Friday, March 13, 2015

Trusting in the Tempest (John 12:27-28)

““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. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”” (John 12:27–28, ESV)

After speaking about His need to lay down His life for the salvation of many, Jesus spoke about how He felt inside at that moment. He said, “Now is My soul troubled.” This term troubled is not a mild disturbance, but can be most equated to a strong stirring or agitation. Some have even said that it was like have a riot going on inside. What Jesus was about to do was to satisfy the wrath of God by taking on the sins of the world.

Man’s condition was truly ugly and his need was extremely great. What Jesus was about to do was of such an extreme nature that He would even say on the cross, “”Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”” (Matthew 27:46, ESV) It was going to be at that moment that the Son took on the full wrath of the Father as He gave up His life for the sins of man. While I do not pretend to understand how even for a moment the infinite, eternal Son of God could feel this separation, I can imagine how the Son of Man would know it at its most extreme intensity. The Father had sent the Son to do this great and horrendous thing in order to bring about the greatest gift that man could ever be given—payment in full for all of his sins.

Jesus knew this time was coming, and being in the last week He felt even more strongly the great burden. This resulted in His soul becoming troubled in a great way. We don’t know for certain why He spoke to the Father with questions. It may have been just to restate the obvious conclusion that there was no other option, or it may have been for some other reason. I can only speculate. But in my speculation I imagine the Son saying to the Father, “What shall I say? Having gone so far and followed the plan so closely are We to change it now? Not a chance.” This is and has been the settled plan. It has not change since it was established and prophesied over and over again throughout time. This is what man had been told will happen, and this is what must happen. Jesus went on to say, “But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” His confidence in the Father would not be shaken by the pressing burden lying ahead. It was at this moment when the plan was reaffirmed and Jesus acknowledged His willingness to carry it through to its completion. Jesus had said all along that He came to do the will of the Father that the Father might be glorified, and He restates that purpose again. The hour for its completion had come and Jesus said, “Father, glorify your name.”

Imagine being Philip or Peter or a member of the crowd who observed this interaction between Jesus and God the Father. There they stood as He cried out to heaven in apparent anguish, saying the things that were recorded for us. They stood there watching a one-sided conversation and must have wondered greatly about what was going on before them. They must have known that it was a serious issue that He was dealing with. But not really knowing why He had come to Jerusalem they surely had no idea what He was so troubled over. They had just seen the crowd sing praises to Him as they waived palm leaves, and now He stood before them obviously disturbed.

When Jesus finished speaking the Father responded. We read that as He was praying that God would be glorified by His death, burial, and resurrection, the Father answered. John records for us, “Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”” This is only the third time in Jesus’ ministry that we have recorded for us that a voice was heard from heaven. The first was at His baptism when it was heard, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”” (Matthew 3:17, ESV) The other was at His transfiguration which was witnessed by Peter, James, and John. We read about this in Matthew 17:5, “He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” (Matthew 17:5, ESV)

The first two times that the Father spoke from heaven the same words were used, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” At the second one the words “listen to Him” were added. Now Jesus had followed the will of the Father and it was time for Their plan to be completed and the words from heaven affirmed that His name had indeed had been glorified and it will be glorified again. I had to read and reread the passage to see what it was that was going to be glorified. Jesus had prayed, “Father, glorify your name,” and the Father responded the He has and He will again. The obedience of the Son was bringing glory to the name of the Father.

There are so many times in our lives when we have challenges before us that we really don’t want to tackle. Sometimes we actually don’t have to tackle them as there is another more appropriate option, but this is not generally the case. These trials come and we have to decide how we are going to proceed through them. The example of Jesus was that He was committed to doing what God had intended, knowing that it was going to come at a great cost and with intense pain. He knew that He had to do this, and He also knew was that this was what the Father wanted. He committed to doing the will of God, entrusting Himself to Him, and praying that His name would be glorified in the process.

How we handle trials tells a great deal about who we trust. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that we will all encounter various trials, tests, and temptations. This is common to all men. There is no way around it. But the verse also tells us that with every single one of those that God is faithful to limit those things to the ability that He gives us to endure them as we trust Him to bring us out on the other side. The key is not the size or intensity of the trial, but the faithfulness of God. Jesus knew this and He knew He could complete the plan because He and the Father are One. There is no one who knows the faithfulness of God the Father more completely than God the Son. He could trust Him and in Christ we can also.

“No temptation [test, trial] has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation [test, trial] He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV)

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