In studying the I AM statements of Jesus, I couldn’t help myself but share a little more on the fifth statement:
I am the resurrection and the life.
John 11 is so packed with goodness, we can’t just study Lazarus and move on. In fact, if we back up to the beginning of the chapter we will see that John 11 is all about faith, and Jesus is all about one word: believe. It’s mentioned eight times in this one chapter! At the end of the story, and through the miracle of Laz’s resurrection, it’s clear that Jesus was calling many of the lost to believe in Him.
But upon closer inspection, before He even got to Bethany to do the miracle, in John 11:15, Jesus says that the death of Lazarus was allowed so that they would believe. And we know many did believe. But He was saying this to His disciples, the people who already believed! What was Jesus up to?
What the disciples demonstrated for us is that this faith of ours is progressive in nature. They believed, but just what they believed at the beginning of their journey with Jesus was no doubt very different from what they believed at the end. As they walked further and longer with The Master, each time He revealed Himself to them in a new way (John 11 included) their faith would come to a crossroads and potentially a crisis. Would they believe? For His most intimate circle, most of the time they did, and their faith propelled them forward into the next adventure with Jesus. Bringing them to a crossroads was risky, however, in that some would find they could go no further and would fall away, but there was just no other way to grow their faith. Sometimes, arriving at a crossroads resulted in crisis. Faith seemed to fail for a time, belief seemed lost foratime, but another crossroads would appear with another opportunity to believe. Just ask Peter.
Jesus is still in the business of growing the faith of His followers, to keep us believing, for our faith is meant to progress even if by the minutest of degrees. By revealing more and more of Himself to us, He brings our faith to a crossroads. He may use His Word, prayer, worship, fellowship, especially circumstances, to expose fresh insights about His person, His purposes in the world, and His plans for us. When we believe, we are propelled forward with our Master, our faith is a little stronger, and we are rightly positioned and prepped for whatever is coming next.
And what is coming next might just be a miracle.
Wherever our faith is right now, Jesus wants to stretch it, strengthen it, and sink it so deeply within us that it becomes unshakeable. As He reveals more and more of Himself to us, and as circumstances perplex or discourage, we will come again and again to a crossroads of belief. Have you been there? Often when I am at a crossroads, instead of moving forward in faith, I walk in circles, afraid to let Jesus take me in a new direction, not believing that I am truly safe in following His lead.
Remember Peter? All may have seemed lost to him when that rooster crowed, but even if a crossroads brings a crisis, our faith, however meager it may seem, is not beyond the tender reach of Jesus. He continues to invite us to believe, crossroads after crossroads, even when the only prayer we can possibly pray sounds something like this: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Back in John 11, it appeared that Jesus was preaching to the choir, but He may in fact have been on a mission to grow the fledgling faith of those dearest to Him. Indeed, when the Resurrection and the Life brought His little band of believers to the crossroads of darkness and death, crisis seemed the order of the day...for a time. Ultimately, the faith of His friends would never be quite the same. And that was His plan from the very beginning.