The “hour” that had not come when Mary suggested that Jesus solve the shortage of wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:4), has now come. Jesus said, “the hour has come” (12:23), which he explains means he had to die in order to bear much fruit, like a grain of wheat. This reality caused Jesus some degree of “trouble” (12:27), which means to strike one’s spirit with fear and dread.
That makes me wonder - when did Jesus get a full and complete picture of his task to die as God incarnate? Did he have a full understanding from the time he was a kid, or was it slowly revealed to him as he matured? I don’t know. Still, at this point in John’s gospel, he does have a complete picture of what the Father was requiring, and it caused him fear and dread. Yet he obeyed.
Facing that fear and dread, Jesus then asked some Greeks a rhetorical question: “What shall I say? Father save me from this hour?” (12:27). He explains it was for this very purpose that he had been born. His birth and entire life had been headed to this hour, to his crucifixion, this “lifting up” (12:32). Jesus explained that when he would be crucified, he will “draw all people to myself” (12:32), which does not mean every living person on the planet, but all people without distinction, without exception, without bias or prejudice.
Jesus then shifts to Jewish unbelief and makes a remarkable connection between God’s sovereignty and human freedom.
God’s sovereignty: the Jews did not believe “so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled” (12:38).
Human choices: “…many of even the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God” (12:41-42).
So, somehow God’s sovereign will is accomplished through man’s desires, loves and free choices, and in this case, God was steering some away from belief through their own loves, desires and choices. Yet through different desires, loves and choices, His sovereign will was accomplished by steering others towards Him in belief.
Be careful what you love. It will shape you.
Divine sovereignty and human freedom are both real, and they both work in tandem. When we tip the scales too far to either side, we begin to allow our theology (Calvinism or Arminianism) to guide our interpretation of the text when those systems shouldn’t be driving the interpretation. They should be a result of good interpretation.
So, it was God’s sovereign plan to guide Jesus to the cross, to be “lifted up” but He did that too, through the desires, loves and choices of Jesus and the desires, loves and choices of the unbelieving nation of Jews.
We are responsible for what we desire, love, and choose. Somehow God faithfully guides us through our desires, loves, and choices and a million other forces and factors that I don’t understand. But that does not remove my responsibility to love Jesus and walk with Him today.
Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today,