Week 12 John 12:12-50: The Raising of Lazarus Leads to Public Acclaim
John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Introduction: We learn from Chapter 12 that God is in control and directs every event surrounding Jesus and his mission.
- The timing of Lazarus’ death and raising was placed close to the Jewish celebration of Passover, because that is the moment God chose in order to coincide with Old Testament prophecy and motif concerning the sacrificial lamb.
- The raising of Lazarus directly contributed to the enthusiasm of the crowds that greeted Jesus as he entered Jerusalem for the Passover Feast.
- Consequently, the triumphal entry forced the Pharisees’ hand to arrest and kill Jesus, not because they wanted to do so while everyone was watching, but because God had decreed in ages past that Jesus the Christ was the eternal Lamb to be slain, and symbolism required that this happen on Passover. They killed him because of jealousy and fear for their own “exalted” positions.
- Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection were designed by God, and the crucifixion was completely voluntary on Jesus’ part. God used the Pharisees’ own hardness of heart towards His own end of salvation for all humankind.
I. John 12:12-19 The Triumphal Entry
A. The raising of Lazarus flows right into the triumphal entry
1. The miracle caused such a stir among the people that the religious leaders had decided to arrest and kill him. John 11:45-57
2. Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, very close to Jerusalem, where the family of Lazarus gave a dinner, (John 12:1-8) and a large crowd of people gathered to catch a glimpse of Jesus and of Lazarus.
3. The next day, Jesus and his disciples joined a great crowd on their way to Jerusalem for the Feast. Part of the crowd accompanied him from Bethany, and part came out from Jerusalem when they heard that he was on his way. The people from Bethany testified and spread the word about the miracle they had witnessed when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after four days. John 12:17-19
4. As Jesus entered the city sitting on a donkey’s young colt, the crowd welcomed him with palm branches. These represent rejoicing and triumph. John 12:13-15
B. The triumphal entry causes the Pharisees to become even more excited in opposition to Jesus than they had been before.
C. The disciples did not see or understand the connection between the events of what we now call “Palm Sunday” and the Old Testament prophetic Scriptures. They only came to understand these events after Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension into glory. John 12:16
ESV John 12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
LXE Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. 23 This has been done of the Lord; and it is wonderful in our eyes. 24 This is the day which the Lord has made: let us exult and rejoice in it. 25 O Lord, save now: O Lord, send now prosperity. [verse 25 is encompassed in the single word, “Hosanna!”] 26 Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord. 27 God is the Lord, and he has shined upon us: celebrate the feast with thick branches, binding the victims even to the horns of the altar.
ESV John 12:15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
ESV Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
D. By entering Jerusalem this way, Jesus was openly and boldly announcing that he was indeed the long-awaited Messiah, Israel’s King.
II. John 12:20-36 Jesus’ Discourse Prompted by the Greeks’ Request
A. Some Greeks ask Philip if they can meet with Jesus. John 12:20-22
1. These Greeks are God-fearing Gentiles who regularly worship among the Jewish people. (Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 193)
2. Jesus fully explains his mission of salvation for the entire world. Philip and Andrew, whom Philip had consulted, then relay his words to the Greeks.
B. Jesus responds to the Greeks. John 12:23-33
1. The setting: Jesus has just passed through the Mount of Olives, the later scene of Jesus’ Gethsemane prayers just before his crucifixion, into Jerusalem in a triumphal procession that had begun in Bethany, the village of Lazarus and his sisters. As the city first comes into his view, Jesus pauses and weeps over it tenderly and with love and affection, for he knows of the coming catastrophe of destructive judgment which will befall it in 70 A.D.
Luke 19:41-44 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
2. Jesus also knew that he himself was about to be painfully crucified. In answer to the Greeks’ request to see him, he begins speaking about his impending death:
a. as concerns himself
John 12:23-24 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
• the fruit of which Jesus speaks includes all Gentiles from out of the whole world, as represented by the Greeks. They are part of the offspring prophesied by Isaiah.
Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Isaiah 54:1 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD. 2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. 3 For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.
Galatians 4:26 [the Apostle Paul addressing Gentile believers in Christ in Galatia, citing Isaiah 54:1-3] But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” 28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise.
• in order to bear this fruit, Jesus knows that he must die.
b. as concerns all of his present and future disciples (the Greeks, you, me)
John 12:25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
c. Jesus’ sacrifice is voluntary and according to the predetermined will of God. See Isaiah 53:10 and 54:1-3 above and vss 27-28 below.
John 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
3. immediate confirmation of Jesus’ words from God the Father
John 28b-30 …Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.
