John’s Gospel records seven great “I am” statements that the Lord Jesus used to identify Himself. Some of these are linked to the seven great miracles of Jesus that John records in this Gospel as signs to verify the claims of the Lord Jesus and to provide a solid foundation for our faith.

John 11 records the last and most spectacular of these miraculous signs and I would like to point out three great revelations that this miracle provides concerning the Lord Jesus.

But first, let’s set the stage. Jesus and His disciples had crossed over to the Transjordan, the land east of the Jordan River, because of rising opposition and hostility from the Jewish religious leaders. A message was sent to Jesus that His dear friend Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, was sick. Yet the response of the Lord Jesus was most unexpected. He neither left immediately to help His friends, nor did He heal from a distance as He had done before (John 4:46-54). Rather, He intentionally waited until Lazarus died so that He could perform a greater, unmistakable miracle so that He, the Son of Man, might be glorified (John 11:4) and so that the faith of the disciples would be strengthened (John 11:15). So when Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, they found that Lazarus had already been dead four days.

The revelation of Christ’s identity

As always, the Gospels emphasise the identity of the Lord Jesus, through His words, His works, and also through His titles. When Martha heard that Jesus was on His way, she went out to greet Him, and in her sorrow confronted Him, saying, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!” (John 11:21). Jesus assures her that her brother will rise again, but she thinks He is speaking of the resurrection at the last day (Daniel 12:2-3). Jesus responds with this remarkable claim:

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

John 11:25-26

As C. S. Lewis famously said, anyone who speaks like this is either a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord! Death is the great leveller, the great, unavoidable certainty that overtakes us all. But here is a man who claims that He not only has power over death but has power to grant those who trust in Him life after death. The apostle Paul was utterly convinced of this truth and would later say that through “the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, [He] has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).

But what proof could Jesus offer for this incredible claim? First, He raises Lazarus from the dead that same day. Second, within weeks He would lay down His life and take it up again (John 10:17-18). If Jesus’s body lay rotting in a tomb, His claim to be the resurrection and the life would be shown to be empty words and unworthy of our faith and devotion.

The revelation of Christ’s heart

Martha, having expressed her faith and confidence in the promise of the Lord Jesus, went to call her sister Mary. Mary came out and fell at the feet of Jesus and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!” As Jesus saw her weeping, He was intensely moved in the spirit, greatly distressed (John 11:33), and wept openly (John 11:35). Even though He knew what He was about to do, and even though He had intentionally waited for Lazarus to die, still His tender heart was touched by the sorrow that His friends were suffering. And as we see His compassion, we discover also the heart of God; because John wrote:

“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

John 1:18 (NIV)

The revelation of Christ’s power

The problem of pain and suffering is something that every person must deal with, no matter their worldview. Some have rejected belief in God because of the loss of a loved one. Some have assumed that while God cares about our suffering, He is helpless to do anything about it. But this account of the raising of Lazarus demonstrates not only God’s love and care, but also His power over our greatest enemy, death. Jesus comes to the tomb and, without hesitation, tells the people to take away the stone. Then He commands Lazarus to come forth from the tomb and Lazarus comes out, still wrapped in the graveclothes in which he was buried (John 11:43-44).

This miracle was not performed in some undisclosed location, hidden from unbelieving eyes. The town of Bethany was just two miles from Jerusalem, the religious and political capital of the country, and there were many hostile witnesses present on this occasion. John records that many believed in Jesus because of this great miracle, and even the chief priests and Pharisees recognised the reality of His power. But they considered His growing popularity to be a threat to national security and to their privileged position and decided that the only way to stop Jesus was to put Him to death (John 11:47-53). How ironic! And how futile to think that they could kill the One who is the resurrection and the life!

Not long before the Apostle John died, the risen, glorified Lord would appear to him on the island of Patmos where he was imprisoned for his preaching about Jesus. John is overwhelmed by the glory of this vision, and Jesus comforts him with words that should be a comfort to all those who like Martha and Mary believe in Him:

“Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen.”

Revelation 1:17-18

The resurrection of Jesus is a powerful testimony to the claims that He made. And if Jesus was standing before you today His question would still be the same: Do you believe this?


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