Summary: Our viewpoint of death is a stark contrast to God's viewpoint.
Since I have retired I have developed a new hobby. It is called sleeping. I love to sleep. After 34 years of averaging 6 hours sleep a night it is nice to now get 8 or more. In fact I have to set the alarm or I would probably sleep the entire day away. There is an old saying “I fell dead asleep.” Today we will see that is not far from wrong.
Jesus has bodily claimed to be the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Gate, and the Good Shepherd. These claims have almost resulted in him being stoned to death twice. He left the pastures and went to the Jordan where John had been baptizing.
While He was there He received word that his friend Lazarus had fallen deathly ill. The disciples waited for him to leave but Jesus said “This illness will not lead to death but rather so that I will be glorified through it.”
Two days later Jesus decided to head to Judea to visit Lazarus. Fearing for his death, the disciples were against the trip. Jesus said “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” They did not realize that Lazarus had died.
When they arrived in Bethany, they discovered that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. His sister, Martha, met Jesus and said “You are too late.” Jesus told her that her brother would rise again. She agreed on the last day that the world would exist he would indeed rise up.
John 11:25-26 “Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
Again using the Hebrew name for God, Jesus states that He and He alone has the power to rise from death to life. The word “resurrection” meant to go from a prone position to a standing position. He further states that He is the sustainer of life. Only through Jesus is eternal life offered. There is a promise made that all who believe in him will live even after death. In fact if they look to him as that sustaining life force they will never, ever die. This time of year can be a bit depressing. We seem to miss our loved ones who have departed this world even more. I lost a brother when I was 17. He was only 24, a father of two small children. He died from a brain tumor. I know he was a Christian.
His death devastated my dad. He lost a lot of his motivation. He could no longer continue living in the area. So we moved 500 miles away. I was uprooted in my junior year in high school and lived a rather lonely life as a teenager. I blamed God, or at least what I understood God to be. So how could Jesus make such a statement that those “who believe in me will never die.”?
The problem is not in trying to understand Jesus and his statement. The problem is understanding death through his view point. To understand his claim to be the resurrection and the life, we must first understand death. And to understand death we must have a lesson in Greek.
There are three words that are associated with death or dying. The first word is “apothnesko” It meant to die a mortal death. We find this word used in Romans 5:6 “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.”
He died the death of a mortal. It was a physical death. He literally died. I googled “What is death?” and found there were 2 trillion 810 million sites where I could go and have this question answered. The most plausible answer is death occurs when the ability to live ends. His ability to live ended due to massive amounts of blood loss, dehydration, and the inability to breathe.
The Bible makes it clear that He died a mortal death for us while we were still sinners. He died a mortal death for us to break the power of sin. He died a mortal death and was resurrected.
The next word associated with death was “koimao”. It meant to fall asleep. We find this word used in Acts 12:6 “The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate.”
It is obvious that Peter is not dead as he is fastened with two chains between two soldiers while being guarded. If he were a dead body there would be no need for such security. This same word is used when Jesus is asleep on the boat during the storm that frightened the disciples.