The Resurrection and the Life

KEY VERSE: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” —John 11:25

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: John 11:20-24, 38-44

JESUS had let his dear friend Lazarus die. He could have saved him. Lazarus’ two sisters, Martha and Mary, had sent word in plenty of time for Jesus to come and heal their brother of his sickness. In fact, Jesus had many times demonstrated that his power to heal did not even require him to go to the ailing one to be effective. And yet, when the messenger came and reported Lazarus’ plight, Jesus made no immediate plans to go to his friend’s side, and remained two days more where he was. Then surprisingly Jesus announced to his disciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.” The disciples were somewhat puzzled and replied, “Lord if he sleepeth he doeth well.” Then Jesus said unto them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”—John 11:14

This is one of the many statements found in the Bible which speak of those who are dead as being asleep. In view of God’s plan of salvation, it is indeed a very apt illustration, alluding to the promised resurrection of all who have died. When one is asleep, even though unconscious, they are expected to awaken. Jesus had come to earth as a perfect man to offer his life so that all that are in the grave might experience a grand awakening from the dead.

These dear friends of our Lord believed in the resurrection. As he neared their home in Bethany, grief stricken Martha went out to meet him and said, “Lord if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.” To comfort her, Jesus replied, “Thy brother shall rise again.” Not knowing just what her Master meant, she said, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (vs. 24) Martha knew, from the Old Testament and no doubt from the teachings of Jesus himself, that at a future time there was to be a general resurrection of the dead.

Jesus pointed out to Martha that the promised resurrection would be accomplished by him: “I am the resurrection and the life.” And he went on to reveal that more was involved, that all who were thus awakened would have an opportunity through belief in him to gain everlasting life. Jesus said to Martha, “Believest thou this?” Her reply evidenced a comprehensive understanding of his role in man’s salvation: “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God which should come into the world.”

Jesus had chosen his good friend Lazarus to illustrate these great important truths—that he was the Messiah of promise, the one through whom divine power would raise the dead and bless all the families of the earth. Jesus went to the tomb where Lazarus lay, and asked that the entrance stone be rolled back. Here perhaps Martha’s faith faltered a bit, and she said to Jesus, “Lord, … he hath been dead four days.” But the Master’s delay in coming had no doubt been for this very purpose, to demonstrate that when divine power operates, it does not matter whether one has been dead four minutes, four days, or four thousand years! All will be awakened.

After a brief prayer, Jesus stepped to the entrance of the tomb “and cried out with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth. And he that was dead came forth.”

What joy there was in that little home in Bethany—a prelude to the joy that will engulf the world, when all loved ones return from the grave. Does such a prospect seem incredulous? To many it does. Perhaps to some who followed Jesus to the tomb that day, what he proposed to do seemed incredulous. Yet it was revealed to all that God’s great power finds no challenge in the affairs of men, and will prove victorious even over the ultimate enemy, death. “Then shall be brought to pass the saying … death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” (I Cor. 15:54,55) Jesus will be the agency of that power even as he also asserted: “The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth.” (John 5:28,29) Jesus prefaced these words with the statement: “Marvel not at this.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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