Focal Passage: John 11:17-27
Though there is debate about the origin of the phrase, the idea that “death is the great equalizer” has been present in literature for at least two hundred years. Death eventually comes to all of us. As I heard an old preacher once say, “we are all born terminal.” Those facts do not change the suddenness of loss or the emptiness felt by those who are left to mourn.
Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus were dear friends of our Lord Jesus. This small family hosted Jesus in their home when He passed through their region. They loved Jesus and believed in Him. So much so that they sent for Jesus as Lazarus was sick and near death. But, death came for Lazarus before Jesus arrived. His death was a painful loss.
But, his death was not final. In fact, his death served a greater, kingdom purpose. Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise again. She assumes he is speaking eschatologically and affirms her believe that, yes, someday, Lazarus will rise in the resurrection to come at the last day (John 11:23-24). But, that is not the extent of Jesus’ meaning. In fact, it is in correcting Martha’s misunderstanding that Jesus issues one of the more famous “I Am” statements: “I am the resurrection and the life” (v. 25).
Martha had misunderstood Jesus to be thinking about the future. But, Jesus was not limiting His power to raise the dead to some future event. Rather, Jesus makes clear that those who believe in Him have eternal life in the present.
When we place our faith and trust in Jesus our spiritually dead nature is brought to life by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:1-5, Romans 8:11). That Spirit filled life is not bound by the constraints of this world, but lasts forever. When Jesus tells Martha that He is the resurrection and the life, He is saying that He not only provides the means by which the dead are raised, but that He possesses the life to which they are raised. A life that is as eternal as He is. What a blessed comfort!