Followers of Jesus, not just the twelve, lived with a pro-death-anti-resurrection bias.
This bias showed itself after the death of Lazarus. Remember, the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, had sent a message to Jesus telling him their brother was “very sick” (John 11:3). They likely expected Jesus to immediately travel to their home and heal Lazarus. Instead, he “stayed where he was for the next two days” and let Lazarus die (John 11:6). This he did so the disciples would have a chance to “really believe” (John 11:14).
But what did he want them to “really believe?” They already believed he could heal the sick. They had also seen him raise the widow of Nain’s dead son and the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus, a synagogue official in Capernaum. But they clearly did not grasp the Lord’s resurrection power. The young girl had died as he was walking to her home. Since she had only been dead a short time, her body may have still been warm. The widow’s son must have recently died too since he had not been buried. I wonder if some of the disciples thought Jesus resuscitated those two? We don’t know. But we do know Lazarus had been dead at least four days, possibly longer. He had been dead long enough that Martha discouraged Jesus from having the stone removed from the mouth of the tomb because “by this time there is a bad odor” (John 11:39).
As Jesus approached Bethany, Martha met him and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:22).
“Jesus told Martha, ‘Your brother will rise again’” (John 11:23).
“’Yes,’ Martha said, ‘he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day’” (John 11:24). Like most of us, Martha saw the resurrection as ONLY a future event not a present reality. This lie Jesus corrected: “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die” (John 11:25-26).
We must latch onto the truth that Jesus IS the resurrection and the life. Those who have Jesus have his resurrection life now. Yes, all believers will be raised in the future. But his resurrection life isn’t something to be experienced only in the future. It’s to be experienced every moment of our lives. His resurrection life, which we possess, guarantees there is not a disappointment or pain we face that he cannot breathe life into, IF we trust him to do so. As we believe, and see him resurrect a dream, a relationship, an opportunity, or a loss, we too will learn to “really believe.”