John 11:21-27 – Resurrection in the Kingdom of God

In the past few weeks we have seen how John 11 addresses Love, Death, and Grief in the Kingdom of God.
• Today, we come face to face with Resurrection in the Kingdom of God.
• And it is here that we not only come face to face with how transformative Jesus’ ministry was in this regard.
• But we also encounter a powerful apologetic for the Resurrection of Jesus.


John 11:21–27 (ESV) — 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

In order to get at what is going on in this exchange between Jesus and Martha, we need to get at the background.
When Martha says, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day”, what is she referring to?
• We can suggest that whatever else she was saying, she was probably affirming Jesus’ own teaching on the subject thus far (John 6:44; 54).
• And when asked in vs. 26 if she believed Jesus’ words about Himself concerning the resurrection, her response betrays her ignorance of the nature of Kingdom Resurrection.
    o She didn’t yet have the foundation to properly understand what she was just told.
    o Her Jewish heritage had not prepared her for Jesus’ response.
    o So she answered as best as she could with what Kostenberger suggests is a creedal response.
    o Yet as correct as her answer was, it was still missing a piece of the puzzle.
• So in answering this question, we will be able to appreciate all the more Jesus’ answer, “I am the resurrection and the life” and how it unexpectedly complements, for the believing Jew, Martha’s vs. 27 response.
• The sources for all of the following background info are N.T. Wright’s lectures found at www.ntwrightpage.com and his book, The Resurrection of the Son of God.

What Does Resurrection Mean?
• First, we need to define resurrection.
• “Resurrection means bodily life after ‘life after death’, or, if you prefer, bodily life after the state of ‘death’” – N.T. Wright.
• What happened to Elijah and Enoch, for example, is not resurrection because they did not die.
• And what happened to Enoch and Elijah was something the Jew did not “expect to happen again” – N.T. Wright.
• Resurrection is what happens only to people who are “at present dead” – N.T. Wright.

Does the OT speak of resurrection?
• “Nobody doubts that the Old Testament speaks of the resurrection of the dead” – N.T. Wright.
• However, it is something that is “deeply asleep, only to be woken by echoes from later times and texts” – N.T. Wright.
• In other words, there just isn’t a lot of OT info on resurrection.
• And where the OT does speak of a bodily resurrection it appears late.
• In fact, most of the sources for what we know about Jewish views of bodily resurrection are from post-biblical literature such as the Mishnah, Talmud, The Wisdom literature and from communities like Qumran – N.T. Wright.
• This is why it is said that the OT itself, “is not particularly concerned with life after death at all, still less with resurrection” – N.T. Wright

What is the foundation of OT bodily resurrection?
• The foundation appears to be the hope for the restoration of Israel from exile.
• In the OT the life of Israel is associated with the land, AND the death of Israel is associated with exile.
• Land is life – Exile is death

So, allusions to a bodily resurrection were expressed in the context of the death of exile and an expectation for:
Restoration – the restoration of Israel as a nation
Return – the return of Israel to its land from its exile in Babylon.
• Ezekiel 37:12 (ESV) — 12 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel.
• This is why in the OT, “The nation and land of the present world were far more important than what happened to an individual beyond the grave” – N.T. Wright.
• And so the hope of Israel was that, though individual would die, “YHWH’s purposes [for Israel], however, would go forwards, and would be fulfilled in their time” – N.T. Wright.

Why is this foundation important – Root of Hope?
• “This explicit link of life with the land and death with exile, coupled with the promise of restoration the other side of exile, is one of the forgotten roots of the fully developed hope of ancient Israel. The dead might be asleep; they might be almost nothing at all; but hope lived on within the covenant and promise of YHWH” – N.T. Wright.
• The “roots of the fully developed hope” easily accommodated a developing view of bodily resurrection.
• And these roots “could well have been read within post-biblical Judaism” as having undertones of a bodily resurrection – N.T. Wright.

Where does the OT speak of a bodily Resurrection?
• As mentioned earlier, Jewish resurrection was fleshed out mainly in the 2nd temple post-biblical texts.
• But there are some OT verses that speak of a bodily resurrection.
• The most obvious are Isaiah 26:19, Hosea 13:14, and Daniel 12:2-3.
• Isaiah 26:19 (ESV) — 19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
• Daniel 12:2–3 (ESV) — 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
• Hosea 13:14 (ESV) — 14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.

