I AM the Resurrection and the Life
The one question troubling the minds of young is generally ‘why has God brought me into this world?’ while the older generation questions ‘why does God desire I should leave this world for something unknown?’ In both cases the fear is of the future that is neither in our knowledge nor under our control. Supposing God reveals our destiny beforehand, many would take it easy in life, resigned to their life of either lack or abundance. Lord Jesus promised an eternal blessed life in His presence and made available through Him. Before His coming on earth, the dead stayed dead with the unrevealed mystery of their life after death, if there was one. The arrival of the Messiah, provided a ray of hope for mankind for an assured life after death thus completely overturning the curse and affect of sin, death itself.
Adam and Eve did not die immediately after sin – what is the curse of death for sin? – “The earth was void, without form and dark” before anything was created on the earth. It could only become habitable for anything, plant, animal or mankind, through the Word of God that revealed Divine glory and filled the whole earth with His Light, so that the process of creation could commence. Life came into being only after the presence of God was revealed and all creatures appeared only at His command – created from the earth. Man was created from the earth and could become a living being only after God breathed into him a part of Himself. All life is from and in God and without Him there cannot be any life and our disobedience of God’s command alienates us from Him. It is this separation of our spirit from God that causes our spiritual death though we may be still alive in the body. This death is the creation of the physical veil of separation between us and God and in the Temple also the thick veil separated us from the presence of God. The physical death occurred once the spirit and soul of man left the body for their future life.
In our sinful state it was impossible that a Holy God would allow us into His Divine presence and the option of offering sacrificial offerings to the LORD was given by God to maintain the relationship with His creation. God in His foreknowledge had in the eternity past decided to send His Son to break this impasse, for mankind was unable to lead a sin free life. Much before His coming, the prophetic name “Immanuel” given to the Messiah reveals His role – as “God with us” and put an end to the separation between man and God. Thus God came to be with mankind in the form of Son of Man to reveal God to them as also to open the door to the presence of God through His life, death and resurrection.
Resurrection is the word translated from Greek word ‘anastasis’ which itself is formed from two words – ‘ana’ meaning up again and ‘histemi’ translated as ‘to stand’. Thus anastasis can be literally translated ‘to stand up again’ which implies a man laid to rest in death is revived to stand up again in newness of life. Lazarus had been dead for four days and Martha, his sister was unwilling to get the stone removed from the tomb for “by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days” (John 11:39). Lord Jesus, the Living Word, created everything and “without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:3-4). As Creator, He has all authority with Him to “breathe life” into anyone to make him stand up again, like he had done to a form of dust to make man.
Why does man require resurrection? – Spiritual separation from God is spiritual death and first need is for man to be revived from this death, by revival of his spirit to be active in communicating with God. Lord Jesus, the Living Word, revealed God in His person, words and deeds thereby providing a template to man to understand God and His will. The Ten Commandments were given to Moses with a similar purpose but mankind was unable to follow these. As a result the religious leaders had created so many separate rules of their own to dilute the essence of God’s commands to make it easier. But God desires that His commands be followed both in letter and in spirit – for He searches the hearts and minds of people to assess their true commitment. Also Lord Jesus showed the way to the exact commands of God with His own example proving that it is possible to follow these. Thus spiritual resurrection occurred through fellowship with the Lord Jesus of the disciples.
The second part was the physical death and final separation from God to eternal damnation, for the ‘wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). Till the sins of mankind were not removed or forgiven through a Divine Act of pardon/exemption, man would remain separated from God even after death. Lord Jesus became Lamb of God to take away our sins to remove this barrier from our being to unite us with God after death as well. Only someone who has come from heaven could go back to heaven and that too with Divine intervention (John 3:13) and Lord Jesus being Son of God not only had this authority but also had and exercised His power over death to lay it down and take it again (John 10:18).
