Has anyone else noticed the surge of literature and media about zombies? I don’t mind it, although the literary nerd in me balks at the modification of Jane Austen’s classics into zombie apocalypse novels (I actually understand they’re pretty good).
It’s interesting to me because that is the prevailing thought or comprehension of what it is to be brought back to life after you die. You turn into a zombie. Some mindless, groaning, decomposing monster that lumbers around eating people.
But resurrection in Scripture has a much different look and feel. One of the most famous chapters in Scripture is John 11 where a good friend of Christ’s, Lazarus, dies and Jesus goes to raise him from the dead. Today’s verse is John 11:25.
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.
People have called it one of the most profound verses in Scripture. And why not? This simple statement is deep. Jesus said this to Martha after her brother Lazarus died … shortly before Jesus would raise him to life again.
And I’ve heard it many many times. You can’t be in any church’s drama team when Easter comes around and not know this verse. I’ve been involved in three passion plays and a passion play divided into four parts, and this verse was in all of them.
It’s one of those famous statements of Jesus’ that is used over and over and over again until everyone has heard it and everyone recognizes it — but no one knows what it means.
What does it mean?
And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe it means too much to sum up simply. That’s what makes it so profound.
I mean, first of all, it was heretical at the time. Shoot, it’s heretical now, even in some “Christian” circles to believe something like this: that your sole source of salvation from sin is through Christ alone.
It means that all you need is Christ.
It means that once you accept Christ, death has no power over you anymore. Because even if you die, you’ll still live.
It means you actually have to die before you can live, literally and figuratively. How’s that for blowing your brain cells on an early Wednesday morning?
It means so much. There are so many truths packed into a simple two sentences, it’s unreal. But that is how Jesus speaks. Nothing He says is extraneous.
And even though I’ve read this verse and heard this verse and know this verse, this morning, something stood out to me that I knew but hadn’t really thought about before.
Why do you think Christ makes a distinction between being the resurrection and the life?
He calls Himself the Resurrection. Then, He calls Himself the Life.
Why doesn’t He just call Himself the Life? Why doesn’t He just call Himself the Resurrection? Because a part of me had always thought they were the same. But they’re not if you think about it.
Resurrection is restoration. It’s a return to living, a revitalization of someone who had been dead.
Life is life. Life is the everyday challenges and pursuits we face. Life is what we live. Life is a process.
Resurrection is something extraordinary. Life is mundane. But Christ identifies Himself as both separately.
What does that mean? Because Jesus doesn’t waste words. If He wanted people to know that He was just the Resurrection, that’s all He would have called Himself. Likewise with Life. But He didn’t do that. He’s both. And it was important enough to identify both individually.
And that tells me that He is the only source of our Resurrection — our return to living from our sentence of death. He is also the only source of our Life – the purpose we have for living.
That’s huge. Because not only does He love us enough to grant us new life in resurrection, freeing us from the bondage that sin and corruption and death has in our lives, He loves us enough to give us Life too.
Because it’s one thing to return to life. It’s another thing to live, truly live.
What do you think it was like for Lazarus? Or for the other people Christ brought back to life? It’s my personal opinion that they didn’t remember heaven. Because if they had remembered heaven, they would have had no interest in living in this world. Personally, I feel that’s why Christ cried at Lazarus’s tomb before He raised him from the dead. He didn’t want to have to bring Lazarus back to this cold, broken world, but it was something that had to happen to demonstrate to people who Jesus was and is. But what was life like for Lazarus after he came back? Because he had to live, but how did he live?
I know Christians who have trusted Christ. That’s the resurrection. Accepting Him and His gift of salvation brings us back to life. But many times it stops there. And people who have been raised from the dead keep living for things that are temporary.
But that’s not why Christ offers to bring us back to life. He wants to bring us to life so that we can really live, and that means living for things that will last forever. Loving God. Loving people. Living in a way that impacts eternity.
You can’t really live if you’re focused on things that will fade away once the world ends.
Going back to the zombie illustration: all a zombie is really is someone who’s been brought back to life. And if you call “life” lumbering around mostly decomposed, groaning and eating people … then, zombies really live.
Resurrection isn’t enough to live. Resurrection brings you back to life. But living is up to you. Living is a choice. And who you live for will determine the quality and the purpose of your life.