What do these verses say about a bodily resurrection?
• (1) The expectation expressed in the resurrection language was at a minimum that God “will reverse the actions of the wicked pagans, and raise the martyrs, and the teachers who kept Israel on course, to a glorious life” – N.T. Wright.
• (2) God will also, “raise their persecutors to a new existence: instead of remaining in the decent obscurity of Sheol or ‘the dust’, they will face perpetual public obloquy [public disgrace]” – N.T. Wright.
• (3) And specifically for Daniel 12, “the resurrection of God’s people (at least in the persons of the martyrs, seen as representing the nation) is the form that national restoration takes. This is the real end of the deepest exile of all” – N.T. Wright.
• (4) Finally, in these texts the “hope for nation, family and land joins up with the emerging belief in the creator’s faithfulness even beyond the grave” – N.T. Wright.

BTW – “However concrete the reference in any of the passages [to a bodily resurrection], there is no doubt that even in such cases the overarching context is that of the hope of the nation for national restoration and resettlement in the land” – N.T. Wright.

So taking into account these OT verses and the post-biblical literature, what was the resurrection view of Martha when she said “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day”?
• For, as we have said, it is in answering this question that we can fully appreciate what Jesus was doing when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life”.

This is what we know about Martha’s [Jews’] view of resurrection at the time of Jesus:
• (1) Jews “ultimate hope was [not] the resurrection of the body” – N.T. Wright.
• (2) “There were no traditions about a Messiah being raised to life”
    o “There was hope for a resurrection”
    o “There was hope for a Messiah”
    o But the two never intersect
    o There weren’t even “traditions about prophets being raised to new bodily life”
• (3) There was no concept of a resurrection split in two.
    o For the Jew, “resurrection [was] a single all-embracing moment, not a matter of one person being raised ahead of everybody else” – N.T. Wright.
• (4) Life after death was as a disembodied spirit in “some kind” of intermediate state.
    o In the “hand of the creator god”
    o “In paradise”
    o In “some kind of Sheol”
• (5) Vindication of the Messiah would come through the exaltation and restoration of Israel.
• (6) The Jewish view of resurrection was all over the map.
    o Wright’s book spends literally hundreds of pages examining these differences.
    o The variety of Christian views on Jesus’ Second Coming are a possible parallel here – Premillenial, Amillenial, Postmillenial, Dispensation Premillenial, Pre-Tribulation, Post-Tribulation, etc.

The book of Acts has two great examples of the Jewish views of resurrection:
(1) Acts 23:6–9 (ESV) — 6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Br`others, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?”

Sadducees believed in neither (vs. 8):
• (1) Life after ‘life after death’ (resurrection) – “there is no resurrection
• (2) ‘Life after death’ – “nor angel, nor spirit
• And this view, by the way, was the conservative view at the time.
• This is because resurrection and ‘life after death’, as we have said, were not to be found in the Torah and the earlier OT books.
• That is to say that most of the influential texts on these subjects were very recent and were outside the OT canon.

Pharisees and most Jews believed in (vs. 8):
• Both (1) and (2) above.
• Specifically, after death, the righteous Jew lived as a disembodied “spirit” or “angel”.
• And then ‘The Resurrection’, “will take place at a future date when all the righteous dead are raised to share God’s new world” – N.T. Wright.
• “They do not suppose for a moment that Paul has actually been a witness of the resurrection itself; that is out of the question as far as they are concerned” – N.T. Wright.
• This is why they suggest that Jesus presented Himself to Paul during the disembodied intermediate state as “a spirit or an angel”.
• Had Jesus been bodily resurrected, all the righteous Jews from Israel’s history would have also been resurrected and Israel’s glory would have been restored.

(2) Acts 12:13–15 (ESV) — 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!
• The background from our resurrection discussion and Acts 23 also sheds light on the above text.
• Peter had been captured and many were praying for him at Mary's, the mother of John’s house.
• After Peter’s escape, he too went to the house.
• Rhoda recognized Peter at the gate by his voice.
• So she ran and told the others that Peter was “standing at the gate”.
• Understanding her implication that Peter was actually there, “They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind’”.
• Clearly, they assumed Peter was killed by Herod just as James was in Acts 12:2.
• Therefore, just as the Pharisees thought, if anyone was there it was Peter’s disembodied “angel”.
• For as we saw with the Pharisees, it couldn’t be Peter’s resurrected body, or all the righteous of Israel would be resurrected and Israel’s glory restored.

