Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. ‘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.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. John 12:20-33 (NRSV)
The sign has been posted on many pulpits throughout the land; it can be seen by the preacher as he shares the bread of life: Sir; we would see Jesus.
It was a simple request, We want to see Jesus. Yet in response Jesus said that his soul was troubled (the word means “agitated”. Why is it that the man who could stand on a rocking, sinking boat full of frightened fishermen and command the seas and the storm to hush, is so troubled in spirit when a handful of outsider/curiosity seekers want to have a talk with him.?
Easy answer – the cross! Well, who wouldn’t be agitated? Jesus knew what was in store for him. But, going deeper, we have to unpack the phrase to get to the bottom of the “troubling” of Jesus’ soul.
The cross was bad from a physical standpoint. Untold sermons have been preached that describe the excruciating agony of the beatings and crucifixion.
The weight of the sins of all mankind which Jesus would take upon himself was worse than the physical. Someone once remarked to me that Jesus chose to bear the marks of my sin throughout all eternity. That may be true, because after the resurrection, Jesus invited Thomas to put his hands right in the nail prints and spear hole in Jesus’ hands and side!
The most pressing issue was the weight of the mission. The weight that troubled or agitated Jesus’ soul was the reality that our souls were hanging in the balance on the outcome of what He had come to do.
Now is the judgment of this world;
The judgment (or “crisis” in Greek) was that Jesus had come to make a dividing line. Once the cross was lifted to destroy the work of Satan, there would forever be a line drawn between salvation and damnation. Men would get to choose upon which side they would go, but Christ himself would be the dividing line.
Now, none of this is a surprise; we have heard the Gospel story perhaps many times. But what of the weight; what was gripping Jesus’ soul and wringing it like a sponge? What would make him sweat great drops of blood in Gethsemane later?
The bottom line about the agitation in Jesus’ inner being is you and me. Our souls were at stake, and the Father loved each of us so much that the Holy Spirit groans over our sin; Christ feels our burden…and it troubles His soul.
When the Gentiles came seeking an audience with Jesus, nobody had really seen Jesus; nobody understood the mission yet. His disciples didn’t understand, and the crowds followed mostly for healing, loaves and fishes. The fact is many people still don’t see Jesus.
Jesus’ mission was to drive out Satan; His strategy was unconditional surrender – not to Satan, but to the Father’s will. He gave us the picture of the kernel of wheat grain. It isn’t any good to the farmer until it yields itself to the farmer’s plan and gets buried in the soil; then it can produce.
Jesus was going to trust God fully; He would bury Himself in obedience to the Father’s will like no man ever did, or has since. The cross wasn’t Satan’s triumph; it was God’s way of dealing with our sin. It was by the cross that Jesus would make the offer for all people to come to God for forgiveness, healing and eternal life. He planted our forgiveness on the cross.
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’
Ultimately, the cross is only an offer – the empty tomb an invitation. Jesus made the way, but our nature makes it hard to let go and trust Him. The agitation that Jesus knew in His soul that day was the knowledge of how many people would reject His offer…and die in their sins, eternally-separated from God.
To die without Christ is like a drowning man going down in full view of the hand that could save.
Christ offers you eternal life – trust Him – run to the cross!