Monday, April 13, 2009

Do You Believe This?

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)
These are the words Jesus spoke to Martha. Her brother Lazarus had been in the tomb four days. Martha had said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (v. 21-22).

Jesus assured her, “Your brother will rise again” (v. 23).

“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day,” she said.

Then Jesus answered, “I am the resurrection and the life.” We often limit the resurrection to an event, or a time. But, first of all, it is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the resurrection; He is the life. The statement “I am” goes back to God’s answer when Moses asked Him, “What shall I say to the children of Israel when they ask who sent me and ‘What is His name?’” God said, “I AM WHO I AM … Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).

How do we receive this resurrection and this life? By faith in Him. “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” In both the body and the spirit, there is death and there is life. We come to Him spiritually dead, He gives us spiritual life. When we believe in Him, though the body may die, the spirit lives on and will never die.

On another occasion, Jesus said.
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. (John 5:24-25)
It is a spiritual resurrection He speaks of here, but there is also a physical resurrection coming, for He adds, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29). So Martha was correct, there will be a resurrection of the body in the future, at the “last day.” Jesus gave us a glimpse when He called forth Lazarus from the grave — and Lazarus came back to life. But it is seen most powerfully and enduringly in the resurrection of Jesus Himself after three days in the tomb. It is important to note that He rose bodily from the grave, for as the “firstborn from the dead,” He is the guarantee of our own bodies being raised, we who believe in Him.

So there are two resurrections in view: one spiritual, the other physical. We receive them both by faith, for Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Me.” This presents us, then, with the question He asked Martha, “Do you believe this?”

Now, faith is not passive but active. It is a verb as well as a noun. Though in English we have “faith” as the noun and “believe” as the verb, in Greek, they are both the same word. Faith is not just something we have but something we do. It is an action as well as a possession.

“Do you believe this?” Notice the tense. Jesus did not ask, “Did you believe this?” but “Do you believe this?” Faith is not about what you may have believed at some point in the past but about what you are believing now. That is the only question. Faith is always present tense — that is where the life is. God is eternal and the place where we meet Him is the present.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. For those who believe in Him, there is spiritual resurrection now and bodily resurrection in the future. Do you believe this? That is the question the season of Easter presents to us.