The Expository Files

“Do You Believe This?”

John 11:25,26

In Jn. 11:25,26 Jesus made an amazing statement, then He followed it by asking a very simple and direct question.

Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died just a few days before. Four days after His friends’ burial, Jesus went to the cemetery and was met by Lazarus’ sister, Martha. Martha said to Jesus the very same words that her sister Mary would come up and say a few minutes later, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (vs. 21 & 32) They must have been strengthening each other’s faith in the days since their brother’s death. Some lose their faith in such times of grief, but these good sisters did not.

Jesus then spoke to Martha about the resurrection of her brother. Martha interjected with a statement revealing her faith in the great resurrection at the last day. (vs. 24) Jesus not only told her that there was going to be a resurrection, Jesus Himself was that resurrection. “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (vss. 25,26)

What an incredible statement. Here was a man standing before Martha telling her that He was the resurrection of life, and that if anyone would believe in Him they would live forever. Would this cause Martha to doubt? Wasn’t Lazarus a believer, a disciple, of Jesus? And just where was it that Martha was having this conversation about life and death? Wasn’t it in a cemetery near the fresh grave of her beloved brother? Many lose their faith in just such a scene as this.

So even though Martha had first told Jesus that she was sure Jesus could have healed her brother had he arrived before his death (vs. 21) showing her belief in His power and goodness, and she had affirmed her belief that her brother would rise again in the general resurrection (vs. 24), Jesus asked her a direct question of faith.

In vs. 26 Jesus asked Martha “Do you believe this?” How should Martha respond? Should she get mad that anyone dared ask her about her beliefs? That’s a very personal question isn’t it? Or should she be aghast that Jesus would talk about life and death here at the graveyard so near the fresh grave of her brother? Wouldn’t it be more sensitive to broach this subject at another time? Martha instead made a great confession in the divinity and position of Jesus. “She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.’” (vs. 27)

Martha didn’t just say that she believed in a Christ, but the Jesus, the one standing before her, was the one. She was asked if she believed Jesus was the resurrection and the life, she responded by saying that Jesus was the Christ. She rightly realized that these were the same questions.

Since Jesus is the Christ, He is the source of eternal life. If we believe in Him with the confidence that Martha did (a confidence that you can take with you to the graveyard), you can be as calm and assured in the goodness, grace and power of Jesus as she was. And you can have eternal life.

Martha made her great confession in Jesus just before He raised her brother from his early grave. She believed and her faith was quickly vindicated. If we believe in the same way that she did we don’t expect to so quickly leave the cemetery in triumph. But the power that Jesus demonstrated in Bethany assures us that one day (that last great day) we can leave the cemetery just as surely as Lazarus did when Jesus says, “Come forth” to all the faithful.

Do you believe this? The best approach to the study of Second Corinthians five is by way of the first four chapters of the epistle.

There is one phrase in Second Corinthians chapter one that may well set the tone for much of what Paul discusses in these early chapters. Consider this phrase: “…the sufferings of Christ abound in us,” (2 Cor. 1:5). Paul describes the suffering he and his companions endured as they lived and preached the gospel of Christ. He uses words like “tribulation, trouble, afflictions, burdened, sorrow, anguish” and “many tears.” These apostles of Christ endured the hardships He said they would experience (Jno. 15:18-25).

By Jay Horsley
From Expository Files 11.2; February, 2004