We’re working our way through John 12 this week. John’s been building tension into the story. And in today’s passage, John 12:20-36, Jesus seems a little overwhelmed.
Some people in town (Jerusalem) for the big religious festival want to see Jesus.
Makes sense. He’s one of the tourist attractions, one of the controversial and popular rabbis. Who wouldn’t want to see him, whether you are interested in voting for him or not?
And when the disciples relay the message to Jesus, he ignores it.
Instead, he shifts the conversation to an odd mixture of glory and death. As if the two are intertwined. And then, in a most remarkable moment of vulnerability, Jesus says “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Is this the same kind of tension soldiers feel right before the big battle they’ve trained for? Is this the tension before the final game of the NCAA tournament? Or the most dangerous brain surgery of your career?
It’s probably closer to the first. Nobody dies in the second case, and your patient could die in the last case, not you. But in the first situation, your own life is on the line.
And in Jesus’ situation, his life was forfeit.
No wonder he ignored the meet-and-greet. And no wonder, at the end of this section, he disappears from public view.
As you near the end of your mission, after you hear the divine “attaboy and Godspeed”, wouldn’t you want to get away by yourself for a bit?
That’s how John writes the story.
That’s how Jesus lived the story.
And as we read it, it leaves us with this sense of impending….something.