Lord Jesus claim to be the resurrection and life can only be seen as true, if He Himself could travel on that route. The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb reported the details of the event, about the angels and resurrection but were silenced by the Chief Priests and Jewish elders with money and assurance of safety from any action by Pilate or Romans. Death would separate a person from God but our Lord ascended to heaven visibly and seen by many. He has not only Himself ascended to heaven but also opened the way to follow Him there and live in His presence here on earth with the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Lord Jesus – Resurrection and life meaning – The statement of the serpent to Eve, ‘You will not surely die’ if you eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was proved wrong for the moment they ate from that, they hid from God and separated from God (Genesis 3:4). Their earthly part, the dust of the earth’ or their physical element died much later but spiritual death was immediate. Lord Jesus told Martha, after the death of Lazarus, her brother, ‘I AM the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live’ (John 11:25). Resurrection is to bring a dead person to life; to cause something that had ended or been lost or forgotten, to exist again, to be used again. Resurrection is about coming back to life whereas reincarnation is rebirth in a new body as a human or an animal being as believed by some.
Physical life, on the other hand, is about breathing and use of mind, heart and soul, for an individual may be breathing but brain dead. Spiritual life is about establishing and remaining in fellowship with God, the source of all life. Apostle John identified the Lord Jesus as ‘life and the life was the light of men’ and also that He ‘was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world’ thus calling Him Creator of the universe (John 1:4&9). The resurrection part is about life in the Spirit and restoration of relationship with God the Father and life in God and physical life can both be restored by the Lord with eternal life in heaven.
God laid down the rule of a burnt sacrifice to Moses for all Israelites, ‘Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him’ (Leviticus 1:4). Through faith in the sacrifice of Lord Jesus, we receive the same blessing but it is effective permanently. With this the door is opened and entry into the presence of God is made available immediately and a believer who ‘believes and receives’ Him receives ‘the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12). Apostle Paul terms this as ‘citizenship in heaven’ and ‘joint heirs with Lord Jesus’ in His kingdom in heaven (Philippians 3:20). The Apostle further states that, ‘Even when we were dead in trespasses, (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grave you have been saved), And raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 1:5-6). With this new life is received by any person through faith in the Messiah and His sacrifice and this change occurs while we are still here on earth and not after physical death.
Lord Jesus declares to the believers, ‘the kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17:21). This kingdom and the life that the Lord promised is in us, is not something that we receive at some later time, after death or on the final Day of Judgment, but immediately on surrendering to His Sovereign control. Apostle John’s definition of the real status of Lord Jesus as ‘the life, and the life was the light of men’ is in line of His statement to Martha (John 1:4). His call to the man who had been dead for four days and had suffered deterioration of the body and resultant stench, ‘Lazarus, come forth’, affirms His power over death and to give life (John 11:43 & 39).
This restoration of life to Lazarus was not about him ‘but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it’ (John 11:4). The new life that we receive through faith in Him is also bearing His resurrected life to the rest of the world that needs kindness and restoration to What God desires it to be. Before the Passover, during a meal in Bethany at Lazarus’ home, the Lord was invited for a meal and ‘a great many Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead (John 12:9-11). But the Chief Priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him, ‘many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus’. To receive this resurrection and life from the Lord, one does not have to face physical death first. Lord Jesus taught Nicodemus, ‘the ruler of the Jews’ that entry into the kingdom of God is available to those who are ‘born of water and Spirit’ (John 3:5-6). It is also about the new birth from a physical life controlled by the lusts of the flesh to a new life empowered and led by the Spirit of God.
Edward T. Welch, an American psychologist and counselor says about the Lord, ‘Jesus entered the temple area and revealed that He was the perfect and final priest; even more, He was the entire temple. All the temple symbols suddenly came to life. He was the bread of the Presence, the Bread of Life. He was the candlesticks, the Light of the World. He was the perfect priest, the Great High Priest who would offer the sacrifice, and He was the sacrifice itself, ‘the Lamb of God’, who takes away the sin of the world, everything in the Old Testament temple was gathered together and fulfilled in Jesus’. The Chief Priests, who were appointed to worship God were so blinded by their pride of position and greed that they refused to recognize Him as the much awaited Messiah. They rather plotted to ridicule and kill Him.
What is different about resurrection of Lazarus? – During the famine of more than three years, Elijah stayed at Cherith brook and then at the widows house at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:22). The widow’s son died suddenly and Elijah raised him from the dead the same day. The young son of the Shunamite woman was also raised by Prophet Elisha on the same day (2 Kings 4:33-36). The only son of a widow of Nain, in Galilee, was being carried out and Lord Jesus, ‘touched the open coffin’ to stop those who carried him (Luke 7:11-15). He then said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise’ and ‘the dead sat up and began to speak’. The young man was raised from the dead on the same day for as per Jewish Law, a dead body must be buried the same day of death for it is presumed that the soul of the dead person is in great turmoil till the burial.
Jairus, a synagogue ruler sought out the Lord for healing his daughter, but while on the way, a message about her death was received (Mark 5:35 & 41). Lord Jesus told him, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe’. At his house, Lord Jesus ‘took the child by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha cumi’ and immediately she arose and walked. Lazarus had been dead for four days before he was raised back to life. The surprising statement is that ‘Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was’ (John 11:5-6). He did not rush back to help those He loved but stayed put there only. Even today, God has not changed and ‘He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think’ (Ephesians 3:20). Yet we suffer loss of life of our dear ones and the reason still is the same ‘Jesus loves us’.
