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The Very Reason I Came

When I think of Jesus, I often think about His love for me, how perfect He was - never once sinning - and how He sacrificed Himself to save me. But what I've never spent much time thinking about is how hard it must have been for Him to know what kind of death and torture He would have to go through, that He had to push through crippling fear, and how He did it anyway. For me. For all of us.

As I wipe the floor with the sweat of my anxiety, pushing through long-held fears and false beliefs, reaching way beyond my comfort zone in obedience to the calling God seared into my heart, I find so much encouragement in this Bible study on the character of Jesus that I'd like to share with you today.

In John 12, we're shown a unique picture of Jesus. Events happen all around Him to prepare Him for His death. He's anointed with expensive perfume, he rides into town on a donkey's colt and people cover the ground with palm branches and shout "Hosanna!", large crowds gather to see Him, and others request a private audience. Into what seems like chaos, Jesus stops the swirling around Him to say this:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

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.

As I read this passage, I can't help but think, "What?" and read it again. Jesus says it's time for Him to "be glorified", but then He starts talking about death and honor. He says that He's troubled and wants to ask God to save Him from "this hour", but He won't because "it was for this very reason I came to this hour." Then God's audible voice thunders from heaven for the benefit of all who are with Jesus and He replies something about judgment and the devil and being lifted up. Again, what???

Knowing what we know about His crucifixion, we can apply that understanding to Jesus' cryptic words and start to make some sense of them. Although Jesus knew He was about to die, He also knew that He would be resurrected and return to heaven to be with God for eternity. That's why He called death His glorification.

But Jesus was also fully human, and death by crucifixion was torture. As a man, the knowledge that His body would face total humiliation and horrific pain wasn't a fun thought. I am so moved that Jesus Himself acknowledges His fear and how hard it was for Him to be brave and keep going. Jesus had to push through His own dread of what was to come, discipline His human nature that wanted to beg God to save Him from all the pain, and go through it anyway!

If we look back at Luke 22:40-44, we see another instance where Jesus was obviously in agony over what was about to happen to Him.

He... knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

An angel was sent to strengthen Jesus because He was so afraid! Yet Jesus was without sin. What a revelation! Being afraid to the point of physical signs of anxiety isn't sin, and it is NOT a good method for testing out whether you're doing the right thing.

There's one more thing I want to look at in John 12. In verse 32, Jesus says, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people unto myself." When we think of being lifted up, we think of glory and honor - not death on a cross.

Others who were "lifted up" in the Bible were who? Noah, who escaped from the flood without much more than the lives of his family and all the animals; Moses, who secured the Israelite's freedom from Egypt, then led the grumbling multitude through the wilderness for 40 years; Jeremiah, who was thrown into a cistern where he sunk down deep in mud; John the Baptist, who was beheaded; Peter, who was beaten numerous times and eventually crucified? Or maybe King David, a man after God's own heart who had God's great favor? But wait. He was chased down by Saul for years and had to live by his sword to survive, even after he became king and his children tried to usurp his throne. What Biblical example do we have of someone who was completely healthy, wealthy, and wise? Oh yes, King Solomon! But then I read Lamentations and realize that even he wrote,

"I am the man who has seen affliction

by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.

He has driven me away and made me walk

in darkness rather than light;

indeed, he has turned his hand against me

again and again, all day long. who has seen affliction

by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.

He has driven me away and made me walk

in darkness rather than light;

indeed, he has turned his hand against me

again and again, all day long." (Lamentations 3:1-3)

When will we come to accept that our lives are not meant to be free from trouble? That what God has called us to do will likely mean pushing through tremendous fear, possibly agony, and our glory may be the untimely death of our human bodies? But the great reward that awaits us in heaven is beyond anything we can imagine (John 14:1-4), so we press on. Why? Because our mission on earth is the same as Jesus stated so plainly: TO BRING GLORY TO GOD'S NAME.

We are called to be like Jesus and bring glory to God's name. If we are "lifted up", that's the purpose in it. A seed has to fall to the ground and die to bring forth a harvest. Even though we must understand that bringing glory to God's name doesn't mean our lives on earth will be free from trouble and suffering, I leave you with John 14:27, which says, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter. Even though fear may be a natural response to suffering, we can follow Jesus' example and rest in the knowledge that God is in control and He will take care of everything that concerns us.

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