Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
One of the most fundamental desires of man is to continue to live. Some have sought to do so through diet. They have taken vitamins, minerals, herbs, and elixirs of every imaginable concoction seeking to extend life. Some have turned to exercise. They have run, biked, swum, and perspired profusely in effort to prolong life. Some have turned to cryogenics. Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox slugger, died in 2002 at the age of 83. His head is frozen in hopes that one-day science will be able to heal him and bring him back to life.
However, it is not just extended life for which man is longing. Man desires not just quantity of life, but quality of life. Jesus addressed this fundamental longing of man in John 11:25-26.
The context concerns the death of one of Jesus’ friends, Lazarus (John 11:1-ff). Jesus had been in their home (Luke 10:38-ff). Jesus loved this family [(John 11:3, 5, 36) Note: v. 3 and v. 36 indicate phileo love]. He resided in their home, it seems, just prior to the cross (Mark 11:11; 12-14, 19-20).
News was sent that Lazarus was sick (John 11:1). Jesus, upon hearing the news, delayed travel for two days (John 11:6). Why did he delay? (1) Some have suggested that the delay was to give time for Lazarus to die. Such doesn’t fit: (a) The messengers would travel on one day; (b) Jesus would delay two days; (c) Jesus then on the next day would travel (1 + 2 + 1 = 4); (d) Lazarus was dead and buried four days when Jesus arrived (John 11:17, 39); (e) Thus, it seems likely that Lazarus died shortly after the messengers were sent to Jesus. (2) The length of time strengthened the witness of this sign. “Rabbinical writings indicate a common superstition among the Jews, that the soul of a deceased hovered around the body for three days in hopes of a reunion with the body, but took its final departure when decomposition began the third or fourth day.” (Gary Fallis, Brown Trail class notes on John). Jesus had raised others (Luke 7:14-16; Luke 8:52-56); However, in this he demonstrated his power even after decomposition had begun (John 11:39). It brought glory to God, and His son (Jn 11:4).
“Jesus wept” (John 11:35). [Note: It has been said that because “Jesus wept,” we can “rejoice evermore” (1 Thes. 5:16). Such is a play on the two shortest verses in the New Testament. John 11:35 is 9 English letters, or 16 Greek letters. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 is 15 English letters, or 14 Greek letters. Each consists of just two words.]. Jesus ordered, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43) and he did.
It is in this context, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). This is a metonymy. The effect is put for the cause of that effect (that is Jesus). E.W. Bullinger explains the meaning to be that Jesus is “the worker of resurrection and the giver of resurrected life” (Figures of Speech used in the Bible, p. 562).
Jesus added, “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25b). Meaning: though one may die (physically), yet through belief he may live in glory (cf. John 5:28-29; Rom. 2:7-11; Col. 3:4).
Furthermore, He said, “And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26a). Meaning: Possibility #1: This refers to those who are alive at Jesus’ return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Possibility #2: Whoever lives (spiritually) shall never see death (ref. to the second death – Revelation 2:11; 20:6; 20:14; 21:8). This seems to be the best explanation, harmonizing with John 8:51.
Note: The term “believe” (John 11:25, 26) is not a one time action but represents a continuous state of affairs (present active part). This is not a one-time thing. It is a way of life.