John 11:28-44 – Messiah in the Kingdom of God

Thus far in John 11, we have seen how the Kingdom of God that Jesus was inaugurating revolutionized love, death, grief and resurrection.
• And the events leading up to Lazarus’ resurrection makes this monumentally clear.
• However, there is one thing that is foundational to the working out of the Kingdom of God that John 11 also plays out for us.
• It was first alluded to with Jesus’ words in 11:4.
    o John 11:4 (ESV) — 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.”

Here we see that the glory of God the Father is foundational to understanding John 11.
• But more than that, this verse also suggests a distinction, yet a relationship between, Jesus’ glory and God the Father’s glory.
• And the one aspect of this relationship that I want to deal with today is the glorification of God the Father by Jesus the Son through Jesus’ humanity, His authority and His divinity.

We will start with how John 11 brings Jesus’ humanity into view and how it glorifies God the Father.
• As we go, we will occasionally allude back to our 4 previous lessons from John 11.


John 11:28–39 (ESV) — 28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there [related to our grief lesson]. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”

First, let’s look at how our text puts Jesus’ humanity in view.
• 1) “Where have you laid him?” (vs. 34)
• 2) "Jesus wept." (vs. 35)
• 3) “Take away the stone.” (vs. 39)

I don’t know if John intends us to notice this or not, but I find these three comments striking.
• We have already seen that Jesus supernaturally knew that “Lazarus has died” from vs. 14.
• And then in vs. 25, He makes the astounding claim that “I am the resurrection and the life”.
• But now, it almost appears that His divinity, certainly at the request of the Father, has been “restrained”.

Why does this appear to be the case?
• (1) Jesus asked where Lazarus was, certainly He had it in is power to know exactly where Lazarus was.
    o As we just saw, He knew that Lazarus had died.
• (2) Jesus wept even though He would shortly raise Lazarus from the dead.
    o This seems contrived.
• (3) Finally, already in John, Jesus has performed miracles involving physical, inanimate objects – wine, loaves, etc.
    o But here He asks others to “take away the stone” (vs. 39).
    o Wouldn’t it have been all the more magnificent had He moved the stone away by Himself?

Could there be a reason that Jesus’ humanity is in view?
• In general terms, Paul seems to think so.
• Philippians 2:6–7 (ESV) — 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

I think John is showing us that because Jesus was “born in the likeness of men,” He, in His humanity, was totally dependent on the Father to accomplish His mission.
• He had “emptied himself” for our sake.
• Of this emptying, “Perhaps we could say that he had such knowledge as was necessary for him to accomplish his mission; in other matters he was as ignorant as we are” – Millard Erickson.
• And, “the fact that Jesus found it necessary to pray and depend upon the Father is indication that we must be similarly reliant upon him” – Millard Erickson.
• And Jesus’ “emptying”, His reliance on the Father in His humanity, “is for the glory of God” (vs. 4).

On a theological note, Millard Erickson gives 6 reasons why Jesus being fully human is significant:
• (1) “The atoning death of Jesus can truly avail for us.”
    o “He was one of us, and thus could truly offer a sacrifice on our behalf.”
    o “everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (vs. 26)
• (2) “Jesus can truly sympathize with and intercede for us.”
    o “When we are hungry, weary, lonely, [and grieving] he fully understands, for he has gone through it all himself (Heb. 4:15).”
    o “Jesus wept” (vs. 35)
    o “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3)
• (3) “Jesus manifests the true nature of humanity.”
    o “Jesus has not only told us what perfect humanity is, he has exhibited it.”
    o “though he die, yet shall he live” (vs. 25)
• (4) “Jesus can be our example.”
    o He shows us what “full dependence upon the grace of God” entails and the power it has.
    o “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble” (vs. 9)
• (5) “Human nature is good.”
    o “When we tend toward asceticism, regarding human nature, and particularly physical nature, as somehow inherently evil or at least inferior to the spiritual and immaterial, the fact that Jesus took upon himself our full human nature is a reminder that to be human is not evil, it is good.”
    o “deeply moved” and “greatly troubled” (vs. 33)
• (6) “God is not totally transcendent.”
    o Deism is not an option.
    o God is with us.
    o “she went and met him” (vs. 20)

So we have seen why John may have wanted us to notice Jesus’ humanity in John 11.
• Now, let us move on to Jesus’ authority.


John 11:40–42 (ESV) — 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 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.

Our text certainly puts Jesus’ authority in view.
• 1) “Father, I thank you that you have heard me…that they may believe that you sent me.”
• With these words Jesus is acknowledging publicly before the crowd that what He is about to do is under the authority and power of God the Father.

