in Father’s bosom. Of him the Father says: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” He is the expressed image of the Father’s person, the brightness of the Father’s glory, the only begotten one. All that is in the Father is in Him too. That is His personal place and divine glory as Son.
And Christ is the life as our Mediator and therefore for all His own. In Him all the fullness of the godhead, all the riches of divine perfections, dwell bodily. To know Him is to know the Father. To see Him is to see the Father. He is the most we shall ever know or see of the Father. To serve Him is to serve the Father. All that belongs to life is contained in Him alone. To possess Him is to possess the Father. He is the power, the principle and contents of all life.
“I am the Life!”
Therefore He can say, “I am the resurrection.”
Resurrection is not something new next to and independent of life. It is life in conflict with, in the midst of, in triumph over death. When life comes in contact with death you get resurrection.
Being the life, therefore, the Mediator must needs be the resurrection. He is this for Himself, when His own humanity descends into death and the grave. He is this for all His own, whom He desires to quicken according to the mandate of His heavenly Father.
Isn’t that wonderful? That Son has power over death in every form. When He appears upon the scene death must retreat and vanish. When His own human nature is laid in the tomb He rises again the third day, in His own time and manner, by the power of his own godhead. When He speaks the spiritual dead, thousands upon thousands of them, hear His voice unto faith and repentance. He speaks again and all that are in the graves hear His voice and come forth, they that have done the good to the resurrection of life, they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation.
And note the obvious connection between the two.
He is not the life because His is the resurrection. Resurrection, surely, does not precede life. Then, where would be the power of that resurrection? It certainly can never be said of the eternal Son of God, that there was a resurrection from death whereby He became life.
What Jesus means to say is this: I am the life, eternal life, because I am the Christ, the Son of the living God. Therefore I am the resurrection, and death can have no dominion, nor the grave victory, where I appear upon the scene.
Precious Savior! So great, so wonderful!
Hosanna to Him forever more!