The 12th Chapter of John records Jesus saying a prayer that is reminiscent of the prayer He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. A comparison of both passages is as follows:
John 12:27-28 27 “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”
In Matthew 26:39 we see Jesus pray, “39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”
I compare these two passages, because, in both instances, Jesus is deeply troubled as He looks forward to the cross. In the Garden, He says, let this cup pass from Me and in our passage from John, He is recorded as saying Father, save Me from this hour. In both cases, Jesus becomes emotional at the thought of what He’s about to do on the cross. We must remember that Jesus is 100% man and 100% God and His humanity is revealed in these passages. Is He overwhelmed? Doubtful? Is His faith shaken? I don’t think so. Rather, our text says Jesus is deeply troubled in His very soul.
Have you ever been troubled?
I am confident that if you are reading this right now, there have been times in your life when you have found yourself deeply troubled. You may be troubled by something right now. Jesus can identify with our troubles. When Jesus faced the prospect of the cross we need to understand the magnitude of what He was about to do. Jesus was going to bear the cost of the sins for the whole world. We shouldn’t be surprised that He was deeply troubled. The author of Hebrews wrote that Jesus can sympathize and empathize with us because He understands what we’re facing (Hebrews 4:15). He understands because He faced trouble one hundred fold what we will ever face. And in our passage from John, as in the Garden, Jesus is role modeling how we as believers should face trouble.
Notice how in both passages, Jesus immediately surrenders to the will of the Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus says, Not as I will, but as You (the Father) will. And in our passage from John, Jesus says but for this purpose, I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.
In the midst of deep trouble, Jesus is most concerned with His Father’s will and His Father’s glory. Can you say the same?
In sharing His emotions with His disciples, Jesus is teaching them about the cost of commitment to the Father’s will. You see, if we are truly committed to the will of God, eventually we’ll be asked to submit our will to His. Warren Weirsbe says that “In the hour of suffering and surrender, there are only two prayers we can pray, either ‘Father, save me!’ or ‘Father, glorify Thy name!'” Too often, I think we cry out to God to deliver us from our trouble without considering His will. We ask God why He’s allowing unpleasant things to happen to us, but Christ is teaching us that our prayer should be, “Father, through this suffering and through this pain, glorify thyself.”
It should be noted that the Father answered Jesus audibly in verse 28 when “a voice came out of heaven [saying]: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
The Father answered Jesus’ petition out of heaven audibly. The Gospels record three instances of God doing this. The other two were at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:21-22) and transfiguration (Matt. 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). The Synoptics record those events, and only John recorded this one. In the first instance, apparently only John the Baptist and Jesus heard the voice. In the second instance, only three disciples and Jesus heard it. And in the third instance, a multitude and Jesus heard it. In all of these cases the purpose of the voice was to authenticate Jesus as God’s Son in a dramatic way, and in all cases the voice had some connection with Jesus’ death. You see, God had already glorified Himself through the Incarnation and through the ministry of Jesus … and He would glorify Himself again, through Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.
As Jesus submitted His will to the Father’s and voluntarily sacrificed Himself on the cross, God was glorified. Likewise, He is glorified every time we, as Christians, submit our will to His. When we are able to stand in the midst of turmoil and genuinely pray for God to be glorified and for His will to be done, we are following Christ’s example … and the Father is glorified.
Perhaps this is what James was thinking of when he wrote, “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
Brothers and sisters, the way we face troubles and trials matters. And I hope you’ll think of these passages the next time you find yourself troubled.