from John Cullen
Reading: John 12:27-36
“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!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince 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 show the kind of death he was going to die. The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. John 12:27-36
Light and dark is a theme frequently referenced by John in his gospel and epistle. There is a great cosmic battle going on all around us between light and darkness. Because it is a spiritual battle, it is easy to ignore. We can't see it. When on mission trips to the Dominican Republic, I am always impressed by the deeper understanding of this spiritual battle among the Dominicans and Haitians. Voodoo is a reality in this region of the world and believing in the spiritual is very engrained in this culture. Where poverty is all around, the power of the spiritual becomes more tangible. Visiting the Voodoo doctor is a common event in seeking spiritual remedy. To the follower of Christ, the forces of darkness also become very apparent.
In America we have so much. We end up relying on the physical, the things we see. We become engrossed in the physical, to the detriment of the spiritual. But as we know, just because you ignore something, doesn't mean it's not there. In our passage, Jesus is troubled. He is troubled because he is looking forward to the great cosmic battle that he must contest. This battle was foretold in Genesis 3. It is a battle that has had to be fought since the creation of man. It is the battle of light against darkness, between sin and righteousness. Jesus will demonstrate the great heart of a warrior at the cross. Deuteronomy 21 says, "because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse". Jesus was about to fall under God's curse on the cross. Jesus is troubled and rightfully so. Jesus has existed in perfect community with God the Father and the Holy Spirit forever. And that communion is about to be broken. All of the sins of the world are about to be placed on Jesus, the wrath bearer, for us. In those three hours of darkness, not light, Jesus became sin for us and his Father turned his back on his only Son. The hours of anguish in the darkness were so unbearable for the Father that he wanted no one to see the horror of his son's pain. Jesus bore the punishment we each deserved and was willing to be abandoned by his Father so that through his death, he might draw all men to himself. He was willing to step away from his perfect communion in the trinity, so that we would be invited in to that community through his victory at the cross.
There was a steep price to pay for our salvation. Jesus paid it in full at the cross and by faith, we have all the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ credited to our account through his sacrifice at the cross. The bright light that follows on Resurrection Sunday is now our great source of strength. Jesus died an agonizing death on our account, was buried in a dark tomb, but has burst forth in bright light securing our victory and the resurrection life that comes from that victory foretold long ago. As John summarized in John 8, "“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The battle took place at the cross. Jesus defeated darkness. He has called us to the light of life and into community with the Trinity. What a Savior!