There is a consistent paradox in the messaging of death and life throughout Scripture. Death, in one way, is inevitable. Physically, all will die. In a different way, death is an avoidable condition of the human soul. Jesus is the resolution of the paradox; He brings life after death (in the first sense) AND life in the place of death (in the latter sense).
This statement is made to the relatives of Lazarus, just after Lazarus had died and prior to Jesus raising him from the dead. They are wrestling with this paradox of death and life.
Jesus’ answer to them addresses both parts of the paradox. First, “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die”. Those who believe in Jesus will live again, though they die. They will be resurrected. Second, “Whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” In this instance, Jesus’ resurrected life becomes one with our own soul, our own life, birthing us anew, and giving us a new spiritual existence that will never end.
When we use the phrase “a matter of life and death”, we often infer it is an issue that will result in either continued existence or an end to existence. Jesus transcends both; although we expect to physically die, He overcomes death by turning it from an end of existence to a transition into a new manifestation of what it means to be alive – an eternal one. But we don’t have to wait until we die to live a transformed life. That is available now through the power of walking by faith.
Jesus is life. Before, during, and after our physical death. He is there to believe in while we are on this earth, transforming what might otherwise be a dead existence into a living one. And He is there after we physically die, welcoming us into a fuller manifestation of eternity. The key to both is faith: to “believe” (to be born again) then to live a life “believing” to experience the newness of an awakened life.