Back to John 11:
So when Martha responded to Jesus’ proposition, “Your brother will rise again” (vs. 23), with the statement, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (vs. 24) we can now see what she meant.
• And it was not at all what Jesus meant and what He was about to demonstrate with Lazarus and Himself.
• The resurrection was and would be unlike anything she imagined.
• Let’s see why.

So, when Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life”, what was He saying about Resurrection in the Kingdom of God?
• (1) Resurrection in Jesus Christ is our ultimate hope.
• (2) The Messiah is the Resurrection.
    o The hope of the Messiah intersected with the hope of Resurrection.
    o And, “Nobody put those two hopes together until the early Christians did so” – N.T. Wright.
• (3) Resurrection is in two phases.
    o Kingdom Resurrection held that there were “two phases: first the Messiah, then at his coming all his people” – N.T. Wright.
• (4) Life after death is in heaven in the presence of God (before resurrection – our life after ‘life after death’).
    o We are immortal for all eternity – not an angelic or spiritual being having life “by the creative power of YHWH” – N.T. Wright.
• (5) Jesus as Messiah was vindicated through His resurrection.
• (6) Resurrection in the Kingdom of God had a “precise shape and content” – N.T. Wright.
    o It is an act of “new creation, accomplished by the Holy Spirit.”
    o It involves new, glorified bodies – “not be a simple return to the same sort of body as before”
    o It will involve the creation of a new heaven and new earth in which are resurrected selves will live for eternity.

BTW - There will come a day when the Christian view of the Second Coming will also have “a precise shape and content”.
• And that day will be when Jesus actually does return.
• Just as Jesus’ Resurrection accounts for the clarity on resurrection, so His Second Coming will have the effect of bringing clarity to all the “millenials”.

Resurrection in the Kingdom of God was “a sudden and dramatic mutation from within the Jewish worldview” – N.T. Wright
• It “burst the boundaries” of Jewish views of resurrection – N.T. Wright.
• In fact, Martha and the Jew’s beliefs about life after death, “and resurrection in particular, had not prepared them” for Resurrection in the Kingdom of God – N.T. Wright
• So, given the differences between Martha’s Jewish view and Jesus’ Kingdom view of resurrection, we can see why her answer in John 11:27 seemed a bit disjointed.

Jewish vs. Christian Resurrection

Furthermore, Jesus words, “I am the resurrection and the life”, are also radical in the following ways:
• It’s a radical claim against both the orthodoxy of the Sadducees and the enlightenment of the Pharisees and the other Jews of which Martha was a part.
• Resurrection was here and now in Jesus – “I am the resurrection and the life”.
• Resurrection would bring life after ‘life after death’ and Jesus, the Messiah, would be the first and Lazarus was the preview.
• Resurrection, shockingly, would be as much about the individual as it was about Israel’s exaltation.

Apologetical Significance:
The historian has to account for the above 6 differences between OT and Kingdom Resurrection.
How did they arise?
What accounts for them?

Additionally, the historian also has to contend with the following:
• Jesus’ Death
• Jesus’ Burial
• Empty Tomb
• Jesus Appearances (1 Cor. 15) to Multiple Witnesses (some hostile – Paul and James)
    o Embarrassing Witnesses - women
• Conversion of Enemy – Paul
• Conversion of Skeptic – James
• Context of Jewish Messianic Expectations and Jesus
• Belief of disciples that Jesus was raised from the dead

The historical sciences make deductions based on a principle call the “the inference to the best explanation”:
• Many infer that some of the following ad hoc explanations are the best.
    o Jesus didn’t really die.
    o He was given something that knocked Him out.
    o The women went to the wrong tomb.
    o The disciples merely had hallucinations.
    o The disciples were in such shock over Jesus’ death, they dealt with it by concocting His resurrection.
    o The resurrection accounts were written in later.

However none of these are a best explanation because not one or even two of them account for all that needs to be accounted for.



