The Gospel of John: The Arrival of Jesus in Bethany. Part Two.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “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. Do you believe this? She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:21-27)

As we have previously noted, when Martha heard that Jesus had arrived in Bethany, she went and met Him. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Martha did not rebuke Jesus but only affirmed her absolute trust in Jesus. Her statement was a confession of a sincere faith in Jesus. However, she attributed any resurrection of her brother to be from God the Father at this point in the conversation.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Martha was not expecting an immediate resurrection of her brother but that is what she was going to receive.

It was at this point in Jesus’ dialogue with Martha that not only did He give us His fifth “I AM” statement affirming His deity but in so doing also presented two promises and one significant and heartfelt question.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus’ affirmation of His deity is repeated in John 14:6, acts 3:15 and Hebrews 7:16. He was saying that He is presently and actively the One who possess the power, authority to restore, impart and maintain physical, spiritual and eternal life. In other words, life in all of its forms. While affirming His position as God with His truthful “I AM” statement, Jesus also made two precious promises to Martha and, by extension, to all believers in Christ.

The first promise was “whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” This is a cause and effect statement. The promise of eternal life is predicated by one’s trust in, commitment to, dependence upon and worship of Jesus Christ alone as Savior and Lord. Life for the believer in Christ does not conclude at the moment of their physical death. On the contrary, they have an eternal fellowship with God because of their union with Christ. The temporary event known as physical death does not interrupt, much less impair, the new life the believer possesses in Christ alone.

The second promise was “and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. It also is a cause and effect statement. Jesus does not contradict Himself when He states in John 11:26 that all who believe in Him will never die. We are all aware of believers in Christ who have physically died. However, Jesus is not speaking of physical death in vs. 26 but rather spiritual and eternal death. While believers in Christ will experience physical death, they will never experience eternal death.

Dr. R.C. Sproul comments that, “The point of Jesus’ announcement is that it is only by means of our union with Christ the risen Lord, through faith alone, that believers come to experience the abundant life of the age to come, which begins now by the Holy Spirit’s power and will reach consummation at the resurrection of our bodies (Romans 6:3-11; Colossians 3:1-3).”

Jesus’ truthful statement of truth, followed by His two precious promises is concluded by one heartfelt question to Martha and, by extension, to all believers: “Do you believe this?” Martha’s response was in the affirmative. “She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Her confession of faith parallels Peter’s in Matthew 16:16 and John’s ultimate purpose for his gospel in the first place.

We know what Martha’s response was to Jesus’ question. What is yours? It truly is a matter of life and death.

Soli deo Gloria!

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