But Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
cradle, so before his death the Greeks came from the West unto his cross.
I. THERE WAS IN THE HISTORY OF IMMANUEL A CRISIS OF SUFFERING.
1. This was a fixed, a certain, an expected hour. If our Lord's birth was in "the fullness of time," it is reasonable to believe the same to have been the case with his death. Hitherto Jesus had said, "My hour is not yet come;" henceforth his language was, "My hour is at hand, is near, is come." He was prepared for it, and for all it might bring.
2. This was a solemn and momentous hour. There are great and memorable hours in the history of nations - as when a great act passes the legislature; when a mighty revolution is accomplished; when slavery ceases; when, after a long war, peace is concluded; when some momentous decision upon national policy is formed. So this approaching hour in the Savior's life was that for which all others had prepared, which had been foretold, expected, and waited for.
3. This was the hour of the apparent success of Christ's foes. The conspiracy was successful; the innocent was condemned; seemingly the work of Christ was brought to a close and proved a failure.
4. This was the hour of humiliation and of woe. Jesus alone could fully appreciate the magnitude of the crisis, the mysterious import of the great transaction. It was the hour of sacrifice and of redemption.
II. THIS CRISIS OF SUFFERING WAS TO CHRIST'S PROPHETIC MIND A CRISIS OF GLORY. He saw not as man sees. Satan appeared victorious; Christ's enemies seemed to have succeeded in their malignant schemes; his disciples and friends seemed overwhelmed with consternation and despair. But Jesus looked beyond the cruel cross to the immortal crown! The hour was at hand when Jesus should receive his personal glorification the Son of man. As the Word, the Son of God, this exalted Being had enjoyed glory with the Father before the world was. But now his humanity was to be glorified. He loved to call himself the Son of man; in this capacity he was about to be raised to immortal majesty.
2. His glory was to be shown as the accepted of the Father in his resurrection from the dead. God raised him from the dead, and gave him glory. In his ascension Jesus Christ was "received up into glory." There was evident humiliation in the cross, and. as evident glory in his exaltation to the throne.
3. His official glory was to be displayed in his kingship and dominion. In heaven he was to receive the homage both of angels and of glorified men; upon earth he was to extend, by his Spirit and by his Word, the empire be had founded by his death.
4. Christ's truest glory was to consist in the salvation of multitudes of the human race by means of his sacrifice and intercession. The highest glory of an earthly monarch consists in the number and loyalty of his subjects. No earthly king has ever exercised a sway so wide, so beneficent, so enduring, as that of Christ. The kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ. All foes shall be put beneath his feet. The inclusion of Jews and Gentiles in the "one new humanity" is a triumph of Christ's spiritual kingship. On his head are many crowns. To an enlightened and spiritual mind there is no proof of royal majesty secured by sacrificial love so convincing as this - the subjugation of human hearts and lives to his moral authority, whose "kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." - T.
The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)
I. THE LORD ENTERS INTO THE DARKNESS OF HIS HOUR AND PROCLAIMS ITS GLORY.
1. "The hour" is the sacred term that marks the Passion as the consummation of the Redeemer's work. He entered the world in the "fulness of time"; He wrought His preparatory work in the "days of the Son of Man"; and now, after ages of waiting had passed into days of fulfilment, the days are compressed into an "hour." From this moment the shadow of the cross throws its sacred gloom upon every incident and word. The Passion has begun, and from that moment went on in its ever-deepening variety of grief, through the indignities of His enemies, the abandonment of His friends, the sense of the world's guilt, to that infinite woe which took from man his curse. It was the first more direct onset since the temptation. It was the beginning of the awful strain on the resources of His lower nature under which He would fain cry "Save me," but that He knows "for this purpose," etc.; the same pressure which caused Him to ask that the cup might pass, a prayer the next moment recalled in the submission of perfect victory.
2. The darkness is not past, but the true light already shines. His first word on entering the dark valley is — "The hour...glorified." His lowest humiliation was His highest dignity. The cross in which His servants gloried He here glories in. In it He beholds the glorification of the Father's attributes (ver. 28), an exhibition of the glory of Divine justice visiting upon sin its penalty, and the glory of the Divine mercy providing salvation for the sinner. To this the Redeemer's final "Lo! I come," there is a sublime response from heaven. For the third time the Father proclaims aloud the secret of His constant complacency in the sacrifice of His Son.
3. The record teaches us two errors we must avoid.(1) We must not by our feeble theories mitigate the sorrow that wrought out our redemption and exchange it into a mere demonstration of such charity and self-sacrifice as man might rival and which could never redeem man's soul.(2) It tells us, too, that the Redeemer was filled with a sense of His own glory and His Father's complacency even while He suffered for our sins. He presented Himself as an oblation for man's sin to manifest the love that provided the propitiation, and to declare the glory of the Divine name in the harmony of its perfections.