The first part of resurrection is revival from spiritual death through restored relationship while resurrection from physical death to eternally be in His presence is the second part. This will be so till second coming of the Lord to establish His rule over the earth when we shall be in His presence always. The first part was over at the coming of “Immanuel” as man to be with us and restore the broken relationship. We have this assurance that after death the next breath that we will take will be in the presence of the Lord, rejoicing in eternal life in Him.
In addition to resurrection Lord Jesus has also promised life for He is both ‘resurrection and life’ (John 11:25-26). The two are actually inseparable for one who does not have power to take or give life cannot have the power to resurrect. The Greek word used here is ‘zoe’ which means both physical life in the present situation on earth and also spiritual life through being in the presence of God. The Messiah promised to send an “Advocate or helper” from the Father to reveal Him (the Living Word) to us and God’s Spirit dwells in us in fulfillment of the same promise. Lord Jesus then promises His peace to the believers to set our soul at rest in Him (John 14:26-27). He demonstrated His power to multiply material resources – five loaves of bread and two fish – to feed five thousand men to provide abundance in this life.
Lord Jesus blesses us in such an enviable manner that King David, the prophet, could see coming far ahead and declare and claim for himself (Psalm 32). Prophet Isaiah received revelation from God about the ‘Suffering and Glory of the Servant’ and about His being pierced for our transgressions, His being crushed for our iniquities; His suffering brought us peace and healing (Isaiah 53:5). His suffering, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven confirm the genuineness of our faith and truthfulness of His claims and promises. Coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and His power working in us further strengthens our faith. Had this not been proved beyond doubt by innumerable witnesses and then experienced by Saul (Apostle Paul) while proceeding to Damascus to persecute believers and his conversion, we would have been in a pitiable state. But now we are to be envied for such great blessings in Lord Jesus.
The dead are already alive – The assurance of resurrection is not available to us alone who are living in faith but has already been applied to those of our brothers and sisters. They have not perished into darkness but are raised in Lord Jesus. Apostle Paul declares in answer to others beliefs that dead do not rise “If the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:16-17). But Lord Jesus has been raised from the dead on the third day as witnessed by so many who met Him. Those who have died in faith are also raised by the same power – the Holy Spirit – that had raised the Lord and was given to the believers on the day of Pentecost. Since the Holy Spirit dwells in all “children of God”, all believers will be raised into the presence of the Son of God, after their death. Immanuel is with us every moment of our lives on earth in the Holy Spirit giving us life and will ensure our resurrection also after our death.
God has provided ample proof of this statement of the Lord not only in His rising after His death but even during His life. The Messiah revealed His identity and authority through the resurrection of the widow’s son in Nain who though dead, obeyed His command “Young man, I say to you arise” (Luke 7:11-15). Lord Jesus made this statement about Himself just before calling to life, Lazarus, who had been dead for four days (John 11:25; 43). How much more would He do this now that He is seated at the right hand of the Father in full authority and power?
The Kingdom of God is within you – The Pharisees had asked the Lord about the time of arrival of the kingdom of God. His answer to the disciples was “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), though He told Pontius Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). For a kingdom to exist, there must be a king and the real identity of the Lord was revealed to Apostle John as “Word of God” and “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:13; 16). He dwells in us now with and in the Holy Spirit and one part of the Holy Trinity being in us, the King and his kingdom is established in us. As citizens of that Divine heavenly kingdom, we reside in His presence enjoying a resurrected and abundant life already now and will do so till eternity.
Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead glorified God the Father and He and the Son are most glorified in our life of abundance and satisfaction in them. The coming of the Son of God is manifestation of His will to resurrect our dead lives into Him through forgiveness of sins and eternal life of oneness with Him. His promise to answer our prayers is confirmation of that same “new life” in Him made available to all believers. None of the created beings is full in itself to be able to provide for others. Only the Savior Lord allowed us to “see His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. And of His fullness we have all received, sand grace for grace” (John 1:14-16). We receive and live in this abundance of His love through faith in Him!