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.”
An old native American proverb goes something like this: Whatever a man is most filled with is what spills over when he is bumped. The concept behind this wise saying is that whatever is most in one’s heart is what will be on display when things get difficult. Granting the notion that this concept is true, we would expect that we can learn what was of great importance to Jesus when he faced his toughest moment. And John 12:27-28 illustrates for us Jesus’ response to the horrific time that faced him.
IN John 12:27-28, we are allowed a glimpse into the prayer time of Jesus. Clearly, God wants us to see what is on Jesus’ heart as he looks toward the crucifixion. For 11 chapters, Jesus has continually said that his “hour” had not yet come. Now, the “hour” is at hand. That “hour” is the time when the Son of God would sacrifice his own life in order to pay for the sins of those whom God would redeem.
So, what was on Jesus’ heart at this crucial moment? He clearly knew that what was to come would be awful. His soul was troubled. But he would not shrink back from the coming events. Why? Because something was more on Jesus’ heart than his own personal comfort—more than even the comfort of avoiding the infinite wrath of an infinitely holy God. Jesus was willing to suffer all the horror of the cross and the wrath of God over the sins of humanity (even though Jesus committed no sin) for one purpose. And, before we get too self-centered, let me make it absolutely clear that you and I were not that purpose. God loves us, no doubt, but we are not the central reason that Jesus willingly walked to the cross. The purpose is spelled out for us in verse 28.
Jesus said that it was for “this purpose” that he would go to the cross, the very purpose he came into the world to begin with. The purpose of Jesus and the Father was that God would be glorified. Jesus told the Father, “Father, glorify your name.” Jesus Christ died, first and foremost, for the purpose of bringing glory to the name of the Father.
Now, how is it that Jesus’ death glorified the Father? Take some time on your own to read through the book of Romans, and you will find the answer to that question. In Romans 3:23-ff, we see that Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrates that God is just, even just when he forgives the sins of people like you and me. In Romans 5:8, we see that Jesus’ death demonstrates God’s glorious love. The end of Romans 11 reminds us that all things are for God’s glory, which includes all that Jesus ever did. Thus, there is no true doubt that God’s glory is the central event and the central purpose of the cross.
“Why,” one might ask, “is this good news for me?” Taking yourself out of the position of being the central purpose of the cross is a bit painful. Old gospel songs declaring things like, “When he was on the cross, I was on his mind,” lose their theological accuracy when we see that God’s glory was primary in the focus of Jesus. And, it hurts a bit to see that it was not, after all, completely about “me.” But, there is something that is wonderful for us in the fact that the glory of God was at the center of the cross, magnified for all the world to see during the most important, most earth-shattering moment in human history.
Why is it good that the glory of God is the central purpose of the cross? God created us for a purpose: to display and enjoy his glory. Nothing will ever truly make us happy, nothing will truly satisfy our deepest soul longings except for one thing—the thing for which we were created. So, when God makes the cross about his glory, he makes the cross about the only thing that will truly give us joy and satisfaction in the deepest part of our being. The cross is for God’s glory, and that actually, when we grasp it, has the power to satisfy our souls more than any other truth in the world.
How can we make the fact that the cross is about the glory of God something we love? The only way that this truth will truly make our hearts happy is when our hearts are truly devoted to the glory of God. When our hearts are busily chasing after idols such as fame, success, money, earthly happiness, sexual gratification, etc., our hearts will not see the beauty of the fact that the cross is a bout God’s glory. But, when our hearts delight in God, our hearts will be fully satisfied when they see that God’s glory is depicted for all to see on the cross of Calvary (Psalm 37:4). Thus, for us to truly have the deepest happiness possible, we have to train our hearts to seek out and rejoice in the glory of God. As we learn to seek the glory of God, we will find our hearts truly satisfied by the glory of God. As our hearts are satisfied by the glory of God, our hearts will truly learn to rejoice in the truth that the cross, while demonstrating God’s love for us, is centrally about the glory of the Almighty.
So, make it a goal of yours to practice loving the glory of God. Look into God’s word to see his glory. Pray that God will make your soul happy by demonstrating to you his glory. Sing of God’s glory, and find the joy that can only come by doing what you were created to do. Read Christian authors who are focused on the glory of God, and let their writings urge you toward the glory of God (C.J. Mahaney, John Piper, John MacArthur, and Jonathon Edwards are all a good start). Do whatever you have to do to seek your own soul’s satisfaction in the one place that can truly offer that satisfaction, the magnificent glory of the Almighty.