Flashback Episode — Jesus’ One Big Goal: John 12:20-36


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Often, as I read one of the gospels, and look closer at an event in Jesus’ life, certain details that I had never noticed before become visible. As we are now looking at the week of Jesus’ crucifixion, most of the gospels seem to slow down and dedicate more space to this last week before Jesus’ crucifixion – giving us more details to uncover.

The additional details in each gospel are likely because Jesus was trying to help them understand what was about to happen, and they didn’t seem to understand. For us looking back on what happened, it is easy to see how everything fits together, but for the disciples, who have only known the popular way of interpreting the prophecies, Jesus’ words don’t line up.

However, what the disciples do understand correctly is that Jesus’ ministry is coming to a significant point. This episode’s passage happens early on in the week while Jesus is teaching in the temple. Let’s read the passage and then uncover something amazing in Jesus’ teaching that we have touched on before, but not as directly as it is presented here.

Our passage comes from the gospel of John, chapter 12, and we will be focusing in on Jesus’ words starting in verse 23. We will be reading out of the New International Reader’s Version.

23 Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Son of Man to receive glory. 24 What I’m about to tell you is true. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only one seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it. But anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it and have eternal life. 26 Anyone who serves me must follow me. And where I am, my servant will also be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “My soul is troubled. What should I say? ‘Father, keep me from having to go through with this’? No. This is the very reason I have come to this point in my life. 28 Father, bring glory to your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven. It said, “I have brought glory to my name. I will bring glory to it again.” 29 The crowd there heard the voice. Some said it was thunder. Others said an angel had spoken to Jesus.

We’ll stop reading here to draw our attention to a truth I find amazing.

Often, we think of Jesus’ time in the garden as the only time He wrestled with the question of whether to go through with the cross, but here in our passage, specifically in verse 27, Jesus asks Himself the question and then promptly answers it.

Is Jesus thinking about ditching His cross? Nope. The cross is the reason Jesus came to this point in His life – but that is only a clue leading towards the truth I find amazing.

Jesus opens these verses by saying that the time has come for the Son of Man – which refers to Himself – to receive glory. Earlier in John’s gospel, we read that Jesus chose to not accept glory or praise from humans, so this must then mean that Jesus would receive glory from the Father. And this is exactly what happens seconds later, when God speaks from Heaven.

What surprises me about God the Father’s words is that they are not directed specifically at Jesus giving His life on the cross. Instead, they are more focused on this idea of glory. Jesus had called out for the Father to bring glory to His name, and the Father responds by saying that He has done so, and will do so again.

This prompted me to ask myself a series of questions, starting with, “What if Jesus’ mission was not just the cross? What if Jesus’ mission was to bring glory to the Father? Would this lens simplify or confuse the rest of the gospels?”

After asking myself these questions, I opened my attention to looking for other details in the gospels that focused on glory, and a number of the previous episodes have focused in on miracles and teaching Jesus did simply because those healed and those who witnessed would give glory to God.

It definitely seems as though Jesus taught, healed, and helped for the sole purpose of bringing glory to the Father.

However, Jesus’ opening words hint at something different: A time is beginning when the Son will begin to receive the glory. It began with God speaking, giving confirmation to the current point Jesus was in in His ministry, but then it also leads forward to the cross, the resurrection, and the return to heaven where Jesus was crowed as King.

Jesus did not seek glory from God or from others. Instead, He helped others as a way to bring glory to God.

While God the Father spoke from heaven, not everyone in the crowd understood what was being said. To some, it sounded like thunder, while to others, it sounded like a mighty angel responding to Jesus. This also tells us something significant: not everyone will correctly understand what God is saying or doing in the world.

In our own lives, we must be open to listening and looking for the ways that God is moving, and when we come to a possible place, we should not be quick to discount or rationalize it away from Him. God often will work through ordinary people, through seemingly unrelated coincidences, and/or through simple methods. Very rarely is it a grand voice from the sky.

In our lives, instead of waiting for that clear voice to tell us to move forward, perhaps we should instead seek to be like Jesus and take on His mission of giving God glory and praise.

What would happen if all of us didn’t keep any glory for ourselves, but passed it all along to Him?

What would happen if we turned the spotlight off of ourselves and onto what God has done and on what He is currently doing?

It is my belief that only after we have redirected the praise and glory to God can we then move into a deeper relationship with Him.

This leads us right into the lesson I’ll leave you with at the end of this podcast:

Focus on pointing all the glory, praise, and honor to God; as you study the Bible, look for examples of Jesus opening the way for God the Father to receive glory; and in everything you do, never stop growing towards becoming the person God wants you to be while He leads you along His path for your life!

Flashback Episode: Season 1 – Episode 37: Cam focuses in on an idea Jesus shares about the single focus of His life, and the big reason He chose to face the cross.

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