Friday 19 February 2021

Bible Book:

'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.' (vs 31-32)

John 12:27-36a Friday 19 February 2021

Psalm 85


These verses complete the response Jesus makes when informed that some Greeks want to see him. Jesus takes this apparent broadening of his appeal as a sign that, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (v.23) which is the way he thinks of the Cross. He is also aware (see John 13:31) that his glory and his Father’s glory are part and parcel of each other. “This hour” as the moment of Jesus’s destiny, is a phrase that has figured throughout John's Gospel.

Verse 27 tells us how he feels at the prospect of his imminent destiny, and is parallel to his self-agonising in Gethsemane in the other gospels. Luke’s account in some of the ancient manuscripts includes reference to an angel from heaven strengthening Jesus’s resolve, and here God’s voice from heaven has the same effect. Indeed some bystanders believe an angel has spoken to him whilst others only hear thunder. But Jesus was clear in his mind as to what he had to do before the voice spoke, and so in v.30 he declares that the voice, even if the words were not discerned, was primarily for the crowds’ benefit. The voice’s message is that God has been glorified through Jesus’s ministry – particularly in this gospel the 'signs' or miracles are seen as a display of God’s glory – and that he will again be glorified through the Cross.

Verses 31-32 explain the significance of the Cross for the claims Jesus has made. Jesus’ mission has been condemned by the world and its powers, and shortly it will also be condemned by  courts, but on a cosmic scale the reverse is true. The "ruler of this world" is identified as the devil in 8:44 and 13:2 and as Satan in 13:27. The double entendre of “being lifted up” occurred also in 3:14 and 8:28, as a reference both to the Cross and the exaltation to glory (like the servant of Isaiah 52:13), but it is verse 33 here that makes explicit that a Roman execution was in mind. For Jesus, and therefore for the Christian Church, the Cross and Resurrection cannot be separated; Jesus is raised on the Cross and raised from death – there could not be one without the other.

Verse 34 is not a perfectly coherent response from the crowd to what Jesus has just said in that for example he referred to the "Son of Man" rather earlier in the chapter (v.23) and in any case the Jewish crowds did not regard “Son of Man” as a messianic title. What we are party to here is a discussion between John and his readers. But the essential objection of the Jews as ever is that their belief has no scope for a Messiah who is put to death. Rather than become embroiled in debate, Jesus responds with an application of the fact that he will soon be departing, namely that they should make use of the light while they have it. Compare 9:5 and then 9:39-41 as illustrating the consequence of not doing so.


To Ponder:

  • In a difficult situation have you ever experienced anything that you might describe as a voice from heaven?
  • In what sense was the “ruler of this world... driven out” (v.31) by Jesus on the Cross?
  • The passage contains a number of insights into the significance for us of the death of Jesus. Which of them means most to you?
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