John 11:17-20 - Grief in the Kingdom of God

Over the past two weeks, we have seen how John 11:1-16 provide profound insight into both Love in the Kingdom of God and Death in the Kingdom of God.
• In each case, Jesus challenged the worldly view of love and the Jewish view of death.
• Today, we see one more way that Jesus challenges us.
• This time He is challenging us to trust Him during our grief.


John 11:17–20 (ESV) — 17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.

John tells us that when Jesus finally arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had been dead four days.
• Many suggest that this observation is meant to highlight the fact that Lazarus was dead as dead can be.
• And in light of verse John 11:4, in which Jesus says Lazarus’ death, “is so that the Son of God may be glorified through it”, it also reminds us again just how radical love in the Kingdom is.
• God’s desire to glorify Jesus had put Lazarus’ family through 4 days of mourning.

In verses 18 & 19, we also get a glimpse of why the disciples expressed concern over Jesus’ life.
• Bethany is only 2 miles from Jerusalem, the place where He was almost stoned just a few months prior.
• And “many of the Jews” had come from Jerusalem to mourn with Martha and Mary.
• Jews who no doubt would know who Jesus was.

Finally, John tells us something more significant that its one sentence seems to indicate.
• John 11:20 (ESV) — 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.

How to mourn – Sit Shiva:
We know that Martha and Mary would have been sitting shiva after the burial of Lazarus.
• Sitting shiva is, “a traditional seven-day period of mourning the dead that is observed in Jewish homes” – Merriam-Webster.
• This is part of the Talmud’s prescription for 7 days of deep mourning – Kostenberger.
• In addition to mourning, the point of sitting shiva was to receive the “condolences of their friends” – Kostenberger.
• So given the expectations of sitting shiva, Martha should have stayed in the house with Mary – Kostenberger.
• However, John tells us that “she went and met him”.

Why is this significant?
• Most suggest that Martha’s breaking shiva and leaving the house is simply her personality.
• We know, for example, that Luke 10:38-42 portrays her as a busy body.
• However, we also know something else about her actions due to ANE cultural norms.
• "In the Middle East, village people show honor to an important guest by walking some distance out of town to greet the guest and escort him or her into the village” – Kenneth Bailey.
• In fact, the more important the guest, the farther they will travel to meet him.

To appreciate what Martha was doing here, think of it like this:
• Your loved one falls terribly ill; you know who can heal him; you send for the healer but he delays his coming; your loved one dies; he has been dead 4 days; you are in the middle of mourning; finally, the healer shows up.
What do you do?

Martha did the unexpected – showing great respect to Jesus, she went out to meet him.
• In the midst of her mourning and grief, Martha didn’t wait for Jesus to meet her sitting shiva.
• She broke shiva, and went out to meet Jesus, thereby honoring the very one who let Lazarus die.
• This is an amazing example for us on how to handle grief.
Is our trust in Christ such that we can honor Him in the midst of our pain and grief?
• In any view but the Christian worldview this makes little sense.
    o Honor the one who could have prevented the whole thing to begin with.
    o Love the one whose love for you manifested itself in the death of your brother.
What possible fruit can come from such a silly looking trust?

In this case, her trust in Christ results in a profound and necessary lesson on the Resurrection in the Kingdom of God.
• We will get into this next week and it is awesome.


John 11:7-16 – Death in the Kingdom of God

Last week we discussed the startling and remarkable way love is expressed in the Kingdom of God.
• Jesus taught us that beholding the glory of God is a priority for the expression of love in the Kingdom.
• Beholding God’s glory takes precedent over our desire to avoid death, pain and grief.
• And this is why he waited 2 days after hearing of Lazarus’ illness.
• Today, Jesus continues His Kingdom education by redefining death.
• We will see that Jesus has at least two comments to make concerning death in the Kingdom of God.


John 11:7–10 (ESV) — 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

Our text today starts with a concern over death.
• The disciples don’t think Jesus should return to the area around Jerusalem because the Jews are “seeking to stone” Him.
• And it is His answer to their concern that provides us with the first way He addressed death in the Kingdom.
BTW – I like that in a context where Jesus was laying the groundwork to challenge their very notion of death, they express fear of the very thing He seeks to challenge – good timing.

Death is in God’s Timing:
So the first way Jesus addressed death in the Kingdom of God was to tell the disciples that His death is in God’s timing.
• He did this by saying “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. (vs. 9)”
• Jesus intent here, all agree, is to convey the same meaning to be found in the following passages of John.
• John 9:4–5 (ESV) — 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
• John 7:6 (ESV) — 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here.
• John 7:8 (ESV) — 8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.”
• John 7:30 (ESV) — 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.

Jesus’ appointed time to die on the cross was set by His Father, not by the mobs in Judea.
• Jesus wanted the disciples to know this.
• Death comes only at God’s appointed time – no sooner or no later.

However, we must be clear that He is not telling them that the night will not come.
• He will die and they will die.
• John 12:27 (ESV) — 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.
• However, this death will be much different than what they conceive.

And this leads us to the second way he addressed death in the Kingdom of God.


John 11:11–16 (ESV) — 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Why did Jesus describe death as a sleep from which Lazarus will awaken?
• What was Jesus trying to convey?
• To answer that and to appreciate the second way Jesus addressed death in the Kingdom of God, we need to get at some background on the Hebrew view of death.
• Because it is this view that Jesus was about to profoundly change.

Death in the OT:
Death in the OT can be said to have 3 general meanings (AYBD).
• (1) a “metaphor for those things which detract from life as Yahweh intends it”
• (2) “as a ‘power’ in opposition to the created order”
• (3) “for biological cessation”
• Number (1) is spiritually related; number (2) can be both spiritually and physically related; number (3) is physically related.

With regards to (3), “biological cessation” the following can be said:
• “Belief in a substantial, meaningful existence after death is a relatively late development in the history of Israelite religion. The usual view expressed in the biblical books is that, upon death, one’s shade descends to Sheol, where one remains forever, cut off from God’s presence” – AYBD.
• This slow change from “forever” dead to “meaningful existence” was a somewhat of a sequential process, though the views did coexist.
• N.T. Wright puts this process as follows, “absence of hope beyond death; hope for blissful life after death; hope for new bodily life after ‘life after death’” – N.T. Wright.
• We will briefly describe some of the specific OT views of (3), “biological cessation”.

Death as Sleep:
The phrase “fallen asleep” was a Hebrew way of speaking of physical death, number (3) from above – Beasely-Murray.
• 1 Kings 2:10 (ESV) — 10 Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.
• Psalm 13:3 (ESV) — 3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
• It is for this reason that, as we will see shortly, Jesus’ characterization of death as a sleep would not have been unusual, but describing it as a sleep from which Lazarus would awake would have been.

Death is Permanent:
We also need to know that with respect to physical death (3), no one was immune and it was considered to be a permanent condition – not something that one would awake from as Jesus told us in vs. 11.
• 2 Samuel 14:14a (ESV) — 14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.
• Psalm 6:5 (ESV) — 5 For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?
• Psalm 115:17 (ESV) — 17 The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence.
• Job 14:11–12 (ESV) — 11 As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up, 12 so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep.
    o Elijah was the exception – 2 Kings 2:11.
    o And the boy brought back to life by Elisha was also an exception, but we can assume he ultimately did not escape death – 2 Kings 4:35.

That biological death was considered as something permanent by the Jews is also seen in Mark.
• Mark 5:39–40 (ESV) — 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was.
BTW - though Daniel 12:2 reflects a different meaning, one more in line with the view Jesus was about to reveal, it had not yet “seized the minds of the people” – Beasely-Murray.

Death is Corruption:
And as conveyed by numbers (1) and (2) from above, the disobedience in the Garden of Eden that led to death, “detracted from life as Yahweh intended and it” corrupted the “created order”.
• This corruption manifested itself as both physical death, as we have just seen and spiritual death for all of humanity.
• Athanasius put it this way, “men began to die, and corruption ran riot among them and held sway over them”.

Paul gives us an example of the “corruption ran riot” due to death.
• Romans 1:28–32 (ESV) — 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Death and Corruption did not Glorify God:
Finally, we have to realize the problem corruption and its death caused for the purpose of life and creation – the glorification of God we spoke of last week.
• This purpose is not just a NT theme.
• In fact, “The most significant theme for Israel was the understanding that life provided an opportunity for the individual and community to praise Yahweh. Praise of God was the sign of life” – AYBD.
• Those engulfed by corruption and its death could not praise God, and thus could not participate in this “most significant theme” – AYBD.
• The consequences of death and corruption are one of the reasons that for the Jew, it was a profound blessing to have a long life and many children.
• Thus, it was unthinkable that even the “Holy One”, who we know from Paul to be Jesus, would taste death.
• Psalm 16:10 (ESV) — 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.

