I called my dentist and asked him if he could meet me at his office. He was kind enough to agree.
Yes, it was a Sunday morning. Yes, I left church just before the worship service started. But had I waited until the next day, regular office hours, that small area of swelling would have looked more like I’d sprouted a second head out of my neck.
Isaac’s elbow-plant to the right side of my face the night before during a tickle fight (this was several years ago) turned out to be well placed. It released to the surface the mysterious origin of two long years of pain and discomfort.
“Now my heart 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.” (John 12:27-28 NIV)
Between chapters 10 and 12 of John’s gospel, Jesus goes on an emotional roller coaster ride like only the Son of God could. And in the turmoil of it all, He responds as the Son of God would. I think so often it’s easy for us to look at Jesus and say, “Of course He always had the right answer, of course He never acted out in sin, of course He did the right thing each and every time. He’s God. It was easy. He didn’t have a sin nature to contend with. He wasn’t completely like us. He understood everything. If I understood it all, if I always knew ‘why,’ I’d probably sin a lot less too.”
I think that’s a lot of bird poo. (A new term I learned today at work. I think it’s a layman’s version of a more technical term you hear a lot in the claims world that refers to a similar substance from a different animal.)
We’ve talked about it here before. Well, I have anyway. Jesus was obedient. He learned obedience through His suffering. He wasn’t a robot. He made the choice to obey, which suggests that He could have made a different choice. If you’re not sure on that, check out my earlier discussion here.
Jesus didn’t have it easy. Not for a second of His time walking with us here on earth. It was never easy. Not ever.
And in this very brief stretch of His life, I believe He got onto a roller coaster ride like none of us have ever seen. I’m going to back up in a few days and tackle part of it piece by piece as it relates to Lazarus. But for now, take this as a summary: Starting in chapter 10, He provokes the Jews to the point where they pick up stones to kill Him. He returns to the other side of the river, and many willingly come to Him and accept Him. He hears of the illness of Lazarus, His dear friend. He makes plans to go to Lazarus, and His disciples resist in fear for His life (and their own, no doubt). He arrives and learns of Lazarus’ death, and after being very emotionally moved He calls Lazarus back from the grave. He endures further developments in the plot against His life. His friends have a dinner in His honor at which Mary makes a significant sacrifice and show of worship by washing his feet with costly perfume and her hair. The thieving and greedy heart of His disciple Judas is revealed. More people throng to Him. He enters Jerusalem on the back of a donkey amidst the overwhelming praise of the people. And the plot against His life thickens even further.
Just in a matter days. Parts of three chapters is all.
Every short while, a new wave of emotions to deal with. He’s down, the leaders plot against Him. He’s up, the people love Him. He’s down, His dear friend has died. He’s up, He restores him to life. He’s down, more plotting. He’s up, dinner with friends. He’s down, black hearted disciple. He’s up, intimate worship by a dear friend. He’s down, even more plotting. He’s up, the triumphal entry. He’s down, still more plotting and a deep awareness of what is to come.
With what I imagine to be a long, heavy sigh, Jesus tells His disciples that the time has come. He will be glorified, yes. Back up on the roller coaster. But the roller coaster drops as He describes how that will happen. He tells of the seed that remains just a single solitary seed unless it falls to the ground and dies. Only then can it produce. He goes on to tell them that those who love their lives will lose them. And those who let loose of their lives will gain it all. It was all very prophetic, if they could understand it.
At this point in the roller coaster ride, He tells us that it has been just that. “Now my heart is troubled.” If it were easy, He wouldn’t say something like that. If His emotions had remained fully stable all this time, He wouldn’t say something like that. If this weren’t a deeply painful time, He wouldn’t say something like that.
But He does say something like that. He says exactly that. “Now my heart is troubled.” Or as The Message will put it, “Right now I am storm-tossed.”
Jesus is going through some tough times. The storm has been throwing Him around pretty hard.
And He seems to know what any one of us, any one of the disciples who were standing by Him during these difficult days, would say. But we wonder, what would the Son of God say during painful times that pierced one’s soul?
What would Jesus say?
He asks the question for them, and He answers it.
“And what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?” Again, The Message says, “And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’?” He knows we would be praying for just that. Father, save me from this hour! Father, get me out of this! I don’t want it any more. I can’t take it any more. Get me out of this. Get me out of here. Fix it. Do something. I don’t want to do this any more.
No, He says. No. This is the whole point of being here. I didn’t come to earth as a baby and grow up to be a man and endure what I’m enduring just to bail out at the end. This is what it’s about. This is what I came for.
The Message says this: “No, this is why I came in the first place.”
It hurts. I hate it. It’s painful. It’s miserable.
My heart is troubled. I am storm-tossed.
My heart hurts.
There. He’s said it. He hurts just like us.
And it occurs to Him that He could go to God and ask Him to take it all away. But He knows why He’s here. He knows that God can carry Him despite the pain. And He knows He will carry on.
So what would Jesus say? Jesus would say “Father, glorify Your name.”
In the midst of His emotional turmoil, while He knows the unsteadiness of His own heart which is wracked with pain, He straightens and says, “Father, glorify Your name.”
Do the thing that brings You glory, not what brings Me relief.
Do the thing that honors You, not what comforts Me.
Do the thing that You desire, not what eases My pain.
His very response brings God glory. And God confirms this from the clouds.
So that’s what Jesus would say.
Now what will I say?