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70. "Now is my soul troubled"
70. "Now is my soul troubled"
Ministry III (Sermon to Multitude, Sermons in parables, Woe to scribes , Talents etc)

70. “Now is my soul troubled”

John 12, 20-36; 42-50. A.D. 30. Age 33. Jerusalem, in the Temple.
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Now is my soul troubled…. Greeks came up to worship at the feast: the same came to Philip, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

Philip and Andrew tell Jesus. Jesus answered them, saying,

The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in his world shall keep it unto life eternal.

If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? but for this cause came I unto this hour.

Father, glorify thy name.

Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

The people that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake.

Jesus said,

This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

This he said, signifying what death he should die.

The people answered, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said,

Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.

¶Among the chief rulers many believed on Jesus; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

¶Jesus cried and said,

He that believeth on me believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what Ishould speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever 1 speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

Scripture: John 12:20-26

Meditation 1 of 2: 

How can we meet Jesus in our lives and introduce him to others who are searching for him? John tells us that some Greek travelers who came to Jerusalem for the Passover wanted to meet Jesus. They were not Jews, but were devout seekers of God.  It was not unusual for Greeks to travel the then known world.  Greeks loved to journey and discover new things.  When these Greeks heard of Jesus, they wanted to meet him personally, but didn’t know how to approach him.  So they did something a Greek would feel comfortable doing.  They found a sympathetic looking insider named Philip, a disciple of Jesus whose name happened to be a Greek name, and asked him how they could meet with Jesus.  Philip surprisingly didn’t know what to say.  Andrew fortunately stepped in and personally introduced these foreigners to Jesus. How can we help people discover the Lord Jesus today? One of the best ways to introduce people to the Lord is to invite them to “come and see” the Lord present among his people when they gather for prayer, bible study, and the “breaking of the bread” at the Lord’s Table. 

Jesus’ response to giving an audience to these Greek visitors points to the reason why he came to Jerusalem at this Passover Feast.  Jesus knew that this was his “hour” — the time of fulfillment when he would be glorified through his suffering and death on the cross.  John in his gospel account points out that is was not only the Jews who were seeking the Messiah, but foreigners as well.  Jesus came to offer his life as an atoning sacrifice not only for the chosen people of Israel, but for all nations as well.

Jesus told his disciples a short parable about the nature of seeds to explain the spiritual significance of death and rebirth.   His audience, including many who were rural folk in Palestine, could easily understand the principle of new life from nature.  Seeds cannot produce new life by themselves.  They must first be planted in the earth before they can grow and produce fruit.  What is the spiritual analogy which Jesus alludes to here?  Is this, perhaps, a veiled reference to his own impending death on the cross and resurrection?  Or does he have another kind of “death and rebirth” in mind for his disciples?  Jesus, no doubt, had both meanings in mind for his disciples.  The image of the grain of wheat dying in the earth in order to grow and bear a harvest can be seen as a metaphor of Jesus’ own death and burial in the tomb and his resurrection.  Jesus knew that the only way to victory over the power of sin and death was through the cross.  Jesus reversed the curse of our first parents’ disobedience through his obedience to the Father’s will — his willingness to go to the cross to pay the just penalty for our sins and to defeat death once and for all.  His obedience and death on the cross obtain for us freedom and new life in the Holy Spirit.  His cross frees us from the tyranny of sin and death and shows us the way of perfect love. 
  
If we want to experience the new life which Jesus offers, then the outer shell of our old, fallen nature, must be broken and put to death. In Baptism our “old nature” enslaved by sin is buried with Christ and we rise as a “new creation” in Christ.  This process of death to the “old fallen self” is both a one-time event, such as baptism, and a daily, on-going cycle in which God buries us more deeply into Jesus’ death to sin so we might rise anew and bear fruit for God. There is a great paradox here.  Death leads to life.  When we “die” to our selves, we “rise” to new life in Jesus Christ.

