Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live – John 11:25
Meaning of John 11:25
The meaning of the verse, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life”, is that anyone who places their belief in Jesus can have eternal life even after their death. Jesus, in this verse, calls himself the resurrection and the life, which means that to know Jesus is to have an afterlife with Him. Resurrection is waking up from the dead, and “life” here means that a person will be alive or have a new life once they are resurrected. The next part of the verse, “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” reiterates the first part of the verse that only believers or Christians are given that opportunity. In other words, a believer does not have to worry about his eternal fate after death as they will live in paradise with Jesus.
Interpretations of John 11:25
The verse of John 11:25 is widely used in churches when the message of salvation is being preached. It is also easy to misinterpret the verse in many ways. Here are a few examples.
Interpretation #1 Christians can bring the dead back to life
In this interpretation of the verse, “I am the resurrection, and the life” Christians believe that they have the power to bring back a dead person to life. A reader, who may or may not be a Christian can assume that the “I Am” statement is meant for them. Hence, they hold the authority to heal and forgive, leading them to do impossible acts. The reader also believes that he/she has the power and capability to resurrect someone from death. For example, when they visit a dead person in the hospital, they claim to bring them back to life through those special powers gifted by God. This also defies every claim science has made against immortality and death and also priests who perform miracles.
Interpretation #2 Believing in Jesus also assures immortal bodies
A person who believes in Jesus might possess the superpower to grant immortal bodies. In this interpretation, the reader is afraid of ageing and does not believe in the cycle of life and death. Ageism is a fear residing in every person as it brings health issues, looking old and nearing death. Hence in the part of the verse “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” the reader believes to gain that ultimate gift of not only good health but also eternal body. However, here the reader also fails to understand the afterlife.
Interpretation #3 A Christian doesn’t need a doctor
In this interpretation, the reader assumes that by believing in God, he/she doesn’t need medical attention when they are ill. They take the following part of the verse “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” as a healing confession. While this is also medically dangerous, a few Christians who believe it, do not go to the hospital. He or she also strictly believes in Jesus’ power of resurrection and healing. Additionally, they approach prayer or seek a priest to plead to Jesus for a cure for themselves or their loved ones. Denominations like Pentecost strictly adhere to this belief, as going to a doctor is against their principles. As times changed, most believers moved away from this belief.
Interpretation #4 A person can hope to see their loved ones after death
In this part of the verse, “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”, the reader combines the concepts of witchcraft and Christianity. The reader, who is not a Christian tries to connect with the spirit guides or perform rituals such as séance to connect with the deceased or speak with them through a medium. This could lead them to connect witchcraft while still quoting this verse from the Bible and alluding to Christianity. As Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, which he promises to Martha while saying this verse, the reader strongly believes that when they pray hard enough, it is likely that Jesus will resurrect the dead. In a similar interpretation, the reader knows that they cannot bring the dead back from the grave, and believe that through prayers they can be joined with their loved ones.
Interpretation #5 One who believes in Jesus will have an eternal afterlife
The final interpretation of the verse, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”, is that a believer can be certain to have an eternal afterlife after death if they follow Jesus. The gospels in New Testament narrate Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection at length, and those two events are meant to be parallel to a believer’s life. It is taught in almost all denominations of Christianity that one who believes in Jesus will get to live in Paradise or Heaven with God after death. Also, this can be called the core belief in Christianity. The man Lazarus, who was also Jesus’ friend, is an example because Jesus speaks this verse before he calls him out of the tomb after he had been dead for four days. While very few Christians take the verse as a physical resurrection, as they read through further chapters, it becomes clear that this act was done by Jesus before his crucifixion. He encourages His believers to have hope and the promise of the afterlife with Him.
Historical background of John 11:25
The entire chapter of John 11 is a miracle story of Lazarus’ death and Jesus resurrecting him after four days. The death of Lazarus was meant to be symbolic of Jesus’ own crucifixion and resurrection. The author of the book containing this chapter is John, also known as the disciple whom Jesus loved. The verse 25th is about Jesus stating that He is the resurrection and life, implying that knowing Him is equivalent to both. He also stated that a Christian would have a life after death as a source of relief for Martha, Lazarus’ sister.
Literary Devices of John 11:25
Metaphor – In this verse, Jesus compares himself with two things. For example, resurrection, which means coming back from death and life. Hence, I am the resurrection and the life: is a metaphor for Jesus.
Assonance – This verse has a rich use of vowels. For example, the sound of /i/ in ‘he that believeth in me’ and the sound of /e/ though he were dead, yet shall he live.
Foreshadow – In this verse, Jesus is speaking to Martha to bring her dead brother, Lazarus, back. The verse is a good example of foreshadowing Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection as he promises His disciples to come back on the 3rd day.
Hyperbole – Here, Jesus says even if the person is dead, he or she is alive which is scientifically not possible. So, He is exaggerating death and the afterlife.
Alliteration – This verse has a rich use of consonant sounds, however, they do not follow immediately. For example, the sound of /th/ in ‘I am the resurrection’ and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead.