“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (RSV-CE Jn. 11:25-26)
Some context and background is necessary to unpack the meaning behind this self-identifying statement. First, Mary and Martha, longtime friends and supporters of Jesus believe in the then contemporary teaching of a final resurrection of the dead. The common teaching was that the resurrection was God’s final victory, His vindication of the righteous. Second, ancient Jewish burial custom required that the family keeps vigil at home for the first seven days after a person was laid to rest. The spirit of the deceased person was thought to have left the body after three days. Lazarus was in the tomb for four days. This meant that he was really dead.
When Jesus tells Martha that her brother Lazarus will rise, he was originally speaking of the final resurrection. Martha’s faith was greater. Even though her brother was “truly” dead, she believed Jesus could still heal him. She believed God would grant Jesus anything he requested. I am the resurrection and the life shows the power of Christ. He is the one who will raise the dead. He is the one through baptism who gives new life. Because of that new life through belief in Him, the faithful will rise.
True to form, Jesus put the question back to Martha and asked her if she believed this.
“…and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27* She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.’” (11:26-27)
Martha’s faith is the faith that we should have, that is we should have faith in God’s gift of Jesus to lead us to eternal life in Him, because of Him, that through Him.
- Bergant, Dianne C.S.A., and Robert J. O.F.M Karris. The Collegeville Bible Commentary. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1986.
- Brown, Raymond D. S.S., Joseph A, S.J. Fitzymer, and Roland E, O. Carm. Murphy, . The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Vol. I and II. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1968.
- Hunt, Michal. "The 7 Symbolic "I Am" Metaphors of John's Gospel." Agape Catholic Bible Study. AgapeBibleStudy.com, 2007. Web. 21 June 2015. <http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts/Seven%20Days%20and%20Seven%20I%20AMs%20in%20John's%20Gospel.html>.
- Just, Rev. Felix, Ph. D. "Christology in the Fourth Gospel." Catholic Resources for Bible, Liturgy, Art, and Theology. Felix Just, S. J., 8 July 2013. Web. 21 June 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fcatholic-resources.org%2FJohn%2FThemes-Christology.htm>.
- Just, Rev. Felix, Ph. D. "I AM" Sayings in the Fourth Gospel." Catholic Resources for Bible, Liturgy, Art, and Theology. Felix Just, S. J., 11 July 2012. Web. 12 June 2015. <http://catholic-resources.org/John/Themes-IAM.htm>.
- Lewis, Scott M. The Gospel According to John and the Johannine Letters. Collegeville, MI: Liturgical, 2005. Print.
- Martin, Francis. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015. Print.
- Mays, James L., et al., . Harper's Bible Commentary. New York City, New York: Harper San Francisco: a Divison of Harper Collins Publishers, 1988.
- Wilson, Neil S., and Linda K. Taylor. Handbook of Bible Charts & Maps. Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2001.
I AM the Resurrection and the Life
4/ 5Oleh JIM Woodmansee