One of the most notable bible passages is referred to in the title of this chapter. It is one Christians often like to find in the Scriptures and read. The words themselves are somehow comforting to the believer, giving a peace that is simply beyond understanding. We love to picture Jesus making this declaration and wish for one moment we were standing by Martha to hear His words.
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
If we read the entire chapter we know that this was a stressful situation. There were all kinds of questions swarming around the circumstances. Where was Jesus when Lazarus was so desperately sick? Why did He delay coming to help? If He would have been there in Bethany this never would have happened. He had healed so many! Now death had come in and all was lost. It was now a hopeless and irreversible situation. These words of His to Martha were meant to comfort her in her grief.
As is usually the case, we will find that the Lord’s words go well beyond the immediate stressful situation He is in. They go much further than words of comfort to the grieving. They even go well beyond the physical resurrection of His close friend Lazarus that was soon to take place. And this is where we must go as believers – to know and fully comprehend His words spoken here, even if it was hidden from this struggling and grieving remnant gathered around the tomb.
The Father’s Testimony
We can easily see in reading the chapter that all the circumstances were engineered and controlled by Jesus. The sickness, the delay in responding, the questions, the four days in the tomb, and the testimony that corruption has now set in were all part of God’s design.
“When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
What would be accomplished was a grand testimony of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, and He being displayed and glorified through this event. The raising of Lazarus from the dead was the Father’s testimony to all who could see that Jesus was His Son, sent into the world by Him (John 11:41-43). This would be the understanding of the circumstances we find in the chapter, and how it glorified God. However, as previously mentioned, His words reach far beyond these circumstances, and speak of truths that far outweigh the raising of Lazarus.
Jesus Christ is our Life
Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life. He is this for all believers. As for our life, He is it. He is our life (Gal. 2:20, Col. 3:3-4). We possess eternal life, because we have the Son.
1 John 5:11-12
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Jesus saying, ‘I am the life’ goes even beyond the eternal life in every believer. The raising of Lazarus was a wonderful demonstration of God’s power and glory, and only God could have accomplished this. We, as believers, given eternal life by the Son (John 17:2-3) are another example of something only God can accomplish (John 5:21-26). We have the Son and therefore possess eternal life. This life however, is the foundational truth upon which all our Christian hopes and desires exist. This life is Christ in us, and Christ in us is the believer’s hope of glory (Col. 1:26-27).
2 Corinthians 5:4-5
“For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
The Life that swallows up Mortality
It is Christ in us, the eternal life we now possess, that will be the power in our bodies that will swallow up our mortality in the rapture of the church. It is the life of Christ by which mortality puts on immortality. And we see that God has prepared us for this very thing. God glorifying our bodies by conforming them to the image of His Son has been His counsel from before the foundations of the world (Rom. 8:29-30). His Spirit given to us is the guarantee that all will be accomplished according to His plan.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
By His Spirit, the life we have will overwhelm the mortality of our flesh through the sovereign work and power of God. We will be changed (I Cor. 15:51). We will be glorified (Rom. 8:30). For the believer, Jesus Christ has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (II Tim. 1:10).
The Resurrection that swallows up Corruption
Jesus also is the ‘resurrection.’ He was this for Lazarus by the power of God, but only in a temporary way. Lazarus eventually died again. Jesus truly is the resurrection for all believers who have fallen asleep in Christ. Jesus raised up from among the dead has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep (I Cor. 15:20).
1 Corinthians 15:23
“But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
At the coming of Christ for the church, the dead in Christ will rise first. That which has been corrupted will put on incorruption. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, the dead in Christ will be raised incorruptible (I Cor. 15:52). It will be according to these words:
1 Corinthians 15:42-45
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, is a life-giving spirit to all those who are found in Christ, particularly for those who have fallen asleep in Him. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. At the rapture of the church, He is the resurrection for the dead in Christ, and the life for those who remain, changing mortality into immortality.
Paul’s words detailing the Rapture – Christ, the Resurrection and the Life
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”
(15) “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
These are the words of the Spirit through Paul concerning the specific details of the rapture event. We have discussed this passage in a previous chapter. It is the Lord’s coming for the church, so that the body of Christ, from that point on will always be with the Lord. It is Christ as both the resurrection and the life of the church. It is Jesus saying to Martha: (John 11:25-26)
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Christ’s words detailing the Rapture – Christ, the Resurrection and the Life
n “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” This is the exact same intention of the Spirit of God, when speaking through Paul in describing the rapture of the church. Paul says, “And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (I Thess. 4:16) That is those who believe in Him, those in Christ, even though they have died, He will raise them, and they will live. “…though he may die, he shall live,” is Resurrection.
n “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” This is the exact same intention of the Spirit of God speaking through Paul in Thessalonians as well, in the same passage about the rapture. Paul says, “…we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep…then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. (I Thess. 4:15-17) That is those who believe in Christ, if they are alive when He comes, they continue living. These will be the ones who will never die. If the believer remains alive to the coming of the Lord for the church, he shall never die – this is Life.
Do you believe this? In John 14:1-4, Jesus speaks of the rapture in general terms. He is coming back for us to take us to where He went after He ascended. He was always excited about returning to His Father. Those He would eventually return for would have the same relationship with the Father as He. He desires for His brethren to be with Him there, with Him and the Father. But here in John 11:25-26, He gives a different aspect to the rapture event, one in which He Himself is the resurrection and the life. There is the intimate relationship and privilege side to this doctrine – these are His words in John 14. There is the other side of the doctrine which is the power and glory of God – these are His words in John 11. So He also says to Martha:
“Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
By the rapture of the church we will enter into the glory of God. We will no longer be falling short (Rom. 3:23). This is the mystery: Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:26-27). It will be the realization of our hopes and Christian privilege. If you are a believer you will not only see the glory of God, but you will enter it, into the very presence of our Father. We will do this with Jesus Christ, for we have nothing and are nothing apart from Him. This is the blessed hope and constant expectation of the church.