I Am The Resurrection and The Life!
I Am The Resurrection and The Life! Saint John’s Bible – John 11
Written by Paul Anderson
The exclamation of the steward to the bridegroom at the opening wedding scene in John 2:10 signals the best being saved for last, and that’s certainly the way John’s story of Jesus develops. As the culmination of the seven signs of Jesus, the raising of Lazarus proves to be the greatest miracle in the entire ministry of Jesus. Jesus even waits two days before traveling to Bethany, and by the time he arrives, Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days (11:6, 17). This ensures that the raising of Lazarus would be seen not as a mere resuscitation; it was a full-bodied resurrection.
On the way to the tomb, though, both Martha and Mary exclaim: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (vv. 21, 32) In addition to believing that asking in the name of Jesus was effective, however (14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23), John’s memory of Jesus also preserves bewilderment and disappointment—even within the eyewitness generation. And yet, this promise also holds true for later generations: “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe” (20:29).
Indeed, Martha declares her belief that God will grant Jesus whatever he asks, whereupon he responds: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” And, in contrast to the other gospels, Martha, a woman, makes a pivotal confession: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (11:23-27).
In this amazing painting by Donald Jackson (“Raising of Lazarus,” Saint John’s Bible, Vol. 5), Jesus is portrayed as coming to the tomb, as viewed from the inside, the stone having been removed. Reminiscent of The Last Temptation of Christ, where Jesus reaches to bring Lazarus out of the tomb, Lazarus actually pulls Jesus into the tomb. Note the moths, dust, and the shroud of Lazarus in the dismal tomb, in contrast to the illuminated figure of the Lord, approaching the opening. Jesus then arrives at the tomb and declares: “Lazarus, come forth!” (v. 43)
Not only is the raising of Lazarus the culminative sign of Jesus in the Gospel of John, but it also prefigures the greatest event of all: the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week. Indeed, John’s story of Jesus saves the best for last on several levels. First, Lazarus is raised from the dead; then, the empty tomb of Jesus also gives witness to the resurrection; and finally, each of us is blessed with the hope of eternal life because Jesus himself is the Resurrection and the Life. And, that is good news, indeed!
Written by Paul Anderson