The Resurrection and the Life


Jesus said to her, “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

Everybody dies. Some don’t even get to be born first – but almost everyone who lives must one day die. Almost everyone.

Thinking about dying doesn’t have to be morbid. For most of history, early death has been much more common and death much more a part of life – not hidden away in hospitals and funeral parlours but experienced and felt and mourned in homes and communities. With modern medicine we begin to feel anything can be cured or managed, that death will wait for most of us until our twilight years – then what death is left we often hide away. Out of sight and mind, because we don’t like the questions it forces us to think on.

Do you know you’re dying? Does it affect how you live? Do you know what will come after? Paradise, nothing at all, sweet release or an endless dreamless sleep? Is there fear of the unknown, whispers of a cruel afterlife or nagging doubt?

Jesus wants to answer your doubts with certainty, simplicity, and hope.

Certainty – because he not only tells us about what comes after death, he demonstrates an authority over death that puts our fears to rest. Weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus – for the suffering death causes all of us, Jesus stood at the dead man’s tomb in John 11:38-44. Four days dead in a hot climate, the body already beginning to decompose. Jesus calls out to his friend, and Lazarus steps out of the tomb. God speaks, death bends it knee.

Then Jesus himself walked through death – executed on the cross, dead without question. Three days later, in John 20 we read of a second empty tomb as once again, God speaks and death must bow before him. But unlike Lazarus who would one day die again, Jesus returns with a body that’s forever beyond death’s reach. In Acts 1:9 he returns to Heaven, and his followers begin to live lives that can only be explained by the death and resurrection of their saviour.

Jesus answers our fear with simplicity because he doesn’t point us to a system, a set of rules or a moral code to gain life after death. He says it’s him. He’s the resurrection, he’s the life. Get to know him. Come and listen to what he says, begin to follow him. What must we do to be saved? Do everything he says to the letter? Too complicated. John 5:24 says:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

Believe that Jesus is who he said he is. Following his other commands comes later; the simplicity and generosity of God is that right from the start, when you believe that Jesus died to pay the price for your sins, and rose to give you eternal life with him, you are saved and you have it.

He brings hope, because death comes for all of us, but Jesus has conquered death for all who believe in him. To the thief on the cross who died beside him, Jesus answered the man’s faith with a promise that was ringing in my ears as I said goodbye to my wife Ali: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Paul, imprisoned as he wrote Philippians, states that for him, to live is Christ and to die is gain. And then in 1 Corinthians 15:51 he writes this:

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

Not everyone will die, because one day Jesus is going to return like lightning across the sky – thunderous, unexpected, glorious – and terrifying for those who don’t already know him. Get to know him now. He is hope, he is satisfaction, he is forgiveness and mercy and peace. He is the word and the light, victory over darkness and death and bright promise of a better place than this. He is the resurrection and the life. Come and get it.