And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die (John 11:26).
These words of our sovereign Lord just prior to His raising Lazarus seem to be untrue. We attend funeral services of believers, see their dead bodies in coffins, and witness the coffins prior to their being lowered into the earth. How could Jesus say never die?
When a person has an arm or a leg amputated, the appendage dies, but the person lives on. Does something live on in the case of the believer when the whole body is amputated? The answer is emphatically, yes! The Lord taught us not to fear them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). If the believers soul goes immediately to be with Jesus when he leaves his body (and this is the clear teaching of Scripture, e.g., Luke 23:43 and II Corinthians 5:110), can we truthfully describe him as being dead? He is not dead! He is with Life Himself! God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:32). Yes, temporarily the believer is without a body, but even this will be remedied when the Lord returns and the souls of His people are joined to resurrected bodies made incorruptible (I Corinthians 15:52). The believer never dieseven as the Truth Himself (John 14:6) affirmed.
After speaking the words of our text, Jesus asked, Believest thou this? We all would do well to believe our Maker. He made us. He knows death by experience. He conquered death and ever lives. Our only hope for life beyond the prospects of bodily separation is Jesus. He alone knows the full truth about life and death.
The next time we are tempted to describe a departed believer as being dead, we may want to remember these words of Jesus and apply them to the situation. PGH