John 11:25-26

My dad is buried in a little country graveyard on Cape Breton Island. The inscription on my dad's gravestone reads, "Jesus said,

'I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die."

We wanted to put something significant on his gravestone and I think that's one of the best verses that anyone could pick. When we asked the gravestone company to put it on they hesitated and questioned us about it because they thought it was a little too long. I supposed we could have shortened it by just putting the first sentence on, but we really wanted the whole thing put on it so they relented and did what we wanted. It's a wonderful verse. It is jam packed with important truths. Leon Morris describes this verse as, (The Gospel of John, NICNT; p. 488)

"one of the great declarations of Jesus"

in John's gospel. It surely is. It contains great truths that should help us to have greater faith in our great Savior.

The first thing we see from our text is that

these truths, 'resurrection' and 'life', are rooted in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus didn't say, "I have come to bring resurrection." He didn't say, "I have come to bring life." No. These things things are not external to Him, they are part and parcel of Him. They are bound up in Him. There is an identification of these truths with the person of Jesus Christ. R.C.H. Lenski writes,

"No resurrection and no life exist except as they are embodied in Jesus. When he is absent, resurrection and life are absent; when he is present, resurrection and life are present."

William Hendriksen adds, (John, Baker New Testament Commentary, p. 150)

"Jesus is the resurrection and the life in person… As such he is also the cause, source, or fountain of the believers' glorious resurrection and of their everlasting life."

Resurrection and life are inextricably linked to the person of Jesus Christ.

Note how John puts this. The "I am" part doesn't seem unusual to us but in the Greek it is actually unusual. It's very emphatic. John could have expressed "I am" with one Greek word, but he used two. The first one he used is the very emphatic personal pronoun, "I". John followed that with the verb, "I am." If we were to literally translated, it would be,

"I, I am."

That's very forceful. Jesus is really emphasizing this point. He is the resurrection and the life. Jesus is not saying that He believes the resurrection or that He teaches the resurrection—He says that He is the resurrection. Leon Morris says, (The Gospel of John (NICNT, p. 488)

"So much are resurrection and life associated with him that he says that he is the resurrection and the life."

This is an important point. Resurrection and life are not things that are external to Jesus—they are embodied in Him.

Let me illustrate. Last week I was at the grocery store buying groceries and as I was checking out the girl who was bagging my groceries asked me if I needed help taking my groceries out to the car. It's the first time that has ever happened to me. Why did she ask me that? I don't think I look infirm or handicapped. Do I look really old? I don't think so. But it had something to do with the way that I looked. Maybe it was my grey hair. Whatever it was, it was something related to me. It's wasn't anything external. I wasn't in a wheelchair or anything like that. It had to do with me, the way that I was. She looked at me and something about me caused her to ask me if I wanted help out.

The text before us is like that. Jesus is telling Martha a truth about Himself. He's not talking about 'resurrection' and 'life' as abstract concepts. He speaks about these things and says that they are embodied in Him. He said,

"I am the resurrection and the life."

Jesus often made claims like this. He often identified various expressions of salvation with Himself. In fact, Jesus' statement here is one of the great "I Am" statements of Jesus. There are seven of them in John's gospel that are usually grouped together. In all of them the beginning is emphatic. "I, I am." In John 6:35 Jesus said,

"I am the bread of life",

and that whoever comes to Him will never go hungry and he who believes in Him will never go thirsty. In John 8:12 Jesus said,

"I am the light of the world"

and that whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. In John 10:9 Jesus said,

"I am the gate"

and whoever enters through Him will be saved. In John 10:11 Jesus said,

"I am the Good Shepherd"

and that the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. In John 14:6 Jesus said,

"I am the way, the truth and the life"

and that no man comes to the Father except through Him. In John 15:5 Jesus said,

"I am the vine and you are the branches".

There is one way in which all the seven sayings are the same. He is these things. They are not external to Him. Each of these truths has an organic connection to Jesus. As R.C.H. Lenski says about the resurrection and the life in our text, that they are

"actually and literally embodied in Jesus."

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He is the light of the world. He is the bread of life. He is the gate, the vine, the way, the truth and the life.

All these sayings are expressions of salvation that, taken together, point to the truth of Jesus' great "I am" statement in John 8:58. Jesus said to the people,

"I tell you the truth,
before Abraham was born,
I am!"

Jesus emphatically stated that He was Yahweh Himself, the One that revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush. He is the great covenant God. He is their Savior. He is the One who has come from the Father.

All of these sayings shows us that only Jesus, only God Himself is capable of saving us from our sins. The curse of sin is death. No one else is capable of overcoming that. Only He came from the Father. Only He can save us from death. Only He can give us life. Only He can lead us to the Father. Only He can give us resurrection life.

All of these things point us to an indisputable truth. They show us that

salvation is about a relationship with Jesus. It is through Him that we obtain resurrection and life.

He is the only way to God. He is the resurrection and the life. This is not in ourselves. It is in Him. It is vitally important to grasp this truth.

It's not enough to believe in God. It's not enough to believe the resurrection. It's not enough to believe that eternal life exists. What we all need is a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. That's what being born again is all about. The Spirit opens our hearts so that we see the glory and beauty of Jesus and we trust and commit ourselves to Him. We trust in Him to save us, to wash away our sins, to give us eternal life.

So many people today think that they're all right as they are. They don't think they need Jesus. They don't think that they need to trust Him. They think that they can disregard His commandments and live as they please. They think that when they die, if there is a heaven, they're going to go there. They think that if there is a God, He's going to accept them. In essence they are believing that the resurrection and the life are, not in Jesus, but in themselves. They could not be more mistaken.

Our society today doesn't like the fact that the Bible and Christianity teaches that Jesus is the only way to God. They think that's an arrogant claim. They don't want us to hold to it. They want us to be just one religion among many. They want us to see value, truth, worth and salvation in every religion. They want us to drop this exclusive claim.

We cannot. It is impossible. The fact is that salvation is only through Jesus. Only He can save us. Only He is qualified. Only He is powerful enough. As we saw in Revelation 5, only He is worthy to take the scroll and open the seals. (verse 9) No one else in heaven or earth could open the scroll or even look inside. But Jesus, by virtue of His life on this earth, His death and resurrection—is worthy to take the scroll. As the 24 elders sang in Revelation 5:9-10,

"You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased
men for God from every tribe
and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom
and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth."

No was else was found worthy to open the scroll. The great "I am" statements could only be uttered by Jesus. They point us to His power, His glory, His love, His sacrifice. There is no one like Jesus. It is by virtue of who He is and what He has done—Jesus is able to save us. He is the only One who is able to do that.

Some people today will tell you that there's no historical proof that Jesus even lived. Others will tell you that He never claimed to be God. They will tell you that Jesus never claimed to be anything more than a teacher. They will perhaps tell you that He was a great prophet. Some will tell you that He never died on the cross. Still others will tell you that He was just a man and that we would be wrong to treat Him as anything else.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The only reason they can say such things is because they totally reject the clear teaching of Scripture. Jesus is the great "I am." He is the only One who can save us.

Not only do you need to hold on to this truth as an individual,

as a church we need to proclaim salvation only through Jesus Christ.

One of the great truths that the church is to proclaim to the world today is that they need Jesus. Only Jesus can save them. Stand up for that truth. Believe it. Proclaim it.

If Jesus Himself is the resurrection and the life—this means that all other religions are false. They will not, cannot bring you to God. Only Christianity has the true message.

We don't say that to be arrogant. We are to say that because we love God and His truth. We are to say it because we love people and want them to be saved. It's not about arrogance. It has never been about arrogance. You don't see arrogance in the apostle Peter and his preaching. You don't see arrogance in the apostle Paul's preaching. What you see in their preaching is a love for sinners and a desire for them to find life in Jesus. He's the only way to God. They knew it and so they courageously pointed people to Him.

The third thing we see in our text is that

you need to 'believe in' Jesus in order to gain the resurrection and the life.

Jesus said,

"He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die."

We need to trust in Jesus. Andreas J. Köstenberger writes, (John, BECNT, p. 335)

"By identifying himself to Martha as 'the resurrection and the life' in the present… Jesus seeks to shift Martha's focus from an abstract belief in resurrection on the last day to personal trust in the one who provides it in the here and now."

How does one obtain resurrection and life? Is it by looking to yourself and trying your best?

No. It's about faith in Jesus. We're sinners. The wages is death. We need to stop looking at ourselves and start looking at Jesus. We need to see that He's our only hope. We need to see that He died as our substitute. He endured the curse of sin and paid the price of our sins.

We obtain salvation by trusting in Him to save us. It's a gift. As we read in Ephesians 2:8–10,

"For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith—
and this not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—
not by works,
so that no one can boast.
For we are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus
to do good works,
which God prepared in advance
for us to do."

The fourth thing we see in our text is

the great promise that Jesus gives to those who believe in Him.

Jesus said,

"He who believes in me will live,
even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me
will never die."

There are two promises—resurrection and life. Jesus said, "I am the Resurrection" — that is, the one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. He said, "I am the Life" — that is, everyone who lives and believes in me will never ever die.

If a person, like Lazerus, believes in Jesus dies, He will live again, whether immediately, like Lazerus, or at the resurrection at the last day. This means that no living believer will ever die—in the ultimate sense. Death's dominion is only an illusion for a believer. Jesus said that Lazarus was sleeping. Death's dominion is only partial and temporary. Christians who die immediately go to be with the Lord and will rise again on the Last Day to live forever with God. If you find life in Jesus you will live forever.

For those of you who are not Christians this means that

you need to believe in Jesus.

With Him you can have resurrection and life. Without Him all you have is death. You need Jesus. Do you believe this? If you don't you are on your way to destruction. You need to go to Jesus now.