So now that we have an idea about the notions of death Jesus was confronting, we can appreciate and get at what He was doing.

Death Redefined in the Kingdom of God:
In telling the disciples that He will awaken Lazarus from death, Jesus is both:
• (1) Departing radically from the typical view of death
• (2) And pointing to Himself as the reason why

It departs radically because Jesus is now saying that death is a sleep, but one “from which they shall be awakened through Jesus” – Beasely-Murray.
• In other words, death is not permanent!
• He makes this claim in verse 11 when He says that He will “awaken him” (Lazarus) from death.
• And by His own resurrection He demonstrates forever that death is dead.

It points to Himself because He is about to claim and then demonstrate that He is “the resurrection and the life” (vs. 25).
• And it is He, in union with the Father (John 11:41-43), that will shortly raise Lazarus from the dead.
• He will do so in public with the spoken word of God so that all can see and hear.
• John 11:41–43 (ESV) — 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”

And this redefining of death in the Kingdom of God is why Jesus tells the disciples in verse 4 that an illness that led to death is in fact an “illness [that] does not lead to death”.
• And why he says in John 8:52, “If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death”.
• Believers will never be deprived of the presence of Jesus Christ.
• We will never taste death, because we will be full and satisfied in the glory and eternity of Jesus Christ.

And importantly, Jesus shows us in verse 15 with His words, “for your sake”, that Kingdom Love and Kingdom Death intersect.
• In teaching, and shortly in demonstrating, that death is not permanent, Jesus is loving the disciples, Martha, Mary and Lazarus with Kingdom Love.
• He is pointing all of them to the glory and power of the Father as manifested in the Son to defeat death!
• What could be a higher expression of love than to show the disciples that through the Father-ordained ministry of the Son, death is defeated.
• What a glorious victory to behold; what a marvelous love to receive!

But there is more!
• Jesus was not only telling them that the corruption and permanency of death was about to be defeated, but that death itself would soon be, in complete opposition to its prior status, an occasion to praise God!
• As we just saw, those engulfed by corruption and death, could not praise and glorify God.
• The very things we were created to do.
• But now, through death, Jesus would demonstrate His victory via the resurrection over it and thereby vindicate His Father-ordained misery.
• He would overturn death’s permanency.
• He would cleanse death’s corruption.
• He would restore the created order and His intent for creation.
• Athanasius put like this, “The renewal of creation [would be] wrought by the self-same Word Who made it in the beginning”.
• This would enable us to praise and glorify God for eternity.

And it is this view of death that Jesus wants the disciples to “believe” when He says, “and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe”.
• Not just because it is truth, but in order that they may also be prepared for Jesus’ coming death.

Paul put the Jesus’ Kingdom view of death this way:
• 1 Corinthians 15:51–55 (ESV) — 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

Lessons for Us:
• Finally, Thomas’ words, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (vs. 16), seem to demonstrate that Jesus’ teaching is taking hold.
• D.A. Carson characterizes Thomas’ words as reflecting “raw devotion and courage”.
• And as such, they are a challenge to us all.
• Mark puts the challenge to us this way:
• Mark 8:34 (ESV) — 34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.
• Because as Jesus as just shown, death is defeated and not to be feared.


John 11:1-6 – Love in the Kingdom of God

The way love is expressed in the Kingdom of God is often at odds with its worldly expression.
• In our lesson today, Jesus makes these differences plainly clear.
• He shows us this love is a Glory kind of Love.


Knowing the nature of Jesus’ relationship with Lazarus, Mary and Martha is necessary to fully appreciate one of the remarkable principals to be found in our text.

