27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
Have you ever had a troubled soul? Of course you have. We all have. There are better questions. When was the last time your soul was troubled? Why was it troubled? What did you do about it? Is it OK to have a troubled soul or is that always a sign of unbelief?
Our passage opens with the words, “Now my heart is troubled”. There is a lot we can learn from the fact that it was Jesus who said them. To that end, we will consider the hard road of obedience, the rightness of obedience at all times, the pleasure of God in our obedience, and the certain victory of obedience.
And so, those of you who are heavy laden (whose souls are troubled), look to Jesus and find help and hope. Learn from Jesus what kind of troubled soul pleases God and what kind doesn’t. And learn what it looks like to respond to a rightly troubled soul in a manner that glorifies God and what it looks like to respond in a way that doesn’t.
The big ideas of this passage are that (1) Jesus helps us see that the souls of the godly must be troubled at times and that (2) the source of that trouble and our response to it are critical. The main takeaway is to learn to be troubled by the things that trouble Jesus and respond in the ways modeled by Jesus in the confidence of the certain victory of Jesus.
THE HARD ROAD OF OBEDIENCE (27)
It is remarkably significant and significantly remarkable that Jesus had a troubled soul. The kind of troubled soul Jesus spoke of at the beginning of v.27 was such that He felt the unimaginable weight of what awaited Him (at “this hour”— being crucified and forsaken). His troubled soul was the result of the growing tension between the painful cost of faithfulness and the impossibility of disobedience. Jesus was perfectly committed to glorifying His Father in His obedience and love for the world, but also entirely aware of the physical and (far, far, far, far greater) spiritual suffering He was about to endure on account of those things. In other words, the source of Jesus’ troubled soul was His certain knowledge of the certain pain that was about to accompany His certain obedience.
He experienced something similar at the faithless despair of Lazarus’s sister, Mary, and her companions at Lazarus’s death. “(John 11:33) When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.”
And Jesus would experience it again at the thought of Judas’s betrayal. “(John 13:21) Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.'”
This is significant in that it means having a troubled soul is not sin by itself. Indeed, it is not only not necessarily sin, but there are time when it is sin to not have a troubled soul. And in that way, it is good to grieve and lament when things are not as they should be. It is wrong not to. It was right, therefore, for Jesus to feel what He felt because the world was not as it should be and the price He was about to pay was as steep as it gets.
We ought to follow in Jesus’ footsteps here. Because we live in the same fallen world as Jesus did, because we too often have to pay a costly price to live as God commands, we ought to regularly have troubled souls as well.
To be a Christian and to lack an occasionally troubled soul is a symptom of a significant problem. It means that we lack a proper longing for things to be set right. It means that we lack a proper desire for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. It means that we lack a proper understanding of the mission God has given to us. It means that we lack a proper love for our hurting neighbors.
Godly people will often echo Jesus’ words, “Now my soul is troubled.”
With this, however, two things need to be carefully considered whenever our souls are troubled. First, we must consider the source of the troubling. There is, of course, an important difference between a soul that is troubled on account of a failure to have some kind of sinful desire met and a soul that is troubled because God’s glory is being masked by sin. It is one thing to have a troubled soul because you were pulled over for going 100mph in a school zone and another thing entirely to have it troubled because, despite your persistent prayers and evangelism, your neighbor still isn’t trusting in Jesus.
Having a troubled soul is only godly when it results from the longing for some missing godliness or the steep cost of pursuing it.
The second thing we must consider whenever we experience a troubled soul is our response to it. What we do as a result of our troubled soul is every bit as important as the source of the trouble. Just like different sources of trouble mean different things (not every kind of troubled soul is good), so too do different responses (not every response to a troubled soul is good). That’s where we’ll turn next as we consider Jesus’ response.
Before we do, though, I’d like to invite you to actually consider whether or not the primary source of your soul’s trouble is a right longing for that which is right. When your soul is troubled, is it rooted in righteousness or unmet selfish desires? Likewise, does it grieve you when things are not as God intends or are you content with things being in disordered rebellion against God? Are you more likely to be angered by something not going the way you want or by something that falls short of the glory of God? When you are angered by something in rebellion against God, is it more because of the inconvenience it causes you or because it robs God of the glory due His Name?
Jesus’ heart was troubled because the road of obedience is often hard. The cost of doing the will of God in this world is often steep. We must look to Jesus to see what it means to have a rightly troubled soul and to respond to it in a manner pleasing to the Lord.
THE RIGHTNESS OF OBEDIENCE (27-28)
The best way to grasp what a God-honoring response is in any given situation is to consider what Jesus did or commands in that situation. Jesus’ soul was troubled because He knew that He had to go to the cross and He knew how excruciating it was going to be. What, then, was His response? He responded in two main ways. He named the easy way out, but then chose the way of greatest cost and reward.
He Named the Easy Way Out (27)
Interestingly (for me, fascinatingly), Jesus’ initial response was to name the easy way out; the temptation that was before Him.
