Lesson 60: John 12:17-30 – The Testimony of Lazarus

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 60 from the sermon series "The Gospel of John" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



The people who heard that the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead “bare record” of Him (John 12:17,18) by greeting Him as their king (v.12-16). When the Pharisees told one another, “perceive ye how ye prevail nothing” (v.19) you’ll remember they tried to convince people to turn Him in (11:57), but in this they didn’t prevail in stopping Him.

When they said “the world is gone after Him,” this was a figure of speech. It is important to recognize when the Bible uses them, and when it doesn’t. Since our Calvinist friends believe Christ died only for the sins of the elect, they say that John 1:29 is a figure of speech, and compare John 11:19 for proof. But IJohn 2:2 proves it’s not.

When “certain Greeks” wanted to see the Lord (Jo.12: 20), we must remember He wasn’t sent to Gentiles (Mt.15:24). But there were two reasons the Lord was sent to the Jews, the second of which was so that “the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy” (Ro.15:8,9). God planned for the Gen-tiles to be drawn to Israel’s rise (Isa.60:1-3) in the kingdom of heaven. We just saw a type of Israel’s rise when the Lord raised Lazarus, and now we’re seeing a type of Gentiles being drawn to Israel’s rise with these Gentiles.

These Gentiles are not a type of what is happening today, when Gentiles are coming to God through Israel’s fall, not her rise (Rom.11:11). Paul says what is happening today is part of the mystery (Rom.11:11,26). And the mystery cannot be portrayed here in John, not even in the types.

These Gentiles approach Philip about seeing the Lord (John 12:21) probably because he has a Gentile sounding name (cf. Luke 3:1). But rather than getting the Lord for them, Philip confers with Andrew (John 12:22). He wasn’t prejudiced against Gentiles; he more likely remembered the Lord saying that He wasn’t sent to Gentiles.

So what made them decide to approach the Lord for them? They probably knew Isaiah said that Gentiles would come to Israel’s rise, and they’d just seen Israel rise up to greet the Lord with shouts of hosanna! Israel seemed to have risen higher than ever before, so they figured it might be time for the Gentiles to come.

The Lord “answered” (John 11:23) by talking about dying and being “glorified” in resurrection (cf.Acts3:13). He was telling them that it was almost time for the Gentiles, but that He had to die first and rise again in the kingdom. There is no indication He saw these Gentiles.

The Lord know His hour had come (John 12:24) from Dan-iel’s prophecy (9:25,26), which worked out to the “day” He rode into Jerusalem (cf.Luke 19:38-41,42). Knowing Daniel said He’d be “cut off” at this time, He started talking about dying. He was the “corn of wheat” that had to die (Jo.12:24) to bring forth fruit among the Gentiles.

Israel had to die and rise too (Psalm 72:16), and then the nations would run to Israel because God glorified her (Isa. 55:5). If Gentiles wanted to come to the Lord before that, they had to be willing to die in the Tribulation (Jo.12:25). This is what the Lord told Peter (Mt.16:21-25). He had the middle of the Tribulation in mind (Rev.12:7-11), when fol-lowing Him meant being willing to die rather than take the mark of the beast (John 12:26). That’s what taking up your cross was all about (Mt.16:21-23) The Promised Land was a type of the kingdom, and to get in you had to follow the Lord (Num.14:24; 32:11).

The Lord wasn’t “troubled” (John 12:27) because He feared dying, He feared being “made sin” (IICor.5:21) and “being made a curse for us (Gal.3:13). But He knew that was why He came (John 12:27), so didn’t ask to be saved.

God glorified His name in the past when Israel was bad and He punished her (Neh.9:33; Dan.9:14). If He didn’t, it would have shamed His name. He was about to glorify it again when He punished His Son because we were bad.

The Lord’s voice is associated with thunder (John 12:29 cf. Job 37:2-5; 40:9; Ps.29), and the giving of the Law (Ex.19: 16-18) and the Lord was about to become a lawbreaker.

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