“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.” (John 12:27-30)
Jesus did not view His impending death on the cross with a stoicism or a passive indifference. Rather, His soul was troubled. The word troubled (ταράσσω; tarasso) means to experience great mental distress. It also means to have acute emotional distress. Why did Jesus say that He was greatly troubled in His mind and emotions?
John Calvin comments that, “This statement appears at first to differ widely from the preceding discourse. He (Jesus) has displayed extraordinary courage and magnanimity by exhorting His disciples not only to suffer death but willingly and cheerfully to desire it, whenever it is necessary.” However, Calvin continues by stating that it was necessary for our salvation that Jesus experience such feelings of apprehension.
Calvin explains, “In His death we ought chiefly to consider His (Christ’s) atonement by which He appeased the wrath and curse of God, which He could not have done without taking upon Himself our guilt. The death which he underwent must therefore have been full of horror, because he could not render satisfaction for us, without feeling, in his own experience, the dreadful judgment of God; and hence we come to know more fully the enormity of sin, for which the heavenly Father exacted so dreadful a punishment from His only-begotten Son. Let us therefore know, that death was not a sport and amusement to Christ, but that He endured the severest of torments on our account.”
It should be obvious to students of Scripture that Jesus’ words in today’s text mirror His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46). In neither setting does Jesus demand rescue from the cross but rather prays that the cup of God the Father’s wrath for sinners pass Him by. Ultimately, Jesus resolves to do His Father’s will (Mark 14:36) and thereby glorify Him.
Today’s text indicates “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.”
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “Christ, recognizing His purpose in coming to die and that the glorification of His Father’s name is tied to His own obedience, then prays for the Father to be glorified. The Father then responds audibly that He will glorify His name (John 12:28). He is speaking of His Son’s atoning death. The Father will be glorified because the Son has sought His glory (7:18), and in turn, the Son will be glorified by the Father for doing the Father’s will (8:50, 54). Jesus tells the crowd that the voice is for their benefit (12:29–30). When God speaks from heaven, it signals a new movement in the history of salvation; for example, He spoke from heaven at Sinai to inaugurate the old covenant (Ex. 19:1–20:21; Heb. 12:18–21). Speaking again just before the crucifixion, God reveals that the cross will mark a new era in His dealings with His people, assuring them of their salvation.”
God goes above and beyond the so-called “call of duty” to reveal Himself to the world. He also reveals Himself in His Word to the church. May we, as believers in Christ, resolve to listen and take to heart what we hear and understand.
Soli deo Gloria!