“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say — ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that 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 standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” - John 12:27-32
“I Have and I Will”
One of the more perplexing passages of John’s gospel, today’s text will make a little more sense when read in its context. In the verses immediately before, Jesus speaks of the nature of sacrificial death—how a seed falls into the ground to die but when it does, it brings forth life.
But death is no trifle, and so the text takes a pensive turn, offering us a window on Jesus’ interior world. He knows that “his hour” has come and he knows what it will ask of him. Even as the people are celebrating his entry to Jerusalem, welcoming him as a king, he knows that every step he takes moves him closer to suffering, rejection, and death.
But still, he will not turn away. He will not try to escape. He simply asks that the Father do what he has promised: “Glorify your name.”
This may seem like a curious thing to ask, but remember that Jesus devoted his life to teaching people the true heart of the Father toward them. He gave everything to reveal the Father’s glory and goodness. But by the end of the week, all this could be in jeopardy.
Because with his life ending, it’s entirely possible that Jesus’ teaching and ministry would be destroyed as well. And everything that he said about the Father and how he loved the world and how he was sent to bring life and light—all of it would be suspect. After all, a criminal can’t speak for God. A person who dies condemned cannot be trusted.
In fact, this may be exactly what the ruling powers hoped his death would do. By condemning him in an official and public way, they could quash both his life and his influence. They could change the narrative about who he was and what he had revealed about the Father. And perhaps we could all just pretend like none of this had ever happened... perhaps we could all just go back to normal…
But then, from heaven, a voice speaks. Just as it did at his baptism, a voice speaks so that all who hear might understand. But instead of a dove and a word of blessing, this time heaven thunders with a word of promise: “I have… and I will.”
I have. And I will.
Scholars believe that the gospel of John was written, not as a witness to outsiders, but to the early church itself—to those who’d put their faith in the unbelievable claims of Jesus. To those who trusted that his upside way of being in the world was actually right side up. To those who believed that somehow he had changed the world even as it appeared to stay very much the same.
To those who in the quiet places of their hearts sometimes were troubled. To those who sometimes questioned, “Is the Father who Jesus says he is? Is he life and light and love? Is he glory and power and goodness? Will the Father show himself to be all this and more? ”
And just as it did for the crowds around him, and just as it did for the earliest believers, a voice from heaven thunders through the ages speaking to our own troubled hearts as well: “I have… and I will.”