II. FROM THE HOUR OF THE PASSION TO THE LIFTING UP ON THE CROSS THE TRANSITION IS OBVIOUS. Here also we perceive the blending, of opposite emotions.
1. St. John has already made us familiar with this expression, which serves the double purpose of signifying the crucifixion and the exaltation. But in the gospels it is used to express the act of man that lifted Jesus to His cross. In the beginning of His ministry, our Lord spoke to Nicodemus of this lifting up; in the middle He told the Jews that they would do it; and now He refers to it at the close. But the cross is the symbol here of His own reproach, "Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree."
2. But while His soul is troubled — and only in His deepest anguish does He mention His soul — Jesus still rejoiced in spirit. On either side is a word of triumph.(1) "The prince of this world is cast out." He had at an earlier time, and in a higher sphere, "beheld Satan as lightning," etc. Now He beholds, as the result of His redeeming death, Satan fall from his power on earth — not, indeed, with the swiftness of lightning, but absolutely and surely.(2) "I will draw all men unto Me" expresses the tranquil assurance that the virtue of His death would draw in due time — when preached in His word and testified by His spirit — all the children of men to Himself.
3. Here also are two lessons that guard our thoughts.(1) The reality of Satan's relation to our sin and the world's redemption. A doctrine of atonement finds acceptance, which rejects the personality of the being to whom our Lord alludes. But in so doing they must reconstruct the entire doctrine of the New Testament, wrest the Saviour's words to their own peril, and undermine the whole economy of redemption, which assumes that Satan is the representative and ruler of the world's wickedness, whose power and law is broken.(2) That through our redemption we are delivered from the reign of sin; that the drawing of Christ is as universal in its influence as the virtue of His atonement; that we may enter into our Master's joy and exult over a vanquished enemy.
III. WE PASS FROM THE HOUR, THROUGH THE LIFTING UP, TO THE SELF-SACRIFICING DEATH WHICH GIVES LIFE TO MULTITUDES. Here again we have two contending emotions.
1. All His allusions to the coming end connect His own loss with our gain, His death with our life. So it is here, only the emblem is the most affecting He ever employed, expressive of the entireness of His surrender, and the absolute connection between His death and the abundant life of His people. What in the similitude of the corn of wheat expresses the deep anguish of this prelude to Gethsemane the Lord does not say. There was a mystery in the anguish of His soul that nothing in the secret of human dying will account for.
2. But the rejoicing of His spirit keeps not silence. He passes immediately to the much fruit that would grow from His death, the example He would set to His saints, and the supreme honour which He and His imitators in the self-renouncing charity of holiness would partake together throughout eternity. Nor is His rejoicing marred by the prospect that His death will not give life to all mankind. And should we be discontented when our Master sees of the travail of His soul and is satisfied?Conclusion:
1. The only word of exhortation that we hear in this solemn hour is, "If any man serve Me, let him follow Me." This is the voice of Him who passes through the garden to the cross. There is no loyalty to the Redeemer which does not share His passion. For Him we must sacrifice our sins, and, in imitation of His last example, must live, and, if need be, die for others.
2. "Where I am," etc.; for a short season in the gloom of sorrow and conflict, but forever in His glory.
3. "If any man serve Me," etc.; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
(W. B. Pope, D. D.)
I. THE HOUR. It stands out from all other hours amid the reminiscences of the past and anticipation of ages to come. Time's stream set in to bear upon it. All prophecy met here. One dispensation after another was introduced and completed in relation to it, and derived all their importance from that relation. It was an hour —
1. Of intense suffering. Who can tell the physical agony? His soul was troubled within a body of sensibility as keen as ours; and what anguish racked His spirit when He was executed as a malefactor and forsaken of His Father!
2. Of triumph. An hour in which He glorified God and God Him; in which all the Divine attributes harmonized as they never had before, and never could again. They received glory which covered all obscurations that had appeared, and which can never be tarnished to eternity.
II. THE SEEMING RELUCTANCE OF CHRIST TO MEET THIS HOUR (ver. 27). His spirit is perplexed, for He was as truly man as God. But wherefore these cries and tears? Because of —
1. The death of ignominy which He, innocence itself, was about to die.
2. The unbelief and ingratitude of the Jews. "He came to His own," etc.
3. The desertion of His disciples, the denial of Peter, the betrayal of Judas.
4. The buffetings of Satan during "the hour and power of darkness."
5. The hiding of the Father's face (Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 27:45, 46). Well might His soul be troubled and say, Father, save Me from this hour — if there is any other way of saving sinners. But God spared not His own Son, and the Son acquiesced.
III. THE GROUNDS ON WHICH HE OVERCAME HIS APPARENT RELUCTANCE. They respect —
1. Himself. He knew that on this hour depended all that He came to do, and this consideration dispelled the cloud human nature raised. He had done too much to allow of His retracting. Why the Babe of Bethlehem if He refused to be the Man of Sorrows? He came to finish the work God gave Him to do.
2. His people. If I would save others I dare not save Myself. If they are to have life I must endure death.
3. His Father. To glorify Him was the design of His coming into the world. "Lo! I come," etc.
IV. BY WHAT MEANS GOD WAS GLORIFIED IN THE WORK OF CHRIST.
1. In the fulfilment of Messianic prophecy. God had in all the introductory announcements of the Redeemer for four thousand years, connected His glory with the completion of redemption by Christ's death as a sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 1:1-3; Luke 2:7-14).
2. The incarnation. "We beheld His glory," etc.
3. The discourses, miracles, and character of Christ.
4. His death, resurrection, and ascension.
5. The spread of the gospel.
6. The resurrection and judgment.
(T. Raffles, LL. D.)1. Christ here displays His broad humanity. Not "Son of David." The Jewish side of His mission is no longer prominent. As "the Son of Man" Jesus is near akin to every man that lives.
2. He speaks of His glory as approaching suggested by the sight of these first fruits among the Gentiles. Christ is glorified in the souls He saves, as a physician wins honour by those he heals.
3. The same visitors led the Saviour to use the metaphor of the buried corn. Wheat was mixed up with Greek mysteries. Christ was undergoing the process which would burst the Jewish husk in which His human life had been enveloped. Aforetime He said He was not sent save to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Note —
I. PROFOUND DOCTRINAL TEACHING conveyed in several paradoxes.
1. Glorious as He was, He was yet to be glorified.(1) Jesus was always glorious — as one with God, in the perfection of His moral character, in His great love, in His complete consecration, and also in the wonders of His birth, baptism, and transfiguration.(2) But something was to be added to His honour — death, resurrection, ascension, etc.
2. His glory was to come to Him through shame. It is His highest reputation to be of no reputation. His crown derives new lustre from His cross. If we merge the crucified Saviour in the coming King we rob our Lord of His highest honour.
3. He must be alone, or abide alone. Unless He had trodden the wine. press alone, and had cried, "My God! My God!" etc., He could not have saved us. If He had not died He would, as man, have been alone forever: not without the Father, the Spirit, and the angels; but there had not been another man to keep Him company. Our Lord cannot bear to be alone. Without His people He would have been a shepherd without His sheep, a husband without His spouse. His delights were with the sons of men. In order that He might draw all men unto Him, He was lifted up upon the cross alone.
4. He must die to give life, not teach, etc. If the ethical part of Christianity is the most important, why did Jesus die? But since He did fall into the ground and die, we may expect much as the result of it. The travail of the Son of God shall not bring forth a scanty good.
II. PRACTICAL INSTRUCTION. What is true of Christ is in a measure true of Christians.
1. We must die if we would live.
2. We must surrender everything to keep it. We can never have spiritual life except by giving everything up to God.
3. We must lose self in order to find self. The man who lives for himself does not live — he loses the essence and crown of existence: but if you live for others and God, you will find the life of life. "Seek ye first," etc.
4. If you wish to be the means of life to others, you must, in your measure, die yourself. The self-sacrificing life and death of saints has always been the life and increase of the Church.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THE GREAT ENEMY. In the wilderness Christ did not achieve a complete victory. The devil departed from Him for a season only, and was actually and finally vanquished on the cross. He who hoped to crush Adam was himself crushed in Christ. Satan had brought ruin and misery into a happy world. Christ brought out the world into happiness tenfold as bright and holy as that which Satan ruined.
II. MAN. On the cross was transacted the central event of man's world. All before had reference to this; all after flow from it. The whole system of types found its end on the cross; the whole state of acceptance in which believers stand before God, the whole dispensation of the Spirit, had its origin here. Wherever there breathes a man, there the cross has a deep and never-failing interest. Here also was the triumph of human nature. You hear of the power and dignity of human nature, its wonderful capacities for knowledge, its high endowments for enterprise; but in none of these did it reach its noblest height, nor bear its fairest fruit. Not in Athens or Rome, in poesy or art, has man been most glorified; but on the cross of Jesus. There manhood bore its fruit of love untouched by a blight, and was honoured with the union of the Godhead, stooping to share its sentence of death and to bring it to glory.
III. HIMSELF (Romans 14:9). Christ was born that He might be a King; and here we have His Lordship established and His kingdom inaugurated. Remember what He said to the dying thief. The cross is Christ's throne; His atonement His basis of empire (Revelation 5:6); from it proceeds the work of the Spirit, whose office it is to glorify Christ.
