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What Does Jesus Mean When He Says, "I am the resurrection and the life" in John 11:25?



“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” John 11:25 

Our Savior came to earth to testify to God's Truth, His Truth. And in doing so as a human He chose to feel what we feel. Jesus’ life on earth, death on the cross, and resurrection, was and is the way God chooses to shower mercy on us. God, who is love, sacrificed His Son in the greatest act of love the world will ever know. John, self-proclaimed, “one who Jesus loved,” was Christ’s earthly best friend. Much like the way he saw himself changed because of Jesus, his Gospel brings the love God has for us, and the way He sees us, to life. We are all the ones Jesus loves!

John leaned on his Savior at the Last Supper. His Gospel account is rich with the friendship the two men shared. As John retells the story of Jesus raising His friend Lazarus from the dead, he camps out on a pivotal Gospel truth. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. It is in Jesus, we find true life and resurrection from the death our sins warrant. As believers in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for our sins and was raised from the dead, we are raised to new life in Christ.

Who Is the Resurrection and the Life in John's Gospel?

Life is a major theme and concept of John’s Gospel. The word life occurs 36 times in his Gospel compared to no more than 17 in any of the other Gospel accounts. “Jesus did not merely have the power to resurrect,” Moody Bible Commentary explains, “His claim I am the resurrection and the life makes Him the very source of resurrection and all life.” John recorded seven, notably the Biblical number signifying perfection, of Jesus’ profound “I am” statements:

“I am the Bread of Life.” (John 6:35)

“I am the Light of the World.” (John 8:129:5)

“I am the Gate.” (John 10:7)

“I am the Good Shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14)

“I am the Resurrection and the Life.” (John 11:25)

“I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6)

“I am the True Vine.” (John 15:1)

Out of the seven, three contain the word “life:” “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35); “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” (John 11:25)and “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. “All of God’s sovereignty is mediated through Christ, and it hinges on his power over death in his resurrection,” preached John Piper. One person of our Triune God, Jesus, came to earth fulfilling over 300 Old Testament prophecies with His birth alone. “Everyone who lives refers to one’s physical life since it is followed by and believes in Me,” Moody Bible Commentary explains, “Only in this life does one have the chance to believe in Christ (Hebrews 9:27).” 

The New Testament contains four Gospel accounts, all of which focus mostly on the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. John’s purpose is clear: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31) Life is Christ’s gift (John 10:28) and he, in fact, is ‘the life’ (John 14:6),” explains the NIV Study Bible, “Life in living fellowship with God- both now and forever.”  

The Meaning and Context of John 11:25, "I Am the Resurrection and the Life"

Jesus had friends during His life on earth. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were among His close friends. At this point in John’s narrative, Jesus receives word that Lazarus is sick and dying. Instead of rushing to His friend’s side with a miraculous healing, Jesus stays back for two more days. “This sickness will not end in death,” Jesus said, “No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). When He finally arrives, Mary and Martha are distraught. Martha tries to piece together what she knows about Jesus and His teachings but struggles to fully understand why Jesus didn’t come before her brother died. “Jesus comforts Martha in her grief and gives her an eternal hope all because she stopped to listen to what He had to say,” wrote Yvonne Morgan for Beloved Women

Our Savior weeps with us. He truly knows how we feel. At the sight of His friends’ pain, He felt sadness. Though He must have known it would cause His friends pain, Jesus was always obedient to His Father in Heaven. Everything He said and did glorified God the Father. He raised Lazarus from the dead with a command, and suddenly the truth becomes clearer for those who witnessed him walk out of the tomb. 

“Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” John 11:40

There are seven signs in the Gospel of John, one of them being Lazarus’ resurrection from the dead: Changing water into wine (John 2:1-11); healing an official’s son (John 4:43-54); healing a disabled man at the Bethesda pool (John 5:1-15); feeding the 5, 000 (John 6:1-14); walking on water (John 6:16-21); healing the man born blind (John 9:1-12); and raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44) (NIV Study Bible notes on Jn 11:25). Lazarus had been dead for days. In fact, his sister warned Him of the smell as Jesus approached the tomb. “Only as we confront the reality of death will we appreciate the hope of the resurrection,” wrote Constantine Campbell for desiringGod, “There is nothing like death to make us desire resurrection.”