King David declares about God knowing all about his life, even before he was yet born’ (Psalm 139:16-17). The All-knowing Son of God stayed put where He was for two more days as an expression of His love for Lazarus and his two sisters, for that is what the text reveals.
But what love is this that allowed their suffering? On hearing about the Savior Lord’s coming, Martha ‘went and met Him’ with a complaint and a prayer (John 11:20-22). ‘Had You been here my brother would not have died, but even now God will give You what You ask of Him’. God is time and He can never be late and death and time are nothing before Him. Martha had faith in His power to heal but not about resurrection back to life. Mary also came to the Lord immediately on hearing about His coming, and on seeing Him, ‘she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died’ (John 11:29, 32 & 35). She made a statement of faith and surrendered to His will and ‘Jesus wept’, despite knowing that He was about to raise Lazarus back to life. Lord Jesus wept on two occasions, once for seeing the pain and anguish of Martha and Mary, at the loss of their brother, grieving over the result of sin in the world. The second time is about the loss He felt over His rejection by the people of Jerusalem for they would not get this chance to see Him again till the Day of Judgment (Luke 19:41 & 13:34).
In whole of Scripture dead were raised back to life on the same day and Lord Jesus is the only One who was resurrected back to life by God the Father after three days – The Jewish belief is that for three days the soul of a person hovers around the dead body, seeking a chance to reenter the body, thus the custom of funeral the same day. Decomposition of body though starts immediately after death but reaches advanced stage on the fourth day. Since Lord Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters so much, He waited for two more days before moving to Bethany and this is the only resurrection recorded where all such laws were reversed by the Lord as a confirmation of His claim of being ‘resurrection and life’.
Lord Jesus statement about Himself being the resurrection and the life also has another two aspects to it. First, a believer, though he ‘may die, he shall live’ and this is both about physical death and resurrection to eternal life to live in the Father’s mansion in heaven in the place prepared by the Lord (John 14:1). The second part is that ‘whoever lives and believes’ in the Lord as Savior, ‘shall never die’. Apostle Paul has clarified this, that at the second coming of the Lord, those ‘who are alive (at that time) and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet Lord. And thus we shall always be with Him’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Apostle John further clarifies about this eternal life that God has given to us and how we receive that (1 John 5:11-12). Faith in the Messiah leads us into this for, ‘this life is in His (God’s) Son. He who has the Son has life’. This gift of resurrection and life is for God’s glory and purpose, for with this He does through us what we cannot on our own for His resurrection power brings to life the dead potential in us. He does not only recharge our potential but gives it new life.
Effective changes in a believer’s life – Any change in our life depends on our attitude towards the Savior Lord. Martha went to meet Him whereas, her sister, Mary sought Him to worship and in worship we place our supplications before Him in faith to receive an answer. However, when we go to meet someone we complain, ask and hope that He will answer. Both the sisters loved the Lord and wanted to do the best for Him, Martha through food and Mary through personal attention by sitting at His feet. Lord Jesus commended Mary for choosing His Word, ‘which will not be taken away from her’ (Luke 10:41-42 ). Are we seeking Him as King of kings and Lord of lords or as a learned teacher? Either He is everything for me or just a preacher!
Saul obtained authority letters from the high priest to bring believers from Damascus ‘bound to Jerusalem’ (Acts 9:1-2 & 15-16 & 20). After meeting the Lord, His mission from persecutor was changed as a witness before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel’ and suffer greatly for the Lord. Immediately thereafter, he started to preach in the Synagogues about Lord Jesus being the Son of God. Again and again Lord Jesus told that He does nothing on His own but as the Father shows Him, for He has no personal agenda but to bring glory to the heavenly Father. When this becomes the attitude, only then has the real resurrection taken place in this life for me.
Because of this notable miracle which could not be refuted the Jewish leaders planned to kill Lazarus also, along with Lord Jesus (John 12:10-11). Lord Jesus warned of the dangers for we are sent ‘as sheep in the midst of wolves’ and opposition from the forces of darkness will surely come (Matthew 10:16). Nicodemus came to Lord Jesus in the night for he was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin and he was afraid of other Jews (John 3:2). The same Nicodemus joined Joseph of Arimethea with about a ‘hundred pounds’ mixture of myrrh and aloes for His Lord’s burial. Apostle John was so filled with the love of the Lord to call himself six times the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ in his Gospel. Legend has it that he was put in boiling oil but suffered no ill effect and was finally exiled to Patmos island, where he was lifted up to heaven and received the revelation of Lord Jesus
After new birth in the Lord, real commitment to the cause of the Lord’s kingdom work must start. It is to be like all the disciples who reached out to various corners of the world to preach the Gospel and suffered death in those far off lands. The resurrected life is from Him and must be lived for Him!
Love of God is manifested fully in His Son, His crucifiction, resurrection and culminates and reaches fruition in His ascension and glorification with restoration of His Divine glory. Every believer through faith in Him as his Savior is restored back to close fellowship with God and lives on the earth in His power and strength and eternal life thereafter. It is not our own works but through grace and mercy of God we receive this new life in the Lord. It is readily available and one has to reach out and grab it.