I am stunned and amazed. Jesus performs an impossible miracle. This is a must read chapter in the holy scriptures. I need to get this in my heart and soul. This is the power of the Holy Spirit available to me in the Messiah Jesus, the very Son of God.
Lazarus had been dead four days. FOUR DAYS! Jesus loved this family and Lazarus. Jesus is moved by this all. Jesus has a plan. God has endorsed it. With a shout Jesus will say “Lazarus, come out!”
What happens? Lazarus comes out.
Why is this possible? Let us listen to Martha. She gets the key to all of this. She proclaims: “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.” This faith unlocks the power of God.
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem (less than two miles away). 19 Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, but Mary remained seated in the house.
Then Martha said to Jesus, “Master, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Yet even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
“Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her.
Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Master,” she told him, “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.” | John 11:17-27 (CSB)
Jesus was concerned not only about the faith of His own disciples, but also about the faith of Mary and Martha. Each experience of suffering and trial ought to increase our faith, but this kind of spiritual growth is not automatic. We must respond positively to the ministry of the Word and the Spirit of God. Jesus had sent a promise to the two sisters, and now He would discover how they had received it.
The event recorded in Luke 10:38–42 makes it clear that Mary and Martha were quite different in their personalities. Martha was the worker, the active one, while Mary was the contemplative one who sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to His word. Jesus did not condemn Martha’s service, but He did rebuke her for being “torn apart” by so many things. She needed to have priorities and center her activities on the things that God would approve.
We would expect Martha to rush out to meet Jesus while Mary sat in the house, weeping with her friends. Since Mary later echoed Martha’s words of greeting, it is likely that the sisters often said these words to each other as they waited for Jesus to arrive. While there may have been a tinge of disappointment in the statement, there was also evidence of faith, for nobody ever died in the presence of Jesus Christ. “If” is such a big word! How futile it is to imagine what might have been, if—!
Martha was quick to affirm her faith in Jesus, and Jesus responded to that faith by promising her that her brother would rise again. He was thinking of the immediate situation, but she interpreted His words to mean the future resurrection in the last day. Here is another instance in John’s Good News book of people lacking spiritual perception and being unable to understand the words of Jesus.
Our Master’s reply is the fifth of the I AM statements. It is important to note that Jesus did not deny what Martha said about the future resurrection. The resurrection of the human body is a cardinal doctrine in the orthodox Jewish faith. But in His great I AM statement, our Master completely transformed the doctrine of the resurrection and, in so doing, brought great comfort to Martha’s heart.
To begin with, He brought the doctrine of the resurrection out of the shadows and into the light. The Old Testament revelation about death and resurrection is not clear or complete; it is, as it were, “in the shadows.” In fact, there are some passages in Psalms and Ecclesiastes that almost make one believe that death is the end and there is no hope beyond the grave. False teachers like to use these passages to support their heretical teachings, but they ignore (or misinterpret) the clear teachings found in the New Testament. After all, it was not David or Solomon who “brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel”, but Jesus the Messiah!
By His teaching, His miracles, and His own resurrection, Jesus clearly taught the resurrection of the human body. He has declared once for all that death is real, that there is life after death, and that the body will one day be raised by the power of God.
He transformed this doctrine in a second way: He took it out of a book and put it into a person, Himself. “I am the resurrection and the life”! While we thank God for what the Bible teaches (and all Martha had was the Old Testament), we realize that we are saved by the Redeemer, Jesus the Messiah, and not by a doctrine written in a book. When we know Him by faith, we need not fear the shadow of death.
When you are sick, you want a doctor and not a medical book or a formula. When you are being sued, you want a lawyer and not a law book. Likewise, when you face your last enemy, death, you want the Savior and not a doctrine written in a book. In Jesus the Messiah, every doctrine is made personal. When you belong to Him, you have all that you ever will need in life, death, time, or eternity!
But perhaps the greatest transformation Jesus performed was to move the doctrine of the resurrection out of the future and into the present. Martha was looking to the future, knowing that Lazarus would rise again and she would see him. Her friends were looking to the past and saying, “He could have prevented Lazarus from dying!” But Jesus tried to center their attention on the present: wherever He is, God’s resurrection power is available now.
Jesus affirmed that believers would one day be raised from the dead. Then He immediately revealed the added truth that some believers would never die (and it is a double negative, “never never die!”). How is this possible? The answer is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 18. When Jesus the Messiah returns in the air to take His people home, those who are alive at His coming shall never die. They shall be changed and caught up to meet Him in the air!
Martha did not hesitate to affirm her faith. She used three different titles for Jesus: Master, Messiah, and Son of God. The words “I believe” are in the perfect tense, indicating a fixed and settled faith. “I have believed and I will continue to believe!”
- Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Jn 11:1–12:1). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 335–336). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.