Could there be a reason that John brought Jesus’ authority into view?
• Elijah expresses precisely the reason that John, and thus Jesus, would do so.
• In fact, the sentiment expressed by Jesus here, many believe, purposely echoes the words of Elijah in 1 Kings.
• 1 Kings 18:37 (ESV) — 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
    o “Many…believed in Him” (vs. 45)

What this means is that the ensuing miraculous event was not the primary focus in Jesus’ mind.
• But rather, that we would recognize in Christ the power and authority of the Father working through Him and believe in Him.
• That the Father was the source of Jesus’ glory and authority was so primary in His mind that John tells us Jesus “said this on account of the people standing around” (vs. 42).
• And in the “rightness” of this relationship, Jesus could be certain that those who believe in Him “would see the glory of God” (vs. 40) in His actions and words.
• Kostenberger puts it like this, “Jesus’ focus is not on the ensuing miracle but on the revelation of God’s glory (and thus his own messianic calling) in and through it”.

This is the Father’s Jesus that we have talked so much about.
• John 5:19-21 (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. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

All that Jesus said and did was at the direction of and under the authority of God the Father – including giving life.
• And this ensured that whether Jesus’ submission was as “Son of God” to Father or “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45) to Father, it was the Father who was glorified.
• So Jesus’ reliance on the Father for His authority “is for the glory of God” (vs. 4).

So, now we have seen how Jesus used both His humanity and His authority “for the glory of God” (vs. 4).
• We now need to see how John 11 reveals Jesus’ divinity.


John 11:43-44 (ESV) — 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.

Obviously, our 2 verses have Jesus’ divinity in view.
• 1) “Lazarus, come out” (vs. 43)
• 2) “Unbind him, and let him go.” (vs. 44)

Like with Jesus’ humanity and His authority, could there be a reason for John to bring Jesus’ divinity into view?
• Jesus had just told Martha that “I am the resurrection and the life” (vs. 25).
• And now having made sure all knew the authority under which He was operating, the Word of God spoke and even the dead obeyed Him.
• Lazarus, who had been dead for 4 days, and whose body had already begun to decay, walked out of the tomb.
• And at the command and authority of Jesus, was unbound and let go – clearly this was both in a literal and spiritual sense.
• For these reasons, we can see that Jesus’ display of His divinity to raise Lazarus from death “is for the glory of God” (vs. 4).
    o As we have said, people believed as a result.

Additionally, on a theological note, Millard Erickson gives 4 reasons why Jesus being fully divine is significant:
• (1) “We can have real knowledge of God.”
    o Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
    o To, “know what the love of God, the holiness of God, the power of God are like, we need only look at Christ.”
    o “you would see the glory of God” (vs. 40)
• (2) “Redemption is available to us.”
    o “The death of Christ is sufficient for all sinners who have ever lived, for it was not merely a finite human, but an infinite God who died.”
    o “He, the Life, the Giver and Sustainer of life, who did not have to die, died.”
    o “I am the resurrection and the life” (vs. 25)
• (3) “God and humanity have been reunited.”
    o “It was not an angel or a human who came from God to the human race, but God himself crossed the chasm created by sin.”
    o “Where have you laid him?” (vs. 34) and “Lazarus, come out” (vs. 43)
• (4) “Worship of Christ is appropriate.”
    o “He is as deserving of our praise, adoration, and obedience as is the Father.”
    o “you are the Christ, the Son of God” (vs. 27)
    o “she fell at his feet” (vs. 32)

Finally, it seems to me that John was purposely bringing our attention to one of the most profound paradoxes in Scripture.
• Paul put it like this; Colossians 2:9 (ESV) — 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,
• John had shown us that Jesus was fully human, and fully divine.
• This paradox, one that skeptics call a contradiction that cannot be reconciled, was one that John did not shy away from highlighting.
• And even though this human/divine nature of Christ is, “one of the most difficult of all theological problems, ranking with the Trinity and the relationship of human free will and divine sovereignty” – Millard Erikson.
• It is to be celebrated and embraced and not ignored.
• And as with the resurrection, the nature of the Messiah in the Kingdom of God was unlike anything the Jews had expected.
• Yet this paradox and how it played out in John 11 was also “for the glory of God” (vs. 4).

So John has shown us that Jesus glorified God in John 11 in the context of His humanity, His authority, and His divinity and in the mystery of the union between humanity and divinity.
How are we to emulate that?

Lessons for Us:
• We are capable of glorifying God in our humanity.
    o As we live dependent on God.
• We are capable of glorifying God by subjugating ourselves to His authority.
    o As we serve God.
• We can glorify God by pointing others to His divinity.
    o As we evangelize for and worship God.