Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” John 11:25
Growing up, one of my favorite TV game shows was “To Tell the Truth.” In this game a panel of celebrities were presented with three people who claimed the same identity. The celebrities’ challenge was to question the contestants in order to distinguish which contestant was the real person. Two of the presenters lied as they answered the questions and one was sworn to tell the truth, thus the questions had to be framed in such a way that the panel could distinguish between the truth tellers and the liars. After several rounds of questioning the host would ask if the real person would stand up and the celebrities would see if their guesses were correct.
Much like the classic game show, today there are many religions that claim to represent the true identity of God. If one doesn’t ask the right questions and seek the truth, one can easily be led astray and never discover the identity of the one true God. In John 11:25, Jesus makes an amazing claim about himself that separates him from all others who try to claim his identity. In a sympathetic statement to his grieving friend, Martha, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
While other spiritual leaders have lived for and served their followers—perhaps even some giving their own very lives for their cause—Jesus is the only one to have the power and authority to claim victory over death. His words to Martha are words of reassurance and hope. He reminds her that the pain that she is experiencing in the loss of her brother, Lazarus, is only temporary. When she has nothing else to hold on to, she has the hope and promise that Jesus offers by being the life-giver.
Life is not a game show. Like Martha, we too live with pain and loss. But we can also live with that same hope that she has. The historical evidence and proof of Jesus being the one who overcame death by his resurrection is overwhelming. His resurrection is proof of his identity, and it gives us the hope that our future resurrection will be just as the Scriptures promise. The Apostle Paul reminds us that the resurrection is so significant that if it were not true, our faith would be useless and our service to him would be in vain (1 Cor. 15:14).
However, when we see the true identity of Jesus, one that no one else in history can claim, we are able to keep our hope even when the troubles and burdens of this life weigh us down. Because Jesus is the resurrection and life—the one who won the victory over death—we can stand firm. We can give our lives fully to the work of the Lord because we know that our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Dwight Carter is lead pastor at Zoar MB Church in Inman, Kan.