Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I am the resurrection, and the life.—She has spoken of the resurrection as a truth which she believes, and as an event in the far-off future, so remote from the present life indeed, as to be powerless to comfort her now. The two first words of His answer, expressed in the fulness of emphasis, teach her that the resurrection is to be thought of as His person, and that it is to be thought of as actually present. “I,”—his words mean—“and none beside Me, am the Resurrection. I am the Resurrection—a. present life, and not simply a life in the remoteness of the last day.” In the same sense in which He has declared Himself to be the Water of Life and the Bread of Life, supplying in Himself every need of spiritual thirst and spiritual hunger, He declares Himself to be the Resurrection, revealing in His own person all that men had ever thought and hoped of a future life, being Himself the power which shall raise them at the last day, and could therefore raise them now. This is because He is also “the Life,” and therefore every one in communion
He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.—Better, though he have died . . . She thinks and speaks of Lazarus as dead. He asserts that in the true thought of the spiritual life the fact of physical death does not interrupt that life.- Job
CHRIST’S QUESTION TO EACH
JOB’S QUESTION, JESUS’ ANSWER
Job 14:14. - John 11:25 - John 11:26.
Job’s question waited long for an answer. Weary centuries rolled away; but at last the doubting, almost despairing, cry put into the mouth of the man of sorrows of the Old Testament is answered by the Man of Sorrows of the New. The answer in words is this second text which may almost be supposed to allude to the ancient question. The answer, in fact, is the resurrection of Christ. Apart from this answer there is none.
So we may take these two texts to help us to grasp more clearly and feel more profoundly what the world owes to that great fact which we are naturally led to think of to-day.
I. The ancient and ever returning question.
The Book of Job is probably a late part of the Old Testament. It deals with problems which indicate some advance in religious thought. Solemn and magnificent, and for the most part sad; it is like a Titan struggling with large problems, and seldom attaining to positive conclusions in which the heart or the head can rest in peace. Here all Job’s mind is clouded with a doubt. He has just given utterance to an intense longing for a life beyond the grave. His abode in Sheol is thought of as in some sense a breach in the continuity of his consciousness, but even that would be tolerable, if only he could be sure that, after many days, God would remember him. Then that longing gives way before the torturing question of the text, which dashes aside the tremulous hope with its insistent interrogation. It is not denial, but it is a doubt which palsies hope. But though he has no certainty, he cannot part with the possibility, and so goes on to imagine how blessed it would be if his longing were fulfilled. He thinks that such a renewed life would be like the ‘release’ of a sentry who had long stood on guard; he thinks of it as his swift, joyous ‘answer’ to God’s summons, which would draw him out from the sad crowd of pale shadows and bring him back to warmth and reality. His hope takes a more daring flight still, and he thinks of God as yearning for His creature, as His creature yearns for Him, and having ‘a desire to the work of His hands,’ as if His heaven would be incomplete without His servant. But the rapture and the vision pass, and the rest of the chapter is all clouded over, and the devout hope loses its light. Once again it gathers brightness in the twenty-first chapter, where the possibility flashes out starlike, that ‘after my skin hath been thus destroyed, yet from my flesh shall I see God.’
These fluctuations of hope and doubt reveal to us the attitude of devout souls in Israel at a late era of the national life. And if they show us their high-water mark, we need not suppose that similar souls outside the Old Testament circle had solid certainty where these had but a variable hope. We know how large a development the doctrine of a future life had in Assyria and in Egypt, and I suppose we are entitled to say that men have always had the idea of a future. They have always had the thought, sometimes as a fear, sometimes as a hope, but never as a certainty. It has lacked not only certainty but distinctness. It has lacked solidity also, the power to hold its own and sustain itself against the weighty pressure of intrusive things seen and temporal.
But we need not go to the ends of the earth or to past generations for examples of a doubting, superficial hold of the truth that man lives through death and after it. We have only to look around us, and, alas! we have only to look within us. This age is asking the question again, and answering it in many tones, sometimes of indifferent disregard, sometimes flaunting a stark negative without reasoned foundation, sometimes with affirmatives with as little reason as these negatives. The modern world is caught in the rush and whirl of life, has its own sorrows to front, its own battles to fight, and large sections of it have never come as near an answer to Job’s question as Job did.