27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?”…
This is a living picture of what the author of Hebrews meant when he wrote, (Hebrews 4:15) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
It would have been much easier, much less painful, for Jesus to call on His Father to rescue Him from this dilemma, to deliver Him from the hands of those who would soon crucify Him as well as the Father’s own wrath. His words indicated a Hebrews 4:15 kind of temptation.
The same thing was true here as was true when Jesus was arrested, (Matthew 26:53) “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?”
The temptation that Jesus faced as He considered His future was to ask His Father to save Him, to deliver Him from the cost of His obedience.
Have you been there? Have you ever had a time when you knew what you needed to do to honor God, you knew it would cost a great deal to do so, and so you contemplated asking God to save you from having to obey? As Jesus’ example makes clear, the idea coming into your head isn’t sin by itself. Whether or not it is sin is determined by what you do in response to the idea.
He Chose Way of Greatest Reward (27-28)
Jesus’ heart was troubled. But Jesus’ had a rightly troubled heart which He rightly responded to in every way. It’s important that we see the shift that takes place in the text here. The picture John paints in the first half of v.27 is one of tension. The temptation was put in front of Jesus to abandon His mission to avoid its steep cost. From our perspective, it feels like things briefly hung in the balance. But in the blink of an eye, everything shifted. The second half of v.27 is a turning point. Yet again, Jesus chose the path of obedience. Though He was tempted, He did not give in. He chose the path of righteousness instead of sin. The temptation left and everything that followed was resolute righteousness. So again, what did it look like for Jesus to rightly respond to His troubled soul?
In this case, He lifted His eyes to heaven, and declared His resolve, [I will not seek to escape this path of obedience] “27…for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.”
Jesus emphatically proclaimed that no matter the cost, He would do exactly and only that which He was sent to do. He would obey no matter what. He briefly acknowledged the temptation He was confronted with, but immediately resolved to fulfill the purpose for which He came—taking on the wrath of God stored up for, and dying in place of, sinners.
What’s more, Jesus declared His ultimate motivation for His obedience: the glory of God. Above all—above His own comfort and life, even above the salvation of the world, Jesus obeyed all the way in order that His Father would receive the glory due His name. Jesus’ highest motivation in choosing to continue to the cross despite its cost, was to see the glory of God duly put on display for the world to see.
At the cross and the empty grave was the holy glory of God most clearly shown and nothing was more appealing to Jesus than that. His soul was troubled, but “(Hebrews 12:2) for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” He chose the hard road of obedience for on it alone was the greatest reward—glorifying the Father.
We must learn this as well, Grace Church. We must obey God at all costs because He is God, and because it is the path to the greatest reward—always. In this life we face constant temptation to choose other paths; paths of common sense and worldly wisdom; paths that promise greater safety, comfort, and reward. But Jesus helps us see that in the end, however, every single one of them is ultimately foolish, dangerous, and empty.
Taking the easy way out is its own reward (temporary relief and some measure of earthly blessing). On the other hand, the path of obedience is often immediately harder, more costly, foolish-looking, and counter-cultural. But it always leads to the greatest reward—the glory of God.
As Peter counted the cost of following Jesus, He made mention of it to Jesus. Jesus replied, (Mark 10:29-30) “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
THE PLEASURE OF GOD IN OBEDIENCE (28-30)
The road of obedience is often hard, but it always leads to the greatest reward. One significant aspect of that reward is the pleasure of God in our obedience. Jesus walked continually in perfect obedience and the perfect pleasure of God.
After Jesus declared His resolve to obey, His Father’s pleasure boomed from the heavens.
28 … Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
The voice of God here was revealed in a manner that echoed Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration.
“(Luke 3:22) You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
“(Matthew 17:5) This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Jesus walked continually in perfect obedience and the perfect pleasure of God.
The Father had been glorified in Jesus’ baptism, teaching, miraculous works, and in His perfect representation of the godhead in His life and ministry on earth. Likewise, the Father would be glorified in Jesus’ defeat of sin and death, His resurrection from the dead, and in His ascension to the Father’s right hand.
While Jesus understood all of this perfectly, apparently, it wasn’t as clear to the crowd.
29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
The fact that it was God’s voice was hidden from most of the crowd. But the fact that the voice was one of supernatural power was revealed; that’s why it was confused with thunder and angels. The words were muddled, but the power behind them was not.
Nevertheless, it was important to both John and Jesus that we know that the Father’s voice was not for Jesus’ benefit, but for those who believed and would believe in Him. It was important as another piece of evidence that Jesus really was from God; that Jesus really was who He said He was; that Jesus really was the Christ. It is also important in that this is another example of something Jesus’ followers would only really understand after His death and resurrection. It was a kind of deposit made by God to strengthen the Church when it needed it most.
That this voice was mainly for those who had or would believe in Jesus is evident both the next verse (v.30) and in v.37, which describes the unbelief of many.
For all those reasons, “30 Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not mine.'”
It is a really big deal that the Son walked continually in the Father’s pleasure. It is an equally big deal that the Son knew it. Consider that, Grace. The gospel is such that we ought also live in such knowledge and confidence. In Jesus we too walk continually in the Father’s pleasure. And this because God sees us not according to our own works, but according to Jesus’.
