What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, "I am the Resurrection?"
If you recall correctly, you remembered that Jesus said this to Martha. This happened after Lazarus had died, and had in fact been dead for a few days. Jesus was just outside Martha and Mary's town, and Martha knew he was coming and went out on the road to meet him.
And Martha was not exactly happy. She was perhaps, exasperated and flustered. She said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then Martha tells Jesus that she still knows that God will do for Jesus whatever he asks. And how does Jesus respond? Jesus says, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha then answers and says, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” And then Jesus replies, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
And right here I want to pause for a little while; and look at what Jesus said to Martha. It is another one of those many instances when the word we use to translate misses a little something; but that little something is actually quite meaningful.
See Martha said to Jesus, “I know my brother will rise again at the resurrection of the last day.”
Martha is talking about the belief that many of the Judeans and Galileans had at that time. They believed in a resurrection event that would occur in the future, on the last day. All the righteous that had died before would be resurrected at that point in the future. The word she uses is anastasei. Martha refers to the anastasei – and every single place in the Bible where it talks about the resurrection in the Gospels in the New Testament that is the way the word is used – the anstasei. The resurrection; referring to the the future event. When Jesus replies, however, he uses a different form. He does not say, “I am the resurrection event.” He doesn't say I am the anastasei; instead, he replies I am the anastasis.” And truly to get the deeper meaning here, it is this –
Martha says, “I know my brother will rise again at the resurrection.”
And Jesus replies, “I am the raising up and the life." What he means is, "I am that which resurrects. I am the life.” And the word life is the word zoe; and that word in the Greek implies within it both physical life and spiritual life, particularly the spiritual future life.
Then Jesus goes on and says, it's translated in most English versions something like this: “the one who believes in me, will live, even though he should die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Now I am going to read this to you in a more close word for word reading or translation more directly tied to the original language. I like the way it flows, and the way things are juxtaposed in the original it reads more like this: Jesus says, “The one believing in me – even though he should die; he will live. (Those two are juxtaposed - side by side. Even though he should die; he will live.) And everyone living and believing in me will never die, never, for eternity." There is also some extra emphasis in the original.
So Martha says, maybe even she is sighing, “Yes I believe my brother will resurrect at the final resurrection event.” Then Jesus gives her a whole new knowledge. I believe this is the first time Jesus explained anything this deeply to anyone about the eternal, spiritual life that continues on after death. He explained it to Martha, "The one believing in me – even though he should die; he will live. And everyone living and believing in me will never die, never, for eternity.”
He knew he could trust Martha with this knowledge; and then he asked her, “Do you believe this? Do you believe this knowledge, this insight, this spiritual truth I just gave you? And Martha says. “Yes, Lord. I believe you are the Christ, the Messiah - the one the world is expecting.”
Oh be like Martha. She has her close moment with Jesus on the road – in her grief – in her disappointment; and Jesus meets her where she is coming to him; and he reveals this great truth about who He is; what He does; and what this means for our future.
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