Will We Ever Die?

When Jesus perceived that his friend, Lazarus, had died, he journeyed to Judea to comfort that man’s sisters, Martha and Mary. These women had hoped that Jesus would come earlier, in order to heal their brother of his illness, and save him from death. Martha was the first to voice this hope, but Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

Martha answered, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." This, in its self, was a great trust on her part. 

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" Martha’s answer appears to be an equivocation. She was faced with a reality, the certain death of her brother, and the beginning of his bodily corruption.

But, what did Jesus mean, when He said to her, “....everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die?” He certainly did not mean that they would not die, physically, because this event is “appointed” to all of us (Hebrews 9:27). Jesus did not mean that we would not die, spiritually, because sin leads to spiritual death (James 1:13-15), and everyone sins (Romans 3:23).

So, what did He hope to convey to us, when he said that those who lived and believed in Him would never die? The answer is in His first response to the despair of Martha, “...he who believes in Me will live, even if he dies.” By this, he assures us that physical death is merely a transition from physical life to eternal life for the believer. Even before we die, we can claim possession of eternal life. In the gospel of John, the Holy Spirit says, "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). Belief and obedience are tied together in this proclamation. They are the conditions by which we may claim to have entered into eternal life.

To confirm to Martha and Mary, to their mourning friends, and to us, that He truly is “the resurrection and the life,” Jesus called to Lazarus to come forth from the grave, to have his flesh renewed and his physical life extended. After this, the physical life of Lazarus was threatened, along with that of Jesus, by the jealous and vicious enmity of unbelievers (John 12:9-11).

The agony of the death of Jesus on the cross paled in the brilliant light of His glorious, angel-announced resurrection. Lazarus had to die again, physically, and his final resurrection must wait till the day determined in the mind of God. Yet, both Jesus and Lazarus receive the fulfillment of the promise of God. Jesus lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25), and Lazarus lives in spiritual comfort among all other believers in the Paradise of God (Luke 16:22-25).

In trust that this is also our destiny, we should live in faith and obedience, in order to share in the eternal life provided through Jesus, “the resurrection and the life.”