Wednesday in the Twenty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

John 12:20-36a

What Jesus Considered His Glory

We are now in the last week of our Lord’s life on earth.  All four gospels record the drama and significance of those last few days so that we may know their meaning.  As usual, John records sayings of Jesus that the others do not, and here is one such occasion of those precious words.  It is hard to tell on what day of the week, but it appears to be early, maybe Monday.  The passage begins with some “Greeks” coming to Philip wishing to see Jesus, and then Philip and Andrew informing Jesus of their request.  We never read of what actually happened with the meeting; John is more interested in what Jesus says because of the request: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  It would seem that these Greeks represent the coming of the Gentiles, or the nations, to the Lord.  And so now must his purpose for coming to earth in the flesh reach its consummation on the cross so that these may be gathered into his Church.

And it is at this place that we learn from our Lord, not just why he came, but even more, what he considered his glory.  The grain of wheat that falls into the earth must die to bear fruit, and only the one who dies to the world can live unto God.  And then our Lord admits that his soul is troubled.  How could it not be given the agony which awaited him?  But then he adds, “And what shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour?’  But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”  And then he adds those words so full of submission and majesty, “Father, glorify your name.”  And the Father answers back, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

It is a glorious scene, is it not?  And yet in the midst of all of this glory, is the recognition that the glory of which Christ speaks is the glory of the cross.  The supreme glory of Almighty God is that His Son be lifted up – on a cross.  And this is exactly how the people understood it.  This is why they respond in disbelief, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever.  How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up?”  They had reason to say this (2 Samuel 7:13; Psalm 61:6-7; 89:3-4, 35-37; Isaiah 9:7).  But they only knew of those passages which speak of Christ’s exaltation and not those which speak of the Christ’s antecedent humiliation (Isaiah 53).  And it is precisely this humiliation which he considers his glory.  And it is this about the gospel, about our God, that is so offensive to human nature: God coming in the flesh, God condemned as a criminal; God dying on a cross.  “We preach Christ crucified,” Paul said (1 Corinthians 1:20-24).  This is God’s glory, and if we shall be his followers, the cross shall be our glory as well.

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