II. Christ’s all-sufficing answer.
He gave it there, by the grave of Lazarus, to that weeping sister, but He spoke these great words of calm assurance to all the world. One cannot but note the difference between His attitude in the presence of the great Mystery and that of all other teachers. How calmly, certainly, and confidently He speaks!
Mark that Jesus, even at that hour of agony, turns Martha’s thoughts to Himself. What He is is the all-important thing for her to know. If she understands Him, life and death will have no insoluble problems nor any hopelessness for her. ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life.’ She had risen in her grief to a lofty height in believing that ‘even now’-at this moment when help is vain and hope is dead-’whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee,’ but Jesus offers to her a loftier conception of Him when He lays a sovereign hand on resurrection and life, and discloses that both inhere in Him, and from Him flow to all who shall possess them. He claims to have in Himself the fountain of life, in all possible senses of the word, as well as in the special sense relevant at that sad hour. Further, He tells Martha that by faith in Him any and all may possess that life. And then He majestically goes on to declare that the life which He gives is immune from, and untouched by, death. The believer shall live though he dies, the living believer shall never die. It is clear that, in these two great statements, to die is used in two different meanings, referring in the former case to the physical fact, and in the latter carrying a heavier weight of significance, namely the pregnant sense which it usually has in this Gospel, of separation from God and consequently from the true life of the soul. Physical death is not the termination of human life. The grim fact touches only the surface life, and has nothing to do with the essential, personal being. He that believes on Jesus, and he only, truly lives, and his union with Jesus secures his possession of that eternal life, which victoriously persists through the apparent, superficial change which men call death. Nothing dies but the death which surrounds the faithful soul. For it to die is to live more fully, more triumphantly, more blessedly. So though the act of physical death remains, its whole character is changed. Hence the New Testament euphemisms for death are much more than euphemisms. Men christen it by names which drape its ugliness, because they fear it so much, but Faith can play with Leviathan, because it fears it not at all. Hence such names as ‘sleep,’ ‘exodus,’ are tokens of the victory won for all believers by Jesus. He will show Martha the hope for all His followers which begins to dawn even in the calling of her brother back from the grip of death. And He shows us the great truth that His being the ‘Life’ necessarily involved His being also the ‘Resurrection,’ for His life-communicating work could not be accomplished till His all-quickening vitality had flowed over into, and flooded with its own conquering tides, not only the spirit which believes but its humble companion, the soul, and its yet humbler, the body. A bodily life is essential to perfect manhood, and Jesus will not stay His hand till every believer is full-summed in all his powers, and is perfect in body, soul, and spirit, after the image of Him who redeemed Him.
III. The pledge for the truth of the answer.
The words of Jesus are only words. These precious words, spoken to that one weeping sister in a little Jewish village, and which have brought hope to millions ever since, are as baseless as all the other dreams and longings of the heart, unless Jesus confirms them by fact. If He did not rise from the dead, they are but another of the noble, exalted, but futile delusions of which the world has many others. If Christ be not risen, His words of consolation are swelling words of emptiness; His whole claims are ended, and the age-old question which Job asked is unanswered still, and will always remain unanswered. If Christ be not risen, the hopeless colloquy between Jehovah and the prophet sums up all that can be said of the future life: ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord God, Thou knowest!’
But Christ’s resurrection is a fact which, taken in connection with His words while on earth, endorses these and establishes His claims to be the Declarer of the name of God, the Saviour of the world. It gives us demonstration of the continuity of life through and after death. Taken along with His ascension, which is but, so to speak, the prolongation of the point into a line, it declares that a glorified body and an abode in a heavenly home are waiting for all who by faith become here partakers in Jesus and are quickened by sharing in His life.
