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John 11:17-27

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (Jn.11:25–26).

Understanding the full ramifications of what it means to belong to the Good Shepherd gives us great comfort indeed. Those sheep who follow Him cannot even snatch themselves from the Father’s hand, nor can anyone else imperil their final redemption (John 10:27–28). This promise can be trusted because the Father who gives the sheep to the Good Shepherd is “greater than all,” and He works with the Shepherd to keep the sheep safe (vv. 29–30).

The final “I Am” saying that we will consider in our study of John’s gospel is “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25). Setting up the scene in which Jesus made this pronouncement, John tells us that our Lord’s good friend, Lazarus, died while Jesus was beyond the Jordan (10:40–11:16). When He returned to Bethany, He found that Lazarus had been dead for four days (v. 17), which is a significant fact. Popular Jewish thought at the time said that a soul would periodically revisit its body for a few days after death. Jesus postponed His return until there would be no hope for, or explanation of, a resurrection by any means other than a direct intervention of God.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, He told Martha with confidence that Lazarus would live again (v. 23). Martha seems not to have understood Him at first, for in the interchange with Jesus she agreed that there would be a future resurrection of all the dead (v. 24). Though the Bible does teach a future physical resurrection (Job 19:25–27), Jesus was not discussing that future event in particular. This is clear in that Jesus did not simply agree with her belief but asserted that “I am the resurrection and the life” (v. 25), bringing the focus of His audience to Himself and not to other things. He was identifying Himself with the very event of resurrection and the reality of eternal life. Jesus was claiming to be the source and power of resurrection — the one who grants and guarantees the life of His followers, and He demonstrated the veracity of this unbelievable claim by calling Lazarus forth from the grave.

Without fear we can entrust our final destiny into the hands of Jesus, for He is the one who grants us life. He resurrects us spiritually when we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and He will raise our lifeless bodies on the final day, reuniting them with our spirits that we might live as whole, redeemed beings in His presence forever.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

God made us as beings of both flesh and spirit, and we will experience our redemption fully only when both body and spirit have been raised and glorified. On that day, we will be free of all disease and pain, and we will be able to live as we were originally made to live — in the very presence of our Lord. Let us rejoice that God will not reject these bodies of ours but will perfect them in the day of Christ Jesus.

For Further Study
  • Daniel 12:1–4
  • Revelation 1:8, 17–18
Related Scripture
  • John 11
  • John

The Good Shepherd

Truly Spiritual Disciplines

Keep Reading The New Testament Epistles

From the January 2011 Issue
Jan 2011 Issue