Translation and commentary on John’s Gospel
JOHN 12: 27
(Jesus said) Now my soul is troubled. And what am I to say? ‘Father, rescue me from this hour’? But for this cause I came to this hour. Father, give honour to your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have honoured it and I will honour it again.”
Then the crowd that stood by and heard it, said that there had been thunder; but others said, “An angel spoke to him.”
Jesus responded and said, ” This voice has not come for my sake but for yours. Now the judgement of the world is here; now the ruler of this world will be thrown out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” I said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
The crowd responded, “We have heard from The Law that the messiah remains for ever; how can you say, “The Humane Ruler must be lifted up”? Who is this Humane Ruler?
Jesus said to them, “For a little time yet the light is amongst you. Walk while you have the light, in case the darkness comes upon you, for someone walking in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the light, put your trust in the light, so that you many become children of light.”
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went off and hid himself from them.
This passage continues the story of the Greeks who came asking for Jesus, which he took as a sign that his “hour” had come, when he as the Messiah of Israel hasto “fall into the ground” so that the history of Israel might bear fruit in the Gentile world. The Gospel writer will spend several chapters defining the meaning of Jesus’ hour.
Here he refers obliquely to the Gethsemane narrative in the other Gospels where Jesus prays that the cup of suffering may pass from him. Here he rejects this as unworthy of his calling and asks that God will act so as to enhance his reputation amongst humanity. The divine voice affirms that He has already revealed himself for this purpose and will again do so in Jesus’ hour of death.
Jesus teaches that the events of his hour will pass judgement on the world. His revelation of other- worldly truth will unseat the Evil One who rules only by worldly power. The “lifting up” of Jesus is the suffering caused by human beings who lift him up on an execution stake; and at the same time the glory given him by God who lifts him up into his eternal power. Together these dimensions of “lifting Jesus up” will attract the trust of human beings.
An enforced death however was not the conventional understanding of the Messiah’s role, so the crowd expresses its disquiet, using the identity tag that Jesus has made his own, “the Humane Ruler”, the God-sent king whose power is directed to human good. (Daniel 7:7)
Jesus however reverts to his designation if himself as the light of the world. In grave words he tells them that he will shed his light for only a little more time; then they will not be able to see the true way. He appeals to them, at this last hour, to place their trust in him.
The reader begins to see the writer weaving together all the different strands of his story of Jesus, creating a complex image of his nature and mission.