So in despite of sense and doubt and fear, notwithstanding teachers who, like the supercilious philosophers on Mars Hill, mock when they hear of a resurrection from the dead, we should rejoice in the great light which has shined into the region of the shadow of death, we should clasp His divine and most faithful answer to that old, despairing question, as the anchor of our souls, and lift up our hearts in thanksgiving in the triumphant challenge, ‘O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory?’John 11:25. Jesus said, I am the resurrection — The author and cause of the resurrection of the dead; and the life — The source of life, natural, spiritual, and eternal; of the living, both in the present world and in the world to come. Martha believed that in answer to his prayer God would give any thing; but he would have her to know that by his power he could effect any thing. Martha believed a resurrection to take place at the last day; but Christ tells her he had now the power whereby it should be effected lodged in his hands: from whence it was easy to infer, that he who could raise the world of men that had been dead many ages, could, doubtless, raise one man that had been dead only a few days. Observe, reader, it ought to be a source of unspeakable comfort to us, that Christ is the resurrection and the life, and that he will be such to us, if we be his true disciples. A resurrection is a return to life, and Christ is the author of that return. We profess, in the Creed, to look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Let us remember, then, that Christ is the author and principle of both; and that our hope of both must be built on him. Jesus proceeds: He that believeth in me — With a faith overcoming the world, (1 John 5:4-5,) and purifying the heart; (Acts 15:9;) though he were dead — Or, though he should die, as καν αποθανη is properly rendered; yet shall he live — Not only shall his soul survive the death of his body, and continue immortal, but, ere long, his reanimated body shall be again united to that soul; and even at present I can loose the bonds of death, and though thy brother now is holden by them, I can recall him when I please. Observe well, reader, to whom this promise is made; namely, to them that believe in Christ Jesus, to them that consent to, and confide in him, as the only Mediator of reconciliation and of intercourse between God and man; that receive the record God has given in his word concerning his Son; who sincerely comply with it, and answer all the great and gracious intentions of it. Both the promise and the conditions are further explained in the next verse.1 Corinthians 1:30.
And the life - John 1:4. As the resurrection of all depends on him, he intimated that it was not indispensable that it should be deferred to the last day. He had power to do it now as well as then.
Though he were dead - Faith does not save from temporal death; but although the believer, as others, will die a temporal death, yet he will hereafter have life. Even if he dies, he shall hereafter live.
he that believeth in me, though … dead … shall he live—that is, The believer's death shall be swallowed up in life, and his life shall never sink into death. As death comes by sin, it is His to dissolve it; and as life flows through His righteousness, it is His to communicate and eternally maintain it (Ro 5:21). The temporary separation of soul and body is here regarded as not even interrupting, much less impairing, the new and everlasting life imparted by Jesus to His believing people.
Believest thou this?—Canst thou take this in?
the resurrection; where (as is usual in Scripture) the effect is put for the cause:
I am the resurrection, is no more than, I am, and shall be, the principal cause of the resurrection: the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, John 5:28. He also adds, and the life; that is, the cause of life; both that life which the dead shall in the resurrection recover, and also that eternal life which shall follow. And whosoever looketh upon me in that notion, and committeth himself unto me, though he doth die, yet he shall rise again, and live eternally; and this power being in me, I am not tied to the last day, but have a power when I please to raise the dead. Our Saviour indeed hath more in his answer than respected the present case; but there was nothing more usual with him, than in his discourses to raise up the hearts of his people to higher things, as he doth in this place raise Martha beyond the thoughts of a resurrection of her brother’s body to a natural life, to the thoughts of a spiritual and eternal life.
