Letters to the Prison - Week 142

Hello, everyone.  We’re continuing our study of John.  If you need a Bible, ask for one!  Jesus has challenged his listeners –and us—to follow and serve him.  Doing so honors God the Father, according to Jesus.  And then, something profound happens.  Look what Jesus says:
  • "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.-John 12:27

As always, there is a lot to observe in what Jesus says, and of course we can’t cover it all here.  But what is Jesus saying about himself here?  That’s the focus of our study.  If the main question of everyone’s life is “is Jesus who he says he is?” and a natural follow-up to that question is “who does Jesus say he is?” what does this verse say in answer to those questions?  First, Jesus again claims that God is his Father.  He does this naturally and automatically… almost casually.  The hour, we know, is the hour of his crucifixion.  It is not a literal hour, but a brief span of time.  Previously, his “hour had not yet come” (John 7:30; 8:20), but now it has… and Jesus’ soul is troubled about it.  Why?  Jesus has already (amazingly) claimed that he has the authority to lay his life down and take it up again (John 10:17-18).  Why should the hour of his death trouble him?  Is he concerned about the agony of actually dying?  Any other human would be…  and Jesus, being the Son of Man –both fully God and fully man, would very likely (in his humanity) not be looking forward to an agonizing death by the most brutal method ever conceived.  So, that might make sense.  But there’s more to it than that.  The “trouble” Jesus’ soul is experiencing has to do with why he is coming to this hour in the first place:  To take on the sin of all people for all time and suffer God’s eternal wrath against that sin.  This is a mind-blowing concept.  This is the purpose for which Jesus has “come to this hour.”  It is a profound and amazing purpose.

And yet there is an even greater purpose for “this hour.”  Jesus clarifies:
  • Father, glorify your name.” -John 12:28a

This, friends, is the ultimate purpose for everything Jesus ever does.  It’s worth repeating:  Everything Jesus thinks, says, and does is for the purpose of glorifying God.  Everything.  Jesus might be coming to this hour of agony and death on a cross for the purpose of atoning for the sins of all people… including us…  because he loves us…  it’s true.  But Jesus’ greater purpose –indeed, his greatest purpose-- is to glorify God.  Therefore, if we are to follow and serve Jesus, as he has called and challenged us to do, our greatest purpose also is to glorify God.  Today, our culture is so entirely focused on identity… who we regard ourselves to be.  Here we see that Jesus’ identity is entirely bound up in his purpose –to glorify God the Father.  Nothing else matters.  And this purpose and activity is entirely acceptable to God.  We know this because God responds immediately:
  • “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”  -John 12:28b

So, God himself speaks –audibly—in Jerusalem… in the presence of Jesus and in response to his request for God’s name to be glorified.  Jesus hasn’t asked for mercy… or for another way out… or for deliverance.  He has asked according to his purpose and God responds.  The people who hear this will react, too.  We’ll look at that next week.  Meanwhile, it is worth considering:  What is our greatest purpose?  This is a huge question and worth considering carefully.  We love you!

Dean A.

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