By Stuart Powell
John’s Gospel shares a conversation that occurred the Sunday before Jesus’ crucifixion which is often overlooked in the festive inauguration of Holy Week.
Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. . . . Now my soul is greatly distressed. And what should I say? ‘Father, deliver me from this hour’? No, but for this very reason I have come to this hour” (John 12:23-27, New English Translation).
How often had Jesus looked ahead to “the time”? Did he ever pause as he washed his feet to consider where the nails would be driven? Did he ever rub his wrists in full knowledge of what was coming? Did he pause to contemplate the crucifixion sites around Jerusalem? As “the time” drew closer, how did he remain focused on the needs at hand? Did he pause to look at Calvary before descending down the Mount of Olives and into the adoring crowd on Palm Sunday?
Sometime after entering the Kidron Valley, Jesus spoke about the arrival of “the time.” After confessing his purpose, Jesus prayed.
“Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard the voice said that it had thundered. Others said that an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice has not come for my benefit but for yours. 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 12:28-32, NET).
This scene reminds us that Jesus wrestled with the painful task before him. He did not approach “the time” blindly. He knew it was coming and he planned for its challenges. Each time he weighed the cost in his mind, he resolved to hold fast to his mission. Jesus won every encounter with “the time.” He permitted God to empower him to continue his ministry and prepare him for the sacrifice that would liberate all humanity from the power of sin and death.
As we partake of these emblems, we can think beyond Jesus’ actions on the cross, for he carried the burden of his ultimate sacrifice for many days beforehand. Through his death on the cross, we can find rest in God for victory over our times of temptation. Jesus’ bruised body and his flowing blood are the weapons God uses to strengthen us for his victories in our lives. Remember Jesus’ victories as you partake of the bread and the cup.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.