Jesus Loved Lazarus:
• Jesus had a very special relationship with Lazarus (means – “whose help is God”).
• John tells us that Jesus “phileo” (vss. 3 & 36) and “agapao” (vs. 5) Lazarus.
    o In other words, Jesus not only had a deep, selfless love for Lazarus, but He also had a deep affection for Lazarus based on a personal relationship; they were very close – DBL.
• The depth of Jesus’ love for Lazarus is also revealed in that:
    o On his way to where they “laid him” (vss. 34), words that spoke of the stark reality of Lazarus’ death, “Jesus wept” (vs. 35).
    o Even the Jews present, perhaps mourners, noticed, “See how he loved him!” (vs. 36).
    o And John tells us twice that Jesus was “deeply moved” (vs. 38) over Lazarus’ death.
• “deeply moved” literally means to have “an intense feeling of concern” [a combination of anger and sorrow] in our context – DBL.
    o It is translated as “groaning in himself” in the ASV and YLT and “angry” in the NLT.
    o Jesus’ deep love for Lazarus meant the feeling of a deep loss with Lazarus’ death, even by Jesus.

Jesus Loved Martha and Mary:
• As with Lazarus, Jesus “agapao” Mary and Martha (vs.5).
• As with Lazarus, Jesus was “deeply moved” by their grief because of His love for them (vs. 33).

Now that we fully understand Jesus’ love for Lazarus, Mary and Martha we can move on.


John 11:1–6 (ESV) — 1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair [John 12:3], whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Mary, Lazarus’ sister, sent word to Jesus about Lazarus’ illness.
• Given Jesus’ relationship with Lazarus, Mary knew Jesus would want to know that His dear friend was ill.
• And no doubt, Mary had a pretty good idea that Jesus could heal Lazarus (vs. 32).
• Jesus reply to the messenger must have struck him as rather peculiar.

Jesus’ words to the messenger from John 11:4:
• “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
• This answer is very similar to the one Jesus gave for the blind man’s blindness.
• He was blind not due to sin, “but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).

Yet, even stranger than His words were His actions.
• John reminds us that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus (vs. 5).
• This reminder in vs. 5 seems to be an acknowledgement of how strange Jesus’ coming actions are.
• So, after softening the blow, John tells us what Jesus did in response to the news of Lazarus’ illness.

Jesus’ action from John 11:6:
• “So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

How is Jesus’ action in verse 6 a demonstration of the kind deep love we know He had for Lazarus, Martha and Mary?
• We have to try and make sense of this answer.

Let’s acknowledge the obvious.
• 1) Given Jesus’ relationship to Lazarus, Mary and Martha, we would have expected Him to rush at once to Lazarus’ aid.
• 2) Jesus’ response is the complete opposite of this expected response.
• 3) In fact, it seems almost to contradict, or at least show that John’s description of Jesus’ love for Lazarus to be hyperbole.
• 4) And, frankly, we can’t relate to it at all.

However, I think we will find here an understanding of love that suits perfectly with the Kingdom of God which Jesus inaugurated and operated.
• In fact, we will find that the “two-day delay was motivated by Jesus’ love for Martha, Mary and Lazarus” – D.A. Carson.
• This of course means that our perplexity over Jesus’ response is informed by a worldly understanding of love and not a Kingdom understanding.


To get at the answer to our question posed above, “How is Jesus’ action in verse 6 a demonstration of the kind deep love we know He had for Lazarus, Martha and Mary?” we need to understand a little of the foundational principals of the Kingdom of God.
• A definition: “The Kingdom of God is primarily the reign, rule, or authority of God himself; secondarily, it is the realm in which that rule is directly exercised, consisting largely in the laws governing the natural world and, more importantly, the individual and collective hearts of those who have bowed to God’s rule.” – J.P. Moreland.
• Dallas Willard says simply that The Kingdom of God is “death to self” and “where what God wants done is done”.

Why will it help us to have a basic understanding of the Kingdom of God to answer our question?
• Because the Kingdom of God “stands at the very center of the message of the historical Jesus” – AYBD.
• It is “the worldview of Jesus of Nazareth and Holy Scripture” – J.P. Moreland.
• It “established a radically new order of life on earth” – Dallas Willard.
• And Jesus’ odd response clearly points to “a radically new order of life on earth”.

