How Was the Resurrection of Lazarus Different than the Resurrection of Jesus?

A Resurrection unto Eternal Life

When Jesus makes the claim, “I am the resurrection and the life,” his friend Lazarus is in the tomb, and he’s speaking to Lazarus’s grieving sister. And when he makes this claim, he says something that doesn’t quite make sense.

He says, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

Behold and Believe

Courtney Doctor, Joanna Kimbrel

This 7-week Bible study from the Gospel Coalition explores the question Who is Jesus? by walking through his 7 “I am” statements in the Gospel of John.

It doesn’t quite make sense because there’s never been a resurrection to eternal life—until Jesus is raised. And so when he raises Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus was really dead—four days dead at this point—and he came physically alive again out of the tomb, out of his grave clothes.

And when Christ was crucified and resurrected, he also was really dead—several days dead—and came out of the tomb and out of his grave clothes. But the difference is that Jesus’s resurrection was unto eternal life.

Lazarus would die again, but Jesus would not. And for all who trust in Christ, who are united to him by faith, what is his is now ours. So that means that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is effective for us. If we trust in him, though we die, yet shall we live. The resurrection of Jesus Christ means the resurrection of all who trust in him, and it is a resurrection to eternal life.

Joanna Kimbrel is coauthor with Courtney Doctor of Behold and Believe: A Bible Study on the “I Am” Statements of Jesus.

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