Jesus decides to go to Bethany, even though the disciples warned him not to go, because the Jews tried to kill Jesus near there. Jesus was resolved to go because he was going to wake up Lazarus, who had fallen asleep.
This phrase is used many times hereafter in the New Testament to refer to believers who die. The reason to use this phrase is because of what Jesus is going to reveal in this text. When Jesus neared Bethany, he found out that Lazarus had been in the tomb dead for four days. When he got near, Martha went out to meet him for context, read John — In response, Martha confessed her faith in Christ. Then Jesus sent for Mary, and when she arrived, she was weeping along with the other mourners. In verse 33 it says Jesus was moved in spirit and troubled.
The result is that he wept.
We have a Savior who can sympathize with us in our weaknesses. It is a very emotional scene. Jesus comes to the tomb, and at first Martha objected because it would stink. Nevertheless, the stone is removed; Jesus prays to God and then tells Lazarus to come out.
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The one who would in a short time go the cross and the grave and also would be resurrected, performs here the greatest of miracles in his ministry up until this point. He raises Lazarus from the dead. Essentially there are two I am statements in our text: I am the resurrection, and I am the life. Christ proclaims this and then explains what they mean read the rest of verse When the subject of the resurrection first was brought up by Jesus, Martha thought that Jesus was speaking of the resurrection at the last day.
Though this is true, he is speaking primarily about the spiritual resurrection today. What Lazarus is about to become is the ultimate visual aid of the great teacher. We might die in order to live. Humans are, by nature, dead. This is what Scripture clearly teaches. Remember Genesis 8.
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In speaking of the new life in Christ, Ephesians 2 says that while we were dead in trespasses and sins, Christ made us alive. By nature we are dead. The first resurrection, the resurrection of which Jesus speaks, takes place when we believe. Our Savior continues and explains what it means that he is the life. Oh, to be sure, his body might die, but it also will be raised again. His soul will live forevermore in fellowship with God.
This second phrase confirms the first. What is the best evidence you have been resurrected? You are alive. When we die now in this life, our body goes to the ground and our soul goes to heaven. It is conscious, fully sanctified, and in the presence of God. This time is called the intermediate state.
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This is what Martha first had in mind in verse He is saying that he himself is the resurrection and the life. To partake of what Christ is doing happens by faith.
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As we think about this, we might wonder why Jesus took so long to go to Bethany. After all, Mary and Martha, women he loved, and the other mourners had four days of utter grief and sorrow. Why did he delay so long? This is what Jesus was getting at in verse 4 and verse There would be no doubting that Lazarus was dead. Jesus was going to do something no one else could do. Why would he do it? This now is the third time Jesus spoke an I am statement in the presence of a miracle.
He was the bread of life after he fed the five thousand. He was the light of the world after he healed the man born blind. Now he is the resurrection and the life as he raises Lazarus from the dead. For us to read John 11 two thousand years after the cross, we can understand it more fully. Jesus speaks with authority given by the Father, for what he has accomplished and what he will accomplish.
He speaks as one who has died, he raises Lazarus as one who was raised, and speaks of one who has eternal life while yet living on earth. This is how sure the redemption secured in Jesus was. With that said, we still must ask how it is that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. For Jesus to be the resurrection, he must defeat death. This is precisely what he did. When Jesus breathed his last upon the cross, in the eyes of Satan, it must have been the great victory.
This is why we worship on Sunday. When Christ was raised, he was raised victoriously over Satan. Our catechism says that we are already now resurrected to a new life. This is because Christ defeated that ancient enemy: death! Romans 5 says that we are raised up with Christ. What this means is that since Christ was raised, through union with him, we are guaranteed to be raised. This is what Colossians —4 is getting at. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. I explained to my catechism students this week that we are dying.
The outward body is slowly dying away, but the inward man is being renewed. We are like a cut flower. A cut flower flourishes for a week or two and then it is thrown into the garbage. It is a life-changing teaching. Let me give you four reasons why. First, this matters because you will die. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.
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Those who believe in Him are freed from the power of death even before they die, and they receive his never-ending life even now, to life in this world as those who have everything to gain and nothing to lose. This is what Tokichi Ishii learned after two women came to his prison cell to talk about Jesus Christ.
He had an almost unparalleled criminal record, having murdered men, women, and children in the most brutal was, and was awaiting his just execution. As the Christian women spoke, Tokichi glowered at them like a savage animal. Eventually, they gave up trying to talk with him, but they left a Bible in his cell. He picked it up and began to read. And he kept reading. He could not put it down. I was stabbed to the heart, as if pierced by a five-inch nail.
Shall I call it the love of Christ? Shall I call it His compassion?
I do not know what to call it. I only know that I believed, and my hardness of heart was changed. Believing in Jesus, through the word of his gospel, Tokichi Ishii received the beginning of resurrection life. Later, the jailer came to lead him to the scaffold. Literally, Christ brought Tokichi Ishii to life.
In every kind of prison that since and device, whether pleasure of pain, pride or despair, and with the threat of death facing even man, woman, and child, Jesus offers the same to everyone who believes. Ryle, Expository thoughts on the Gospels: John, 3 vols. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, , Parker, 12 vols. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, , Warfield, The Saviour of the World ; rep.
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