Kingdom of God in Scripture – a few examples:
1) The Kingdom of God is at hand – the now and not yet.
• Matthew 3:2 (ESV) — 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
• Matthew 10:7 (ESV) — 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
• Matthew 12:28 (ESV) — 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

2) The Kingdom of God is priceless.
• Matthew 13:44 (ESV) — 44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
• Matthew 13:45-46 (ESV) — 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

3) The Kingdom of God requires self-sacrifice.
• Mark 9:47 (ESV) — 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,
• Acts 14:22 (ESV) — 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

4) The Kingdom of God has different priorities than the world.
• Luke 9:60 (ESV) — 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
• Luke 12:29–31 (ESV) — 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

5) The Kingdom of God is not about worldly gratification.
• Romans 14:17 (ESV) — 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Right away we see that all of these things have in common the denial of self and the glory of God.
• In this context, love will look different than it does in the world.

So, how does this relate to our question and a “glory kind of love”?
• In the Kingdom of God, the “deepest essence of God is love” – Dallas Willard.
• And our expression of this love is NOT an expression or fulfillment of our desires or the desires of those that we love – Willard.
• But, love expressed in the Kingdom of God IS the “will to good”.
• In other words, “We love something or someone when we promote its good for its own sake” – Willard.
• This love is contrary to a secular worldview, one outside of the Kingdom of God, which sees love as a fulfillment of desires or not standing in the way of the fulfillment of desires.

And in the Kingdom of God, the best way to love someone, to “will to good” and to promote someone’s “good for its own sake” is to point them to, and help them behold the glory of God.
• Isaiah 66:19 (ESV) — 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations.
• 1 Peter 4:10–11 (ESV) — 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
• 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) — 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
• This is why, for example, the Westminster Catechism states that the chief end or aim of man is to “glorify God, and enjoy him forever”.
• And John MacArthur says, the glory of God is “the most important theme in the universe”.
• Clearly, not an aim of any worldview but that of the Kingdom of God and thus Jesus.

So, the answer to our question is that, in spite of looking like Jesus didn’t care much for Lazarus, Martha and Mary, Jesus’ actions actually demonstrated the highest form of love to them and even His disciples.
• He showed them a “glory kind of love!
• A love that fulfilled much more than a desire to avoid pain and grief.

If an expression of love in the Kingdom of God is to point people to the glory of God, how did Jesus’ actions do this?
1) Jesus loved them and glorified God by using Lazarus’ death, not just his sickness, to glorify Himself.
• As Jesus’ own words declared, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
• This is because, as Jesus said in John 5:23, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him”.
• Jesus resurrection of Lazarus was the means used to glorify Himself and the Father.
• Jesus was showing that He is “the resurrection and the life” (vs. 25).

2) Jesus loved them and glorified God by His example of obedience.
• John 5:19–20 (ESV) — 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.
• We can deduce, then, that Jesus waited because it was the Father’s will He do so.
• Obedience to God’s commands and law “is the structure of a life of grace in the kingdom of God” – Dallas Willard.

3) Jesus loved them and glorified God by preparing them for His death and crucifixion.
• John 11:14–15 (ESV) — 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
• The disciples, Mary and Martha “are manifestly unprepared to endure the shock of faith that lies ahead of them; the awakening of Lazarus from his death will grant them a fresh vision of his glory” – Beasley-Murray.
• “Lazarus’s death becomes occasion for rejoicing because it will serve to strengthen the disciples’ faith in Jesus once Lazarus has been raised” – Kostenberger.

Lessons for Us:
• The result of all this was that Jesus resurrection of Lazarus “confirmed the faith of his disciples and friends with dramatic power that would have been lacking if Jesus had responded immediately to the plea for help” – D.A. Carson.
    o Jesus’ waiting here is very similar to our lesson from John 6:16-21 – Jesus Had Not Yet Come.
    o In fact in verse 30 John tells us, “Now Jesus had not yet come into the village”.
• And to grow and increase a believer’s faith is both to glorify God and is to love the believer at the same time.
• This, in the Kingdom of God, is more important than the keeping people from pain or fulfilling their desires.
• In fact, as discussed, Jesus Himself also endured deep emotional pain over Lazarus’ death.
• This means that outside of the Kingdom of God, pain and suffering have no purpose – this is both sad and disturbing.
• But in the Kingdom of God, God desires that we glorify Him by enduring what is necessary that we might “manifest the radical nature of the Kingdom of God and the fruit of the Holy Spirit” – J.P. Moreland.
• And bringing us to this nature is to show us a Glory Kind of Love.
    o On one level, this is what Jesus means when he says to us, “This illness does not lead to death” (vs. 4).