John 11:23-27: World without end.
23 Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.”24 Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”25-26 “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”27 “Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.” NIV
It seems that Martha may have taken Jesus’ words in (23) as a commonplace of consolation – the type of comforting, well-meant thing you might find in a bereavement card. It was good that Martha could say what she did (24; and see also 27). Although her faith still had ‘growing room’, what a profound confession of faith she made. Martha often gets a bad press in sermons, as the complaining busy one, while her sister Mary is lauded for choosing ”the better part”, sitting at the feet of Jesus. But we need to balance up that picture with the one painted by John. Martha was a woman of great faith.
In (25) we find another remarkable ”I am” saying of Jesus. Resurrection and life are bound up with His Person; with who He is – Jesus who died and rose again. If I am ”in” Him I can say that He is my resurrection and my life” (see John 1:4; 5:26 and 14:6). In Jesus we experience resurrection and life:
- We experience these realities now. Jesus raises people from spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1-11; John 5:24) to enjoy the life that truly is life, whilst still in the midst of this life. This new quality (and endless quality) of life is one of John’s repeated themes;
- We will experience these realities in the future. There is coming a day when all believers will live in the fullness of the restoration of all things that Jesus came to bring about. Then we will have brand new bodies and we will inhabit, and enjoy, a brand new universe (John 5:28, 29; 2 Peter 3:18).
You can see in Jesus’ wonderfully comforting words (25, 26) that a Christian who dies will still be alive, and so there is a very real sense in which he/she will never die. They just move home; they switch locations:
”The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all.” The Message.
Death does not win in the end. It will not have the final say. Someone wrote about Jesus: ”He death, by dying, slew.”
The question, ”Do you believe this?” (26b) is an important one to face. It can be seen as an invitation as well as a challenge.
In Bishop J.C. Ryle’s book, ‘Holiness’, he talks about what happens to a Christian after death. Ryle admits that there’s a lot we don’t know about the after death state, but he emphasises that we will be better off by far because we will be with Jesus. We may not be as blessed as we will be on resurrection day, but even in a disembodied state we will be blessed. We will be with the Lord.
So, if you are a believer, try to let these inter-related truths grip your heart:
Jesus is the life and He will never die;
In Jesus, you are alive, and you will never die.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you have called me out of the tomb of sin. It is taking more time than I like to remove these constricting grave clothes, and I need the help of brothers and sisters to get me out of them. But I do not belong in the grave any more, and. I am not going back there. Life is my destiny – praise the Lord!