And Jesus said, “I Am” … life, forevermore
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Jesus’ “I am the gate”, and “I am the good shepherd” metaphors bewildered His listeners. At the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) their questions continued: “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (John 10:24). Again they tried to stone Him, and again He slipped away, across the Jordan, where many believed (10:31-42). He was there when news came that His friend Lazarus was sick.
By the time Jesus joined Mary and Martha at Lazarus’ tomb, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days (John 11:17). Separately each sister regretted Jesus’ absence: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (11:21&32). As some of the mourners said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (11:37).
Everyone had heard what Jesus had done: a man, born blind, could see (John 9:1-7), an invalid by the pool called Bethesda could walk (John 5:1-15), and the royal official’s son, close to death, lived (John 4:43-53). However, this was different. Lazarus had died and was at the point of stinking (11:39). Still, Martha had a sense of hope: “I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (11:22). When Jesus reassured her Lazarus would rise (11:23), she certainly did not expect it to happen that day. Rather, her thoughts went to “the resurrection at the last day” (11:24). Jesus picked up the conversation there: “I am the resurrection and the life…” (11:25-26).
Holy week approaches. At the end of the Last Supper Jesus predicts His betrayal (John 13:21) and departure (13:33), leaving all the disciples puzzled. First Peter, “Lord, where are you going?” (13:36); next Thomas, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (14:5). Jesus’ answer, “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (14:6), only prompted more questions.
Resurrection was not a new thought to the Jew; Jesus simply added to their theology: to “rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (11:24), you had to believe in Jesus. The essential part of that belief was as Martha said, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world” (11:27). The Messiah was expected, eternal life was promised, and only one way would get you there—belief.