Contained in the Gospel According to John are a series of “I AM” statements. In several places, Jesus gives good news to people by claiming that what they need – He is.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 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. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
In addition to the Twelve Disciples, there were some women who closely followed Jesus, and then three siblings: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. These three were close friends of Jesus, so close in fact that when Lazarus died, Jesus wept. The story told in John chapter 11 begins as Lazarus was ill, and the sisters sent an urgent message to Jesus: “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” It seemed a little strange, but Jesus stayed where he was for two more days before he went to check on his friend. By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, the illness had taken its toll and Lazarus had been dead for four days. Having heard the story before in church or Sunday School, most of us are aware that Jesus went on to raise Lazarus from the tomb. But before this miracle, in a conversation with the sisters of Lazarus about their brother’s physical death, Jesus said,
“I AM the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die will live…”
That was not only true; it was one promise of Jesus that they desperately needed to hear.
The more time I spend in ministry, and the more friends I end up burying, the more I need to hear these words of Jesus. The Lord whom I trust is the One who was dead, and who lives. As his follower, his resurrection is a preview of how my life will end, and continue. As all of us think about life, and our friends and family whom we dearly love, those words of Jesus are welcomed over and over again.
“I AM the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die will live.”
Thanks. I needed that.
God of our past, present, and future, thank You for the promises we find as Christ is a part of our lives. Let us live now in His love, and know that through His love we get to enjoy life eternal. Amen.