You can never say he didn’t try to warn them. He has been telling them for the better part of three years now; “eventually, it’s going to become unpopular to hang out with me. Soon enough people are going to ask you if you’re with me or against me. At some point I’m not going to be around anymore – and you’re going to have some decisions to make about me and all the stuff I’ve said.” Now, the pressure is becoming palpable – and it’s time to give everyone a final chance to hear from him what the right choice will be when the opportunity presents itself.
John 12:27-36 (ESV)
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
The tension and anxiety are rising. People are asking questions in public, and worse yet, he knows what’s being done in private. At some point today, one of his best friends will seek out the opportunity to turn him over to those who wish him dead. Those who follow him have seen his outburst in the temple, they have heard him speak of ‘eating his flesh and drinking his blood,’ they can feel the perception of him starting to swing – and not in the direction they were hoping and expecting. It’s getting harder to believe that everything is going to work out. People are talking, others are plotting, and Jesus doesn’t seem to be doing himself any favors.
There are still those today who don’t understand who Jesus is and what he really stands for, much like those who lived in his day. Some of his friends aren’t doing him any favors either. We all like to preach and proselytize about him, but do we really know him? Have we really listened to all that he has had to say to us? Have we heeded the warnings about persecution and pain, or are we still eagerly anticipating popularity and prosperity? Are we readying ourselves to stand by him in the darkest hours, or will we sell ourselves to the highest bidders? He has told us, he has shown us, who he really is, what he is capable of, and yet we are scared to walk alongside him, for fear of what other people think. When the breaking point comes, we will have to pick a side. Who then, will we choose?
Jesus has drawn a proverbial line in sand. He continues to use language that speaks to who he really is, and why he has come to this time and place. It is making him a target, along with any who would align themselves with him. The moment is coming when people will have a decision to make – are they with him or against him? Have they heard and believed all he has had to say, or are they still walking in darkness? The Pharisees have their man, their plan, and they lay in wait – ready to seize him and put an end to all this unholiness. They think they are in control now, but there is a much greater plan already at work. There has always been, and they are but eager and willing participants in God’s plan to reconcile his whole creation back to himself. It’s been the plan all along – it’s not like he hasn’t tried to tell us.