“I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?” Those were Jesus’ words in John 11:25. What does it mean that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? And as Jesus said, “Do you believe this?” Jesus life and work is based upon this great reality—that he is Life.
Jesus has been revealed as the giver of life, in a number of ways. Materially, he gives life to water, making it wine. Spiritually, he offers the new spiritual life of the kingdom of God to Nicodemus and the life which springs up within a person satisfying all thirst, to the woman of Samaria. Physically, he imparts life to a dying boy, a long-standing physical paralytic, and a man born blind. He is the good shepherd who has come to give life ‘to the full’ (10:10). The life he brings is primarily ‘eternal life’ (literally ‘life of the age’), the life of the long-awaited kingdom of God. Jesus now fills out these claims to their fullest proportion. The life he gives is nothing less than the indestructible life of the resurrection, the very life of the deathless God himself.
Being the image of God, Jesus is and has life in himself. His ministry displayed that he is able to give life where there was death. His Gospel offers that life to the world dead in sin.
I AM THE LIFE
Before we can understand how Jesus is “the resurrection,” we need to understand better how Jesus is “the life.” The Bible speaks of the “book of life,” the “bread of life,” “eternal life,” and “new life” all in close connection to Jesus. The “breath of life” refers to the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent into the world after his departure. There are different Greek words translated “life.” “Bios” focused on the simple aspect of being alive. We have the word biology—the study of things which live. The word “ψυχὴν” “psuken” is also translated life, but it refers primarily to the soul of a living thing. “ζωή” “zoe” is the final word translated life and it seems to refer to the quality of a living—the quality of life. It is frequently used to contrast the condemned and the saved (Matthew 18:8-9; 19:29; 25:46).
John used the word “life” to describe the quality of life which inherently resided in Jesus and is extended to all living things and especially the immortal life bestowed upon the saved. John 1:4 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” The quality of “life” which was inherent in Jesus is the hope “light” of mankind. Hence, all those who believe in him “may have eternal life” (Jn. 3:15-16). In verse 36 of chapter 3, John wrote, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life but the wrath of God remains on him.” This everlasting life is passed on from Jesus to the saved. “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24).
Jesus is life and the source of life for the saved because the Father has placed His Son in this mediating position. “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself” (John 5:26). So, this “life” is a quality which resides in Deity and is shared with the saved. As Jesus said, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).
Jesus described this sharing in his depiction of himself as the bread of life, the living water, and the covenant meal of John 6:53-54. In John 6:48, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” He compared himself to the manna which fell in the wilderness for the saving nourishment of God’s people. The manna foreshadowed Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51).
I AM THE RESURRECTION
Since Jesus is Life, he is also able to be Resurrection. We have already hinted at this in the discussion of Jesus as the life. He has life in himself (John 5:26), and he gives life to those whom he wills (John 17:2). The one’s who receive “life” have received the Holy Spirit as the down payment (2 Corinthians 1:22) of the physical resurrection to come (Romans 8:10-11).
Jesus has made the resurrection possible. He is the embodiment of our resurrection hope (1 Corinthians 15:12). Our English word “resurrection” is from the Latin word “resurrectio” which means “rising again.” The Greek word “ἔγερσιν” is once translated “resurrection” in Matthew 27:53. It has to do with an “awakening” or living again. The Greek New Testament has the word “ἀνάστασις” 41 times. This word means “to stand again.” This word is used to describe the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of all people to come at the end of time.
The resurrection of Christ is the basis of the Christian expectation. 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 is written to prove the resurrection of Christ from the testimony of Scripture and the eyewitnesses who saw Jesus before and after the resurrection. With the proof of the resurrection in view, we can appreciate the benefits of Jesus’ resurrection—we too shall rise (1 Corinthians 15:20-2). This is the focus of the Apostles’ preaching. They were “proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). Paul preached Jesus and the resurrection (Acts 17:18, 32). He stood trial because he believed in and preached the resurrection (Acts 23:6).
Christians are certain of their future resurrection because of Jesus’ resurrection. Romans 6:5 says, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” 1 Corinthians 15:12 asks, “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Paul was so certain of Jesus’ resurrection and his future resurrection that he “suffered all things as rubbish” so that he could “know Christ” and “the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:8-10).
The future resurrection is a consequence of Jesus’ resurrection of such great importance that to deny it is to deny the faith (2 Timothy 2:18). To deny the future resurrection is to denigrate Jesus’ own resurrection. If we do not glory in the power of Jesus’ resurrection, then we are in fact dishonoring God. If we do not believe that the Father raised Jesus from the dead, then we do not believe in the God of the Bible (Romans 4:24; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20). No wonder then that the resurrection, Jesus’ and ours, is such a foundational facet of the glorious Gospel.
Baptism is given as the first resurrection which initiates hope for the second in Romans 6. Paul rebuked the readers for entertaining the thought of “sinning that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1). Christians are not to sin because they have died to sin and are buried in Christ when they are baptized (Romans 6:3). Baptism, the initiation into Christ, is the spiritual resurrection which gives hope for the physical resurrection to come.
RESURRECTION THE LIFE
Jesus is the resurrection because he is the life. He has the essence of life within himself and he is able to share that with his people. This reality is pictured by the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. Before the world was condemned in sin, Adam and Eve enjoyed what would have been immortal life because they were constantly nourished by the Tree of Life. After they sinned by taking fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, God cut off their access to the Tree of Life. God “drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden, he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).
Jesus, the Resurrection, and the Life, is the reversal of every bad thing that happened in the Garden. He must be the resurrection because we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1, 5). God “gives life to the dead” (Romans 4:17). Paul points to how those in Christ have hope because they “were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,” but then “God made alive together with him” (Colossians 2:13). They are resurrected (“made alive”) “with him.” This word “συνεζωοποίησεν” translated “made alive” is composed of the words: “with,” “alive” (ζωή), and “to make.” It is only used in Colossians 2:13 and Ephesians 2:5. Sin made the living die, but Jesus made the dead to live (1 Corinthians 15:21).
 Bruce Milne, The Message of John: Here Is Your King!: With Study Guide, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 163.