Many had seen His miracles, including Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. But to raise someone from the dead was a possibility that escaped them. At one point, Martha says to Jesus: “...if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21-22). When Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again  (John 11:23), Martha repeats what she knows of Jesus’ teachings but still fails to connect them to who He is: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” And to that, Jesus replied: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Raising the dead is something only God is capable of. “Jesus raises the dead because he is the resurrection,” preached John Piper. Jesus not only gives resurrection and life, He is Resurrection and Life. “Our ultimate hope,” John Piper explains, “is not simply to be with Christ in immaterial existence, but to have resurrected bodies.” He was with God in the beginning (Genesis 1 and John 1), came to earth to live, died on the cross, and was raised to life; He now sits at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is eternal, which is what we become … in Him.

How Does the Verse "I Am the Resurrection and the Life" Encourage Christians Today? 

“You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?” - John 11:25-26, The Message

I can rejoice in the resurrection,” wrote Elyse Fitzpatrick,God is pleased with Jesus. I am ‘in’ Jesus. God is pleased with me. My meager efforts please him. I am living in the light of his smile. How do I know? The resurrection.” 

Great Old Testament prophets like Jeremiah delivered the message of God’s hope during times of devastation. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). King David, the great king anointed by God, from whose ancestral line the Messiah would come to earth, put his hope in God’s unfailing love (Psalm 147:11). “David in the Psalms speaks with spectacular specificity about the resurrection of the One to come,” wrote Dr. Micheal A. Milton. 

Psalm 16: 9-10 says, “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” 

What David, Jeremiah, and so many other heroes of the faith in the Old Testament looked to has come to fruition through Jesus Christ. “The resurrection of Jesus Christ and of those who follow Him is much more than just a doctrine or a theological concept,” wrote Trevin Wax for thegospelcoalition.org, “Jesus not only gives life; He is the life!" Jesus came so that we could live our lives to the full. If the greats of the Old Testament could speak and live with such great hope and outstanding faith, how much more can we as believers with the Living God dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit gifted to us by Jesus’ sacrifice. God’s expression of love towards His children is hope in the Resurrection and the Life. “The love of God,” preached John Piper, “is the gift of his glorious self.” The Way, the Truth, and the Life is Jesus Christ. “To believe that Jesus is ‘the Christ, the Son of God; means to believe that He is my resurrection and eternal life” (Moody Bible Commentary). 

The resurrection ushers in hope,” wrote Dr. Michael A. Milton,and assures us that what is hoped for is true and lasting.” Paul, who had suffered so much in this life, considered it all joy. He knew the power of forgiveness. The power of new life. He had persecuted Christians before becoming one. In his letter to the Romans, he said, “May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13

For more verses on hope, click here.

A Prayer for Resurrection Hope

Father, 

Make still our souls this moment, to collect the full scope of Your love for us. Continue to teach us, Father, and let us remember and retain the truths You have revealed to us here today. Our grateful hearts lift praise to You, their Father and Creator. There is something so special about digging into the text of Your love story with us. A good Father, beyond our wildest imaginations. Stretch our minds to expand enough to know more and more of You every day we breathe until You take us home. Help us to see people the way You see people. May we live free, and love others in Your name. Let all we do bring glory and honor to You. Thank You for Your mercy, compassion, and forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world. You give us new life. In You, we get a glimpse of what eternity will be like. Guide us home, day by day. Set our hearts to beat in sync with the truth of Your Word. Let our lives speak of what Jesus came to accomplish. May we never forget the victory is ours, death is defeated, and Jesus has risen. 

In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” - 1 Peter 5:10 

This world isn’t easy to live in, but we can traverse through it with great joy and peace. The peace of God, Paul assures us in Philippians 4:6-7, surpasses all understanding. It will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. This is how we live a resurrection life in a fallen world. “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint” (Isaiah 40:31). 

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/mbolina

Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as an author, freelance writer, and blogger at Sunny&80. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,”  is available on amazon.com. She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters. Besides writing, she leads a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. She lives in Northern Ohio with her husband, Jim, and two daughters.

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