He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: believers in Christ die as well as others, though death is not a penal evil to them; its curse is removed, its sting is taken away, being satisfied for by Christ, and so becomes a blessing and privilege to them, and is desirable by them; but though they die, they shall live again; their dust is under the peculiar care of Christ; and they shall rise by virtue of union to him, and shall rise, first in the morning of the resurrection, and with peculiar privileges, or to the resurrection of life, and with the peculiar properties of incorruption, power, glory, and spirituality. So likewise such that have been dead in sin, and dead in law, under a sentence of condemnation, as all mankind are in Adam, and being in a natural and sinful estate, and as the chosen of God themselves are; yet being brought to believe in Christ, that is, to see the excellency and suitableness of him as a Saviour, and the necessity of salvation by him; to go out of themselves to him, disclaiming their own righteousness; venture their souls upon him, give up themselves to him, trust in him, and depend upon him for eternal life and salvation; these live spiritually; they appear to have a principle of life in them; they breathe after spiritual things; they see the Son of God, and behold his glory; they handle the word of life; they speak the language of Canaan, and walk by faith on Christ, as they have received him; they live a life of sanctification and justification; they are manifestly in Christ, and have him, an interest in him, and so must have life; they live comfortably; they live by faith on Christ, and his righteousness, and have communion with him here, and expect to have, and shall have eternal life hereafter.Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 11:25-26. Jesus connects with her answer that which He intended to say, as fitted to draw her faith from her own interest to His person: I, no other than I, am the resurrection and the life, i.e. the personal power of both, the one who raises again, and who makes alive. Comp. John 14:6; Colossians 3:4. The ζωή after the ἀνάστασις is its positive result (not its ground, as Luthardt and Ewald think), the eternal life, which, however, also presupposes the happy state of ζωή in Hades, in Paradise (Luke 16:22; Luke 23:43). In the course of what follows, Jesus tells who it is that experiences Him as this power of resurrection and life, namely, ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ. The thought is in both clauses the same; they form a parallelism with a positive and negative declaration concerning the same subject, which, however, in the second clause, is described not merely by πιστεύων again, but by ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων, because this was the only way of making the significant antithetical reciprocal relationship complete. With a view to this end, dying denotes in the first clause physical death, whereas in the second clause it is used in the higher sense; whereas, vice versâ, life is spoken of in the first clause in the higher sense, in the second in its physical sense. Whoso believeth in me, even if he shall have died (physically), will live (be a partaker of ζωή, uninterruptedly, as, prior to the resurrection, in Paradise, so, by means of the resurrection, eternally); and every one who lives (is still alive in time) and believes in me, will assuredly not die for ever, i.e. he will not lose his life in eternity, John 8:51,—a promise which, though not excluding physical death in itself, does exclude it as the negation of the true and eternal ζωή, John 6:50. Compare Romans 8:10. In accordance herewith, ζῶν neither can nor may be taken in the spiritual sense (Calvin and Olshausen): to apply κἂν ἀποθ., however, to Lazarus, and ζῶν to the sisters (Euth. Zigabenus, Theophylact), is inadmissible, simply because Lazarus was to be raised again solely to temporal life. Both are to be left in their generality.
On πᾶς Bengel remarks ingeniously: “hoc versu 25 non adhibitum ad majora sermonem profert,” and on πιστ. τοῦτο: “applicatio … per improvisam interrogationem valde pungens.”
 It is not merely ζωή that is carried out in what follows (Luthardt); for the life which Jesus ascribes to the believer, even in death, finds its completion precisely in the resurrection.John 11:25. Nor does this faith satisfy Jesus, who at once replaces it by another in the words, Ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή. Resurrection and life are not future only, but present in His person; she is to trust not in a vague remote event but in His living person whom she knew, loved, and trusted. Apart from Him there was neither resurrection nor life. He carried with Him and possessed there and then as He spoke with her all the force that went to produce life and resurrection. Therefore ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ … αἰῶνα (John 11:26), “He that believeth on me, even though he die, shall live; and every one who liveth and believeth on me shall never die”. Belief in Him or acceptance of Him as the source of true spiritual life, brings the man into vital union with Him, so that he lives with the life of Christ and possesses a life over which death has no power.25. I am the resurrection, and the life] He draws her from her selfish grief to Himself. There is no need for Him to pray as man to God (John 11:22); He (and none else) is the Resurrection and the Life. There is no need to look forward to the last day; He is (not ‘will be’) the Resurrection and the Life. Comp. John 14:6; Colossians 3:4. In what follows, the first part shews how He is the Resurrection, the second how He is the Life. ‘He that believeth in Me, even if he shall have died (physically), shall live (eternally). And every one that liveth (physically) and believeth in Me, shall never die (eternally).’John 11:25. Ἐγώ) I, present, not limited to the future. Do not suppose, Martha, that you are being put off to the distant future. Death yields to Life, as darkness to Light, forthwith.—ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή, the resurrection and the life) The former title is peculiarly suitable to this occasion; the latter is frequently used. The former is explained presently in this verse; the latter in John 11:26, “Whosoever liveth, and believeth in Me, shall never die.” I am the Resurrection of the dying, and the Life of the living. The former deals with the case of believers dying before the death of Christ; for instance, Lazarus. For there was none of his prey which death was not obliged to restore, in the presence of Christ: the daughter of Jairus, and the young man at Nain. And it is probable that all who at that time saw with faith Jesus Christ, and died before His death, were among those who rose again, as described in Matthew 27:52-53, [After the crucifixion] “the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints, which slept, arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” The latter title treats of the case of believers falling asleep after the death of Christ. The death of Christ deprived death of its power. Before the death of Christ, the death of believers was death: after the death of Christ, the death of believers is not death: ch. John 5:24, “He that—believeth—hath everlasting life—is passed from death unto life:” John 8:51, “If a man keep My saying, he shall never see death.”—ζήσεται, shall live) even in body.Verses 25, 26. - Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection. Not merely that God will give me what I ask, but that I am in some sense already his gift to man of resurrection, inasmuch as I am that of Life. (So Luthardt and Godet, but not Meyer, who makes ζωή the positive result of ἀνάστασις.) By taking humanity into his Person, Christ reveals the permanence of human individuality, that is, of such individuality as is in union with himself. He associates (John 14:6) "the Life" which he gives with" the Way" and "the Truth," i.e. with the whole sum of human experience and of human meditation and speculation, i.e. with all the conduct of the will and the mind. He that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live. In these words he identifies the "life" with the transfiguration of the bodily life. The grand method of this blessed life is faith. The life which is the condition and ground of resurrection is the natural consequence of a faith which accepts Christ, and identifies itself with him. But "there are some who have believed, and have what you call died" - though they die, they shall live. In such cases, so-called "death" is veritable "life." The life of faith will survive the shock of death, and whosoever liveth, and believeth on me, shall never die - shall never taste of death (cf. John 6:51, 8:51). This is no new teaching for the more thoughtful of his hearers. There are multitudes now believing (and therefore living) in him. They shall never die in the sense in which death has been hitherto regarded; they shall by no means die forever. Faith is eternal life: death is only a momentary shadow upon a life which is far better. Whether the corruption of the grave passes over the believer or not, he lives an eternal life, which has no element of death nor proclivity to death in it. So far the Lord is lifting Martha to a higher experience of life and a comparative in difference to death. Before he offers any further consolation, he probes to the quick her faith in him and in the eternal life. Believest thou this? Τοῦτο; "Is this thy belief?" not τουτῷ; "Dost thou believe in my statement?" "Believest thou that the Resurrection which I am and which I give can thus transform for thee the whole meaning of death?" The fullness of life after death is assured in virtue of the resurrection which Christ could effect at any moment, and will eventually effect for all. This life of which Christ speaks may be the life which is the consequence of the resurrection (ἀνὰστασις) of man effected in the Incarnation, or it may be the condition of "resurrection" and sufficient proof that, if a man receive it by faith, he is free' from all the curse of physical death, and assured of a perfect victory over it. So also the οὐ μὴ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα may either mean "not forever," and thus the words may be taken to refer to the resurrection. "He will not forever die," i.e. death may supervene, but will be conquered; or οὐ μὴ may mean "never," "in no wise," and the "never die" may refer to spiritual death, overlooking physical death altogether. The whole narrative is a great parable of life through death.
The words I am are very significant. Martha had stated the resurrection rather as a doctrine, a current tenet: Jesus states it as a fact, identified with His own person. He does not say, I raise the dead; I perform the resurrection, but I am the resurrection, In His own person, representing humanity, He exhibits man as immortal, but immortal only through union with Him.
The life is the larger and inclusive idea. Resurrection is involved in life as an incident developed by the temporary and apparent triumph of death. All true life is in Christ. In Him is lodged everything that is essential to life, in its origin, its maintenance, and its consummation, and all this is conveyed to the believer in his union with Him. This life is not affected by death. "Every believer is in reality and forever sheltered from death. To die with full light, in the clear certainty of the life which is in Jesus, to die only to continue to live to Him, is no longer that fact which human language designates by the name of death. It is as though Jesus had said: In me death is certain to live, and the living is certain never to die" (Godet). On ζωή, life, see on John 1:4.
He were dead (ἀποθάνῃ)
The aorist denotes an event, not a condition. Hence, much better, Rev., though he die.
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