The last three of the seven emphatic I AM statements Jesus makes in the Gospel of John are made in private. The declarations that He is Good Shepherd, the Door of the Sheep, the Light of the World and the Bread of Life were all made in front of the crowds. It should not be a surprise that these fuller, deeper revelations come to those closest to Him. Even so, each statement employs a metaphor to describe His salvation work. But in each of the conversations or discourses, He also exposes us.
You know the story.
Lazarus is dead. Jesus bluntly tells His disciples as much before they even get to Bethany. After a pointed delay, Jesus responds to the message from Mary and Martha to come. Martha meets Him and affirms (accuses) that if Jesus had come when they first sent for Him, Lazarus would have been healed. She is not wrong. Jesus certainly has power over diseases. He had proved it many times.
When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4
See that’s the key. This sickness is for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it. Martha and Mary saw the sickness from their perspective and with their priorities. Their brother, whom they loved dearly was hopelessly ill. So, of course, they turned to the One they know has both the power and the will to intervene.
Jesus, however, is just weeks away from the cross. His priorities, the Father’s priorities are different. This is not to say He didn’t love Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, because He clearly did. But His overarching purpose was to glorify the Father who in turn would glorify the Son. The greatest glory would come from the redemption of sinners.
Jesus expands on that a few verses later.
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.” John 11:9
There is an appointed time. And His references to the light of this world and those stumbling in darkness echo His mission–to seek and to save those who are lost.
But then Jesus is met by Martha. He declares to her I AM the Resurrection and the Life.
Resurrection comes from a Greek word that means standing again. That’s pretty straightforward. Miraculous, amazing, wondrous, yes. But it doesn’t need a lot of explanation. Every kind of death is reversed in Christ. Every kind. And forever.
But life … this is where things get interesting. This is not the natural life. Greek uses the word bios for that. Think biology. This is something different.
J. H. Thayer in his Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says “zoe is life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last forever (the writers of the O.T. have anticipated the conception, in their way, by employing chaim to denote a happy life and every kind of blessing.”
- Martha was asking Jesus to restore Lazarus’s bios. Jesus was offering zoe.
- Martha was fixed on the present. Jesus wanted her to fix her eyes on eternity.
- Martha was seeking consolation. Jesus was seeking the Father’s glory.
Time was short and those closest to Jesus didn’t understand what His ultimate purpose was. We read the account and shake our heads at their spiritual blindness. But hold on.
- Do we cry out seeking consolation from Christ rather than His glory?
- Are we focused on the present when Jesus wants us to realize there is so much more beyond this life?
- Are we building a bios when Christ wants to draw us to zoe, life real and genuine, active and vigorous, devoted to God, enjoying every spiritual blessing?
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
Jesus said to Martha, Jesus says to us, “I am the resurrection and the life … Do you believe this?”