Jesus previously spoke of the resurrection as an event that would take place on “the last day” (6:39-40, 44, 54; cf. 12:48). He now affirms, with his fifth “I am + predicate” pronouncement, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
In John 5, Jesus said that he has the divine power to raise and judge the dead (5:21-24), and in John 6, he repeatedly affirmed that he will resurrect those who believe in him (6:40, 44) and eat his Eucharistic flesh (6:54).
Jesus now elaborates on his identity as the resurrection and the life, speaking in both physical/literal and spiritual/figural senses. Jesus first says “whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.” Believers in Jesus will die physically, but on account of their faith and relationship with Christ, they will continue to live spiritually. Jesus gives the gift of eternal, eschatological life to those who receive him with faith and discipleship. This gift of Jesus continues to vivify believers beyond bodily death.
He makes a second, similar claim, “everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Those who are physically alive and believe in Jesus will be delivered from spiritual death. Jesus does not deny the general resurrection of the dead, for he is the one who will raise and judge the dead on the last day (cf. 5:27-29). But these final, eschatological realities are spiritually linked to the decisions that people make in the present. By identifying himself as “the resurrection and the life,” Jesus establishes the raising of Lazarus as the sign which demonstrates these truths about himself and his divine power.