Written by Pastor Sam Naumann
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ 24 Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ 25 Jesus said to her ‘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.'” – John 11:23-26
The bluebonnets throughout Texas have long since bloomed and died off. Looking across picked cotton fields you can see the dried up remnants of the previously green plants. If you walk through an old forest you will find layers upon layers of dead leaves. The cycle of life and death in the plant world is rapid, usually only taking a few months or so to go from green to brown. This brief existence is what the LORD compares our lives to in Isaiah 40:6-7 “The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.”
Life does not last. Whether it takes the form of the 24 hour life of a fruit fly, the eighty or so years that is typical for humans, or even the thousands of years that some trees live; eventually all life ends up like the barren flowers and withered grass in Isaiah. Yet the ending of life for the believer is not permanent. Isaiah goes on in verse 8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Yes, my life and your life will one day end, but the word of God does not end. What God has declared will be true forever, and this is why the end of a believer’s life is not permanent.
When Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, passed away, Jesus came to visit the two sisters. The apostle John tells us that He first spoke with Martha. “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ 24 Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ 25 Jesus said to her ‘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.'” (John 11:23-26) Lazarus was dead. He had been dead for four days.Yet Jesus promised Martha in verse twenty-three that Lazarus would rise again. Martha thought that Jesus was speaking about the last day, but from the rest of the account we know that Jesus meant that Lazarus would rise again that day. Jesus did not chide Martha for her misunderstanding though. Martha’s misunderstanding of what Jesus was talking about did not make her statement any less true. Lazarus and all believers will rise on the last day and Jesus affirmed this more wonderful promise with His following words.
Humans are like the grass and flowers we see around us. We will all die. Yet Jesus promises that those who believe in Him shall live! Skin once cold will become warm again. Eyes once closed will reopen. Hearts once stopped will beat lifeblood through arteries again. Death is temporary for the Christian. Death has no power over the Christian for Death had no power over the Christian’s Master. Christ rose victorious and glorious on Easter morning and in so doing ended the last fear that every person faces as they close their eyes that one last time. Christ has promised and secured eternal life for all who put their trust in Him and, what’s more, Christ has ended spiritual death for His people as well. Even through the death of a Christian’s body, the life of faith that God has granted their soul lives on with Him until that great day when the resurrected bodies of all of God’s children will be reunited with their living souls to spend an eternity with Him in heaven. Yes, Christians die like everyone and everything else in the world, but unlike those whose trust is not in Christ, a Christian really does live through death.