4. Jesus summarizes and proclaims in four parts the purpose and effect of his crucifixion.
John 12:31-32 a) Now is the judgment of this world; b) now will the ruler of this world be cast out. c) 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, d) will draw all people to myself.”
a. “This world” (the Jewish religious leaders who reject and condemn their Messiah King to death, Judas who later betrays Christ, the Roman governor Pilot who sentences him, the Roman soldiers who beat and scorn him, and all men of all men of all societies everywhere who reject him, the entire world system ruled by evil) is judged and condemned by God for the action of rejecting and killing his beloved Son.
b. “The ruler of this world” is Satan. (Revelation 12:3; Luke 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2, 6:12) By means of the cross (c above) he loses his power grip of death over the world and the nations, as Christ’s resurrection and ascension into glory open a pathway and invitation by God to all men everywhere to be reunited with Him in peace and love.
c. “Lifted up from the earth” is the biblical way of naming death by crucifixion. Jesus is describing the means of his death.
d. “Will draw all people to myself” is the result. Jesus is the actor who does the drawing. “All people” refers to people from every time, nation, ethnicity, and cultural group. None are excluded who wish to be included. The coming of the Gentile Greeks to seek to see Jesus are representative of all those who will be drawn to Christ.
III. Jesus as Son of Man and the Crowd’s Skeptical Response John 12:34-36
A. Most likely, from what the crowd knew of the Law and the entire Old Testament, they expected the Christ to remain forever.
John 12:34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”
Daniel 7:13 “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
2. Paraphrase: What does Messiah/Son of Man have to do with crucifixion? What crucifixion?
B. Jesus as Son of Man
1. Hendriksen points out that Jesus’ designation of himself as “Son of Man” most likely is a reference to the above verses from Daniel and the fact that Jesus is transcendent by nature, being God the Son who descended from heaven in his incarnation (Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 206-207)
2. Because Jesus is man, he is connected to the entire human race. As God himself, he is Son of God and Son of Man.
3. As a man, he partakes of the suffering of all humankind, and as the Son of Man, who is the perfect sacrifice for sin, he also partakes of his own extreme sorrow.
a. suffering as God suffering over mankind
b. suffering on the cross as the sacrifice for sin, bearing the full weight of God’s wrath against sinful humanity on his own shoulders.
C. Jesus responds to the crowd’s skepticism by telling them what they must do.
John 12:35-36a So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”…
1. It is only a short while that Jesus the light will be with them.
2. They would do well to pay attention and consider the words of the light, of the one who did so many unheard of, amazing miracles among them.
3. If they do not obey the teaching of Jesus about himself, then the darkness will overtake them.
4. No one walking in darkness knows where they are going–they are lost and vulnerable.
5. If they believe in Jesus Christ the Light, then they will become sons of light.
D. After speaking the above words, Jesus leaves them, an indication of what will soon happen when he is crucified.
John 12:36b…When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.
III. John 12:37-43 The Jewish Leaders’ Response
A. John the writer steps in with narrative to describe and explain the religious leaders’ response, which was even worse than that of the crowd in general.
John 12:37-43 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,
Jesus had performed all the signs expected of Messiah.
38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
John tells us that Isaiah had prophesied many centuries earlier that Messiah’s arrival would be met with disbelief (Isaiah 53)
39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
John further states that not only did they not believe, they could not believe. This is because at some point in Israel’s long history of disobedience as a nation, they had passed the point of no return. Their continually obstinate walk of hardened disobedience caused the Lord to harden their hearts even further, so that repentance as a nation was no longer possible.
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.
Isaiah the prophet had been shown the future Messiah’s glory and spoke about him in Scripture, nearly as much as the New Testament itself.
42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
God always leaves a pathway and door of repentance open to individuals. Many of the religious leaders did believe in Jesus, although here again, they would not confess him publicly for fear of being put out of the synagogue by the others. They loved the temporal and fading glory of man, rather than the glory that comes from God. They loved the kind of glory that we see being given by the media to one celebrity after another. Because they loved this worldly glory, they would not confess Christ publicly, even though they believed.
B. Recap: Ultimate Rejection Is How Christ’s Triumphal Entry Ended. Jesus’ Passion Has Almost Arrived.
IV. John 12:44-50 A Summary of Jesus’ Teaching as Given by John
John 12:44 And Jesus cried out and said,
“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. (John 4:21 7:16; 8:19, 42; 12:30; 13:20)
45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. (John 14:9; 8:19; 10:38)
46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (John 3:16; 1:4; 1:9; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35, 36)
47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. (John 3:17; 8:15, 16)
48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. (John 5:24; 45-47; 8:31, 37, 51; 14:23, 24)
49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment–what to say and what to speak. (John 7:16; 3:11; 8:26, 28, 38; 14:10)
50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” (John 3:16; 6:63)
V. Looking Ahead: Jesus Retires to Spend His Last Hours Alone with His Disciples (cf. John 12:36b). In Chapter 13 He Washes Their Feet.