IV. THE FATHER. By the counsel of the Father's will was the plan of redemption directed, and His perfections find their highest example on the cross.
1. Love. "Herein is love," etc.
2. Truth. "For this end He came into the world, to bear witness unto the truth"; and He bore it here.
3. Righteousness. "He made Him to be sin for us," etc.
I. THE VISIBLE GLORY OF THE CROSS. There never was a death like this.
1. Rays of Godhead streamed through the darkest stages of Christ's humiliation. Angels attended His humble birth, and a new star rested above the stable. His hands were rough with labour, but at their touch eyes received their sight. His voice cried in infancy and death, but it quelled the storm and burst the fetters of the tomb. His eye was quenched in darkness, but it had read man's heart and penetrated futurity. He wore no costly robes, but the hem of His garment cured inveterate disease. He trod on no luxurious carpets, but His step was on the sea. His simple drink was water, but water changed into wine at His bidding. No sumptuous banquets entertained His guests, but the few fishes and barley loaves in His hands satisfied multitudes.
2. But this glory was still more apparent in His dying hours. Men had left undone nothing to heap shame upon Him. To pour contempt on His kingly claims they crowned Him with thorns; in mockery of His omniscience they asked Him to tell who struck Him; in ridicule of His omnipotence they challenged Him to leave the cross. Yet even ix this dark hour He was glorified. "If these should hold their peace the stones would cry out," was now verified. Men were silent, dumb nature spoke. The rocks, whose bosoms, less hard than man's, were rent, cried out on earth; the sun, veiling his face from a scene on which man looked without emotion, cried out in heaven; the dead, disturbed in their graves by so great a crime, cried out from their open tombs; and' the temple's veil added its solemn testimony to theirs.
II. THE MORAL GLORY OF THE CROSS.
1. Christ's death afforded the fullest display of His love. Not that it had not been displayed before. It was when Moses smote the rock that its hidden treasures were unsealed. It was when the alabaster box was broken that its value became known. It is when the clusters of the grape are crushed that they yield the wine. And so Christ's gracious attributes were not fully disclosed till His dying hour. But for that it had never been known how He loved. He had been despised and rejected of men, but He died to prove His willingness and power to save the chief of sinners.
2. By His death He conquered hell, death, and the grave.
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)
1. We lose sight of Christ's proper humanity, of the fact that He had a mind governed like our own, a heart and sympathies which throbbed as ours.
2. A false conception of true reverence. It is reverential to be cautious of approaching too closely an earthly sovereign, because near approach would only produce familiarity, and make us feel that he too is but a frail and sinful man. But the Majesty of Jesus requires no such precautions, because the nearer we get to Him the more we realize His Divine Majesty. Note —
I. THE LAW OF THE ATONEMENT.
1. The gloriousness of suffering. There are two ways of looking at every act — at the appearance, and at the reality. Hence what seems mean is often inwardly glorious, and vice versa. Thus there is nothing in the outward circumstances of a soldier's death to distinguish them from an ignoble brawl; but over the soldier's death is shed the glory of that cause for which his life was offered. So in external circumstances Christ's death was mean, but in inward principles it was glorified by God. We say that a throne is glorious and a coronet noble; but nothing can ennoble cowardice or selfishness. We say that a dungeon, scaffold, and the lower arts of life are base; but Christ's death has sanctified the cross, and His life shed a glory over carpentry.
2. The death of one for the life of many. This is the great law upon which God has constructed the universe. If there is to be a crop, there must first be the destruction of the seed. The lives of vegetables and animals are given for us. So the doctrine of the atonement is no strange, arbitrary principle. The Father who made the law by which the flesh of living things sustains the life of others is the same Being who made and obeyed the law by which the flesh of Christ is to the world "meat indeed."
3. Self-devotion (ver. 25). The previous parallel fails in one thing. We do not thank the grain of wheat for dying, because its death is involuntary; and therefore to constitute a true sacrifice a living will is needed. Christ's sacrifice was a voluntary act, else it had been no sacrifice at all.
II. THE MENTAL STRUGGLE BY WHICH THAT LAW WAS EMBRACED AS THE LAW OF THE REDEEMER'S LIFE. It is one thing to understand a law and another to obey it. To admire that which is right is one thing, but to do what is right is another. The Divine life of Christ subordinated innocent human ideas to itself by degrees. Here He was literally distracted between the natural craving for life and the higher desire to embrace the will of God. But the victory was won by prayer, that communion of the mind with God through which our will becomes at last merged into His. And so there was one perfect will, the will of the Father being that of the Son. "Father, glorify Thy name."
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
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