Jesus demonstrated His deity by raising Lazarus from the dead. Despite Jesus’ greatness, the Jewish leadership sought to destroy Him. Taken together, statements from the Psalms, Isaiah, and Ezekiel portrayed the Messiah as One who was powerful over life and death yet rejected by His people—and the events of John 11-12 brought the psalmist and two of Israel’s prophets together in concert, proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah.
(1) In John 11:25, Jesus proclaimed that He was the resurrection and the life, describing Himself as the agent of regeneration in accord with Ezek 37:1-14. Ezekiel prophesied of the Lord’s grace that would come upon His people to forgive their sins and awaken them to new spiritual life. The Lord brought Ezekiel to a valley filled with dry bones and commanded him to prophesy to the bones that they would come alive by his word. While Ezekiel spoke, the bones were animated with tissue. When the prophet commanded the four winds to give breath to the bodies, the bodies came to life. The Lord told Ezekiel that He was going to open graves so the dead of Israel would come out alive. He said, “You will know that I am the LORD, My people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them” (Ezek 37:13). When Jesus learned that His friend Lazarus had died, He wept (John 11:35). But this was more than an emotional moment for Jesus. If Jesus were merely filled with compassion for His friend, He could have healed Lazarus from a distance. The resurrection of Lazarus is an illustration of Jesus’ sovereignty to give life. When Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life” in John 11:25, He clarified that He was capable of what the Lord proclaimed of Himself in Ezek 37:13.
(2) In John 12:13, the crowds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem by proclaiming Ps 118:25-26. Psalm 118 portrayed the psalmist’s thanks to the Lord for empowering His people to victory over their foes. The psalmist described the celebration that took place in Jerusalem after the gates of the Lord’s city were opened wide (Ps 118:19-20). Though the nations had rejected Israel, the Lord chose to build His kingdom through Israel, His cornerstone (Ps 118:22-23). The psalmist described God alone as the Savior of His people. It was thus altogether right for the psalmist to say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD” (Ps 118:26), heralding God’s salvation. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds rejoiced (John 12:12-19). To Jesus, the crowds exclaimed Ps 118:26, waving palm branches in their hands (Matt 21:8-9//Mark 11:8-10//Luke 19:36-38//John 12:13) and proclaiming Jesus the King of Israel.
(3) In John 12:15, John interpreted Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey as a fulfillment of Zech 9:9. Zechariah proclaimed that God wanted the hearts of His people and he urged the returned exiles to repent. The prophet announced that the Lord would avenge the sufferings of His people by judging their foes and setting a mighty king over Israel. In Zech 9:9, Zechariah said, “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, Zechariah’s prophecy was realized (Matt 21:5//John 12:15). But the disciples did not connect Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem with Zech 9:9 until after Jesus was glorified (John 12:16), underscoring Jesus’ death and resurrection as the interpretive peak upon which the New Testament writers understood the Old Testament.
(4) In John 12:37-41, John fused Isa 53:1 and 6:10 to explain why so many had rejected Jesus despite the signs He did before them. In Isaiah 53, the prophet described the ironic state of the Lord’s servant. He was God’s chosen, wise leader but He was not attractive in appearance and was rejected by the people. So, when the people rejected the Lord’s Servant they were rejecting the One through whom God had willed to reveal His power (Isa 53:1). John noted the connection between Isa 53:1 and 6:10. Though God revealed Himself through Jesus, through Jesus’ ministry God blinded the hearts of many of the Jewish people so that they would not believe. Isaiah’s ministry experience in Isa 6:10 anticipated Jesus’ ministry. In this way, Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and prophesied of Him (John 12:41).