Jesus Vaccine and Death

11. Jesus, Vaccine and Death

We have recently ‘attended’ the on-line funerals of two friends.

Gerry was a vibrant, outgoing, lovely, joy-giving lady much loved by teachers, staff, and pupils of the school where Mary taught. The classic Catholic funeral Mass was ordered, reverent, with moving meditative songs, a fine female soloist, and fitting tributes from family and former colleagues.   It was maybe a tad tentative about gospel-truth, slightly hesitant about hope.  For all that, the service honoured God and honoured Gerry.


Maurice was one of the loveliest men I’ve met, as strong and gentle as the lambs he saw born each year as the shepherd and farm manager he was.

After suffering from Parkinson’s and dementia, and even Covid, he eventually died in his care home.  He was cherished by the members of the Evangelical Church where he and his wife Angela were members.  Maurice’s family gave heartfelt tributes to him.  Pastor Pete led the service in a calm, warm, and firm way, gently affirming strong Scriptural convictions and gospel-promised hope.  Starting from Psalm 23, our hearts and minds were taken to Jesus, the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep.   


No doubt the pandemic has heightened the sense of our mortality.

Reflecting on this led me to Jesus and to John 11:25-26:

Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus makes astonishing statements about whoever who believes in him.

Three phrases stand out:

“though he die…”      

“yet shall he live…”   

 “shall never die…”

How so?  How do we absorb these seemingly paradoxical words?

Here, in advance, is my conclusion, true of every believer in Jesus.

We have no immunity from dying but Jesus is the ultimate vaccine against Death.

Firstly, “though he die” acknowledges that we all have to die – even Lazarus, once brought back from the dead, would eventually die again!  Jesus never minimised the pain of dying nor the offence of death.  He wept for his own loss at the tomb of beloved friend Lazarus.  He was deeply disturbed in spirit by the grief searing the hearts of Mary and Martha

and the friends of the family and it roused him to a pitch of anger at the affront of death

(John 11:33,35).


But his “though he die” is immediately countered by his “yet shall he live”!

Jesus says this to us because he is the Resurrection and the Life.

As a result, even though we die we shall not experience Death as the final judgment and condemnation of our sinful rebellion against God - what John calls ‘the second death’ (Revelation 20:6,14).  

‘Death’ as a malign power or ruler no longer has dominion over Him or over us.  

Jesus died but ‘Death’ could not hold him or keep its grip on him (Acts 2:24).   

‘We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him’ (Romans 6:9).

And because he is the Resurrection and the Life, he can assure us who believe in him that ‘Death’ will not hold us in its grip either.  In this sense we shall ‘not see death’ (John 8:51).

So of those who die in faith in Jesus, he promises “yet shall he live...”

Because He is the Resurrection and the Life, we know that nothing can separate us – not even death – from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:38).


Death, as our final enemy, has been defeated and one day there will be no more dying and no more tears of bereavement (1 Corinthians 15: Revelation 21:14).

So Jesus promises: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

(John 6:40)


And here is the second, wonderful aspect of this good news.

“yet shall he live… and never die”

Jesus is the Resurrection and on the last day he will raise us up in a new embodied existence in God renewed creation.

And because Jesus is the Life he gives us now “eternal life”, his own deathless, indestructible life (John 3:16; Hebrews 7:16).

Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to us so that his life becomes a reality in ours, now

and as a down-payment on the future resurrection (John 6:63; Romans 8:11;

1 Corinthians 15:42-45).


What Jesus says to Martha – in the words of my own esteemed teacher,

Professor George Beasley-Murray – “is an assurance of resurrection to the kingdom of God in its consummation through him who is the Resurrection, and of life in the kingdom of God in the present time through him who is the Life.”


Let’s rejoice to declare once more:

Since Jesus is the Resurrection, even though we die yet shall we lie.

Since Jesus is the Life, whoever believes in him will never die.


This was the hope that Gerry and Maurice held before them in facing death and this was the faith that sustained them to make life worth living.

May it be so for us all this blessed Eastertime.