What does it mean to “die” to oneself?  It certainly means that what is contrary to God’s will must be “crucified” or “put to death”.  God gives us grace to say “yes” to his will and to reject whatever is contrary to his loving plan for our lives.  Jesus also promises that we will bear much “fruit” for him, if we choose to deny ourselves for his sake.  Jesus used forceful language to describe the kind of self-denial he had in mind for his disciples.  What did he mean when he said that one must hate himself?  The expression to hate something often meant to prefer less.  Jesus says that nothing should get in the way of our preferring him and the will of our Father in heaven.  Our hope is in Paul’s reminder that “What is sown in the earth is subject to decay, what rises is incorruptible” (1 Cor. 15:42).  Do you hope in the Lord and follow joyfully the path he has chosen for you?

“Lord, let me be wheat sown in the earth, to be harvested for you.  I want to follow wherever you lead me.  Give me fresh hope and joy in serving you all the days of my life.”

Scripture: John 12:27-43

Meditation 2 of 2:

 In Jesus’ last public discourse shortly before the time of Passover and his impending betrayal and death on a cross, Jesus spoke openly of his anguish of soul. Unlike the other Gospel accounts, John’s gospel does not describe Jesus’ agony in the Garden on the eve of his sacrifice.  But here John does describe Jesus’ emotional and spiritual anguish as his “hour” approaches.  What is this inner struggle which Jesus underwent as he anticipates his hour of trial and confrontation with those who sought to destroy him? It certainly would be a natural reaction for anyone to turn away from suffering and humiliation. Jesus knew that he could have chosen to avoid the cross and the scandal and shame it would have brought him.  That is why he posed the question: “Father, save me from this hour?” Jesus courageously chose to suffer and die, not only in obedience to his Father, but for our sake and for our salvation.  He freely embraced the cross without any resentment or self-pity, because he knew that the cross would bring glory to his Father and victory for us.

It is at this precise moment of Jesus’ total acceptance of the cross that the Father speaks audibly for all to hear.  The Father confirms that Jesus’ hour of exaltation will indeed bring glory to God’s name. The gospels tell us that the voice of God was present at all the decisive moments of Jesus life.  It came at his baptism at the Jordan River when Jesus began his public ministry (Mark 1:11).  And it came at the Mount of Transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus in the presence of three disciples, after Jesus had told his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and lay down his life for their sake (Luke 9:23-31).

On this occasion Jesus describes his approaching “hour” as both a “judgment of this world” and his “being lifted up from the earth”. The judgment Jesus had in mind here is the “driving out” of Satan as the ruler of the earth. Jesus saw the cross as defeat for Satan who sought to rule humankind enslaved by sin and the fear of death. His cross not only wins pardon from guilt but freedom to live a new way of love according to God’s wisdom and the promise of eternal life.

What did Jesus mean when he said he would “draw all people” to himself as he is lifted up from the earth (John 12:32)? This is the third occasion in the Gospel of John, when Jesus spoke of his being lifted up (see John 3:14-15 and 8:28).  John sees Jesus “being lifted up” as a sign of triumph over his enemies and his enthronement in glory as true King, not only of Israel, but the whole world which has been under the rule of Satan. When Jesus spoke with Nicodemus (John 3:14), he likened his being “lifted up” with Moses lifting up the bronze serpent in the wilderness. This uplifted bronze emblem brought healing to the Israelites poisoned by the deadly sting of vipers because of their rebellion and disobedience (see Numbers 21:9).  Now when people see what Jesus accomplished on his cross and recognize the great victory he won for them, then they will receive full healing, pardon, and reconcilation with God.

John the Evangelist saw the cross not as shame and defeat for Jesus, but as a throne of glory from which Jesus triumphed over sin, Satan, and death itself. Do you believe in the power of Jesus’ cross?

“Lord, by your cross you have redeemed the world.  May I always have the courage to embrace your will for my life. Though it may produce a cross on earth for me; it will surely produce a crown in heaven that will last forever”. 

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