Scripture: “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.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
John 12:27-36a ESV [Click here to read the entire chapter.]
Observation: Recapping Friday’s Daily Focus, John tells his audience that some Greeks (most likely proselytes, i.e., converts to Judaism) pilgrimaged to Jerusalem for this monumental feast of Passover. Approaching Philip, the Greeks request a meeting with Jesus. Philip relays the message to Andrew, and the two go and tell Jesus. While Jesus does not directly respond to the Greeks’ request, he implies he does not have time to engage with them. Instead, employing the metaphor of a grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying, only to give seed to new life that bears much fruit, Jesus informs the two that his hour has come for glorification (i.e., crucifixion and resurrection). Jesus then applies this symbolism to all who would follow him, for the journey entails much loss in this life to gain eternal life. And the path is one of servitude to Christ.
Today’s passage continues Jesus’ dialogue with Philip and Andrew with a crowd gathered around them. Jesus self-discloses that his soul is troubled, yet he will not selfishly ask his Father to rescue him from the suffering he will soon face. Instead, he petitions his Father’s glory. At this point, his Father booms from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (v.28). Hearing what sounded like thunder, the crowd conjectures whether an angel spoke to Jesus or if thunder had rumbled. Jesus clarifies that the voice they heard served to benefit them and that judgment is looming against the devil and the world of unbelievers. He then cryptically foretells his death and resurrection and the resulting salvation of his elect.
Voices from the crowd then speak out, questioning Jesus regarding his allusion to death when Scripture says that the Messiah is eternal. And they further challenge Jesus regarding his self-identity as the lifted-up Son of Man. But Jesus does not directly answer their question. Instead, he states that the light (himself) will soon disappear and challenges them to walk in its illumination while it lasts, lest darkness overwhelm them and cause them to grope through life weighted by sin. So believe in the light and receive the Father’s gift of adoption as children of light.
Takeaway: Here, we see Jesus’ fully human nature as he wrestles with the culmination of his redemptive mission through his substitutionary death—fully aware of the agony that awaits him. Nevertheless, his ultimate focus is not on the looming unfathomable suffering but on glorifying his Father. So his loving and gracious Father responds with the third affirmation of their divine relationship. Elsewhere, we read of a similar affirmation at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:21-22) and transfiguration (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35), all three being integral moments of preparation during his three-plus-year mission.
Regarding judgment, Satan and his followers will not escape the consequences of their rebellion against God, for the cross and the empty tomb will glorify the Father, shout victory for Christ and all who put their faith in him, and conversely spell defeat for the devil and those who serve him. How so? As theologian Merrill Tenney succinctly explains, “Satan was motivated by self-will; Jesus, by the will of the Father. Satan’s power brought destruction and death; Jesus’ power imparted renewal and life” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John, pp.130–131).
Lastly, Jesus sounds the alarm of urgency. Those listening must decide whether they trust the Light of the World, for it is more than a decision. It is an action that entails walking in the light. We see this relationship of trust manifested in daily living as expressed earlier when Jesus declares he is the Light of the World. Here, Jesus tells the crowd they must follow him to possess the light of life (John 8:12). John writes again of this reality in the opening remarks of his first epistle, where he assures his readers that if they walk in the light, they will have fellowship with one another and receive the cleansing of all sins through Christ’s shed blood (1 John 1:7). Finally, as our God story comes to its glorious end, John reveals that the Lamb of God is the lamp that will light the way by which the nations will walk (Revelation 21:23-24).
Our takeaway? While Satan still meddles in our lives using deception and temptation, attempting to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), the Light that dwells in us is infinitesimally greater than Satan (1 John 4:4). So our part is to do life by the light of the Son—to walk in obedience to the will of his Father by bringing every aspect of our beings into his Son’s light. There, we submit to the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit, who graciously exposes and convicts us of sin patterns and lovingly deepens our understanding of God’s grace and forgiveness. Indeed, as Jesus’ blood ransomed us from our death sentence, his Holy Spirit rescues us from besetting sins and frees us to seek his Father’s will. So do life by the Light.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who always walked by your light and resultantly gave his life as a ransom to bring us new life in him. We confess, though, that we struggle to walk in his light because we want to do life our way. So would you please help us do life by the light: submitting to the Holy Spirit’s scrutiny and cooperating with your Holy Spirit to align with your will? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling