Jesus—His Life and Message: The “I Am” Sayings

March 27, 2018

by Peter Amsterdam

The Resurrection and the Life

Just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead,1 He spoke to Lazarus’ sister Martha and said:

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”2

This is the third time Jesus made an “I Am” statement when He performed a miracle. In previous instances, He stated I am the bread of life3 after He fed the five thousand, and I am the light of the world4 after He healed a man who was born blind. This time, He said I am the resurrection and the life prior to bringing a dead man back to life.

In raising people from death back to life, as in the cases of Lazarus, the dead man who was being carried out of the town for burial,5 and the ruler’s daughter,6 Jesus demonstrated that He had power over death itself. This power was further demonstrated when Jesus rose from the dead three days later, after being brutally scourged and hung on a cross until He died. His resurrection from the dead proved that He was the Son of God.

He was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.7

His sacrificial death and resurrection from the dead made a way for those who believe in Him to also be raised from the dead and to have life eternally. Jesus was the first to die, resurrect, and never die again, thus the apostle Paul called Him the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.8

As believers, in a sense we experience two resurrections. The first is experienced spiritually through salvation, and the second will occur physically when Jesus returns and our bodies rejoin our spirits. The concept of salvation as a spiritual resurrection is found in the book of Ephesians. Paul wrote:

You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.9

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.10

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.11

As unsaved sinners, we were spiritually dead, but salvation spiritually resurrected us. While we will eventually die physically, our spirit will be fully conscious as it dwells in the presence of the Lord until the time when Jesus returns. When He does, our spirits will be united with our resurrected bodies, which will be transformed to be like Jesus’ body upon His resurrection.

When Jesus said “I am the resurrection,” He was declaring that He had the power to raise the dead. Earlier in the Gospel of John, He stated:

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.12

We believe this because He defeated death, and rose triumphantly. Because He lives eternally, we will also live eternally.

Besides declaring that He was the resurrection, Jesus also said that He was life, meaning He had the power to grant life after death. This authority was given to Him by the Father:

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.13

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. … For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.14

In the opening words and throughout the Gospel of John, we read of Jesus having life:

In him was life, and the life was the light of men.15

The bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.16

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.17 

Because He has life within Himself, He has the power to bestow resurrection on all those who believe in Him. Because He is life, death has no ultimate power over Him, and because He gives spiritual life to those that believe in Him, they too partake in His victory over death.

This is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life.18

Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.19

When we die, we are called out of this earthly life, our outer person dies; but our spirit, our inner person, continues to live eternally. In addition, we will once again be reunited with our renewed physical body at the time of the resurrection.

Death was brought about due to sin.

Therefore just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.20

Desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.21

The wages of sin is death.22 

Physical death, which brings physical life to an end and separates people from the ones they love, reflects the spiritual death which occurs when people are separated from God because of sin.

However, since Jesus bore our sins as He suffered and died on the cross, and then overcame death by His resurrection, death has been defeated. Because we are united in Him, we too will be raised to live eternally with Him.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.23

It’s hard to imagine any power greater than raising the dead—the power to bring back the spirit of the departed and reunite it with the body. Yet this is exactly what will happen to Christians when Jesus triumphantly returns.

We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.24

The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.25

We will rise, because He has risen! This is what we celebrate every Easter. He is the resurrection and the life, and if we believe in Him, even if we die, we will live and we will never die.

1 For the context of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead see Jesus—His Life and Message: Miracles: Raising the Dead, Part Three and Part Four.

2 John 11:25–26.

3 John 6:35.

4 John 8:12.

5 Luke 7:11–15.

6 Luke 8:49–56.

7 Romans 1:4.

8 1 Corinthians 15:20.

9 Ephesians 2:1–2.

10 Ephesians 2:4–6.

11 Colossians 2:13 NIV.

12 John 6:40.

13 John 5:26.

14 John 5:19, 21.

15 John 1:4.

16 John 6:33.

17 John 10:28.

18 1 John 5:11–12.

19 John 11:25–26.

20 Romans 5:12.

21 James 1:15.

22 Romans 6:23.

23 John 6:37–39.

24 1 Corinthians 15:51–52.

25 1 Thessalonians 4:16–18.