As we saw earlier, it is good and right to obey in all things, no matter the cost. At the same time, our final hope is in Jesus’ obedience, not ours. The only question, therefore, is whether or not we will experience the pleasure of God. It is upon us even if we don’t feel it or act like it. Just imagine how much different, how much more like Jesus, your life would be if you really believed, felt, and lived in light of the fact that in Jesus you always walk in the pleasure of God.
Jesus didn’t need to hear the Father’s voice to know that He walked in the Father’s pleasure. The voice of God in v.28 was for our benefit, therefore. And it benefits us in confirming that Jesus is the Christ, confirming that His death was from God, revealing to us the amazing grace of the Christian gospel, and in showing the path of greatest reward.
THE CERTAIN VICTORY OF OBEDIENCE (31-36)
We’ve considered the hard road of obedience, the greater reward of obedience, the Father’s pleasure in obedience, and now, finally, we’ll consider the certain victory of obedience.
Ultimately, as I hope you know full well, it is Jesus’ obedience that secures our victory. That is why it is certain. And that is why Jesus could declare the things He declared in 31-36. Because of Jesus’ obedience (four victorious things)…
God Will Victoriously Judge the World (31)
31 Now is the judgment of this world.
God alone is God and, therefore, God alone is the perfect judge of all. The world will be judged based on its response to Jesus’ victory. The faithless will join the devil in receiving the just penalty for their sins. The faithful, will join in Jesus’ victory and everlasting life—glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.
Jesus’ obedience won our victory over sin’s condemnation.
God Will Victoriously Cast Out the Devil (31)
31 Now will the ruler of this world be cast out.
God always has been and always will be God. He has no rival. However, until Jesus rose in victory, the “ruler of this world,” the devil, could rightly accuse the sons of Adam of treason and God Himself of the injustice of leaving their sins unpunished. But in Jesus’ perfect and full obedience, the devil was stripped even of his power to accuse. He was defeated and cast out, even as he awaits his final judgment and death.
Jesus’ obedience won our victory over the devil’s accusations.
Jesus Will Victoriously Draw All People to Himself (32-34)
32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
Jesus’ victory is such that all people who hope in Him will never perish but have everlasting life. Remember, it was the coming and question of the Greeks (12:20-22) that set this whole dialogue in motion. Their question was whether or not there was room in Jesus’ victory for Gentiles—non-Jews—like them. What Jesus said implicitly earlier, He said explicitly here. Jesus’ victory is for all people. He will draw to Himself people from every tribe, tongue, and nation on earth.
There is another key to this aspect of Jesus’ victory that we need to see. It will come from Jesus being “lifted up”. That is, as Jesus had already said, His victory would come through His being lifted up on a cross. This is, of course, an unusual method of victory. Picking up on this,
34 … the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”
Indeed, the OT certainly speaks of an everlasting reign for the Christ (Psalm 110:4). And Jesus has certainly referred to himself as the Son of Man (John 3:13). And what Jesus promised did not sound like the Scripture passages the Jews had in mind to be sure. Nevertheless, God’s ways are not often our ways. He gives victory through horns and musical instruments (Joshua 6:20), uncut hair (Judges 16:17), purposefully diminished armies (Judges 7:7), spiritual chariots of fire (2 Kings 2:11), shepherd boys (1 Samuel 17:19-20), and crosses.
Grace Church, let us marvel at the certain victory of Jesus, the nature of the victory, and the means of victory.
God Will Victoriously Make Sons of Light (35-36)
35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”
Among the first words in John’s Gospel are these concerning Jesus: “(1:4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus’ promises in vs.35-36 are exactly what John had in mind when he wrote those opening lines. John knew, for he personally witnessed it, that Jesus was the light of the world and that darkness would not defeat Him. He would be victorious and share His light and victory with the world.
The light that had come into the world was about to return to His rightful place at God’s right hand. His light would remain in His Word, His people, and His Spirit, but the true light of the world would soon depart from them.
While the light was on earth, He gave light to mankind in the sense that all who had eyes and ears could see and hear Him. All could watch Him to understand the nature and will of God. Jesus perfectly revealed what it looks like to live as God intends. Jesus showed what it meant to walk the hard road of obedience, to walk in the pleasure of God which is the greatest reward, and what it looks like to walk in certain knowledge of everlasting victory.
Jesus not only displayed those things, He also invited everyone to join Him in them by believing in Him. Jesus came to bring victory for us by dying in our place, to pay for our sins, to empower us for obedience, and to reconcile us to God. All who would receive Him in faith would share in His victory as sons and daughters of light.
Grace, John wrote what he wrote about Jesus victory because the offer still stands. We too may become children of the light if we will believe in the Light.
Jesus’ heart was troubled on account of the cost He would soon pay to secure everlasting victory for all who would believe in Him as the light of the world. Believing in Him as the light of the world is to trust Him and follow Him on the hard road of obedience (to share in His troubled soul). But it is to do so in certain knowledge that He only and always leads to victory and the greatest reward—the glory and pleasure of God.
It is precisely because Jesus followed through on the promise He made in this passage that we can now turn to the meal of the victorious, the Lord’s Supper.