JOHN 11:25-26

"I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"

These words were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ to Martha, and they undoubtedly have a great significance. It shall be our purpose, God being our helper, to present at least a portion of their meaning. We wish our readers would turn to and read the eleventh chapter of John. The account given here concerns Jesus, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. It is quite evident to us that they were much more than good friends, for when Jesus asked, "Where have ye laid him (Lazarus)? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept." John 11:34-35. Is it any wonder that the Jews should have said, "Behold how he loved him!" We have heard of brethren presenting the idea that the death of Lazarus and his being raised from the dead typified the resurrection of the Lord's people on the "General Resurrection Day." We would like to suggest here, in our humble opinion at least, that Lazarus was a type of the Gospel Ministry; Martha was a type of the Church under the law, and Mary was a type of the Gospel Church under the dispensation of Grace. When word first came to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, he said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." He later said, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep." Apparently, they did not understand Jesus, and he finally said unto them plainly, "Lazarus is dead." When Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, we are told that he "came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go." The true gospel minister must be as dead to the law and the things of the legal dispensation, as one who had been dead four days and laid in the grave, if he is to preach the gospel in its purity, and we believe that all ministers who are called and qualified by God can testify to this death. When they are brought forth, however, by the mighty power of God, and the gift to preach is made known unto the Church, she is to acknowledge that gift by loosing him, or ordaining him to the full work of the gospel ministry, in order that he may be free to go wheresoever God in his providence may open a door and direct him. Otherwise he is not free to perform, properly, the ordinances of God's house.

Martha, as we have said, was a type of the church under the law. She could not understand fully the ordinances of God's house under Grace. We are told by Luke (10:40) that "Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, (Jesus) and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister (Mary) hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." But Jesus answered and said unto her, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Martha, therefore, had to be instructed more perfectly in the things pertaining to the gospel church, and this was what Jesus was doing in the words of our text. She had just been saying, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Jesus then said unto her, "Thy brother shall rise again." Martha replied, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." She, apparently, had a very similar idea to that held by many today, and they need to be taught as she was taught and by the same Teacher, the way of God more perfectly. Jesus, therefore, said unto her, "I am the resurrection, and the Life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." And then Jesus added, "Believest thou this?" We would to God that all of his people might believe this in deed and in truth, and, perhaps, then there would be no confusion, for they would then be seeing eye to eye and would no doubt speak the same things. But we are persuaded that it is not God's purpose that we should all be seeing alike on this point, any more than it is His purpose that we should agree on everything else. We honestly believe that as long as we live here in the flesh there will be things to bring forth the graces of his blessed Spirit, such as longsuffering one toward another, forgiveness, meekness, humility, charity, etc., that patience might have her perfect work. It is in this way, we believe, that we are to see God manifested in the flesh, through the kindness and tender mercy of the brethren toward each other. There are those Marys, however, who have ceased from their labors and have entered into the house, or gospel church, and are sitting at the feet of their Lord and Master, enjoying and delighting in the work of redemption which he has finished in every sense of the word. They really believe with all their hearts and souls that Jesus is their resurrection and their life, and they are fully persuaded that whosoever liveth and believeth in him shall never die. Having part with Him, who is the first resurrection, they are convinced beyond the peradventure of a doubt that all of their adversaries and even the second death can have no power over them. We do not understand that Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead in a literal sense, for there were others and he himself raised Lazarus from the dead, but Jesus was the first to keep the law in every jot and title and to rise from its condemnation and death, for having satisfied the demands of the law he could not be holden of death, which was its penalty, and since he did all of this for his people they stand complete in him. With faith to believe this, they need fear no evil, for no lasting harm can befall them. Even the last monster, DEATH, which some so much dread, shall but prove the opening of the portals through which they shall pass out of this world of sin and sorrow into the fullness of that which no eye hath seen, nor ear heard, and neither hath it entered into the heart of man, but is prepared for those that love him. They shall bid adieu to this vain world and find entrance into their eternal home, where undivided praise shall be rendered, world without end, to Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The Poet must have had a glimpse of this when he wrote the words which comprise Hymn No. 1256, in the Beebe Collection:

"It is not death to die -
    To leave this weary road,
And, 'midst the brotherhood on high,
    To be at home with God.

It is not death to close
    The eye long dimmed by tears,
And wake in glorious repose,
    To spend eternal years.

It is not death to bear
    The wrench that sets us free
From dungeon chain, to breathe the air
    Of boundless liberty.

It is not death to fling
    Aside the sinful dust,
And rise, on strong, exulting wing,
    To live among the just.

Jesus, thou Prince of Life!
    Thy chosen cannot die;
Like thee, they conquer in the strife
    To reign with thee on high."

R. Lester Dodson
The Resurrection of the Dead
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