Explore Jesus' humanity and divine mission, understanding his vulnerability and the significance of seeking God's approval.
John 12:27-30 — God’s Approval — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel. Today we will reflect on John 12:27-30. Listen.
[Jesus said:] “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.”
Jesus says, "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." This open expression of distress and existential angst reveals the human aspect of Jesus. The other three gospel writers also reflect on his vulnerability, especially in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, and Luke 22:39-46).
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is in a more intensely emotional state. He is deeply distressed about the immediate prospect of his suffering and death. He prays to God, asking if it is possible for this cup to be taken from him. The cup, of course, is a metaphor for his suffering. This scene is a more vivid portrayal of Jesus grappling with the human fear of pain and death. Both narratives, while different, contribute to a fuller understanding of the “humanness” of Jesus.
Returning to our passage, Jesus then says, “Father, glorify your name!” As if in affirmation, a voice comes from heaven saying, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
Some scholars take the voice from heaven as a literal, supernatural occurrence, where God audibly speaks to affirm Jesus’ mission and impending sacrifice. Others interpret the voice as a symbolic representation, perhaps as a way for the Gospel writer to convey the divine approval and affirmation of Jesus' mission. Given John’s tendency toward symbolism in almost everything he writes, I am inclined toward the latter explanation. However, the conclusion remains the same: Jesus has the approval of the Father.
The divine approval that Jesus receives from the Father is not just a testament to Jesus' mission but also provides a lesson for us. It highlights the importance of seeking and receiving divine approval in our own lives.
What does this mean?
For us, seeking God's approval is about aligning our desires, actions, and life's purpose with God's will. It is moving away from seeking validation from worldly sources—such as social status, material success, or even the affirmation of others—and turning instead towards God’s approval. This shift is critical in developing a faith that is rooted not in external accolades but in a deep, personal relationship with God.
Let us also understand that the approval of the Father, as seen in this passage, is a source of strength and affirmation for Jesus as he faces his impending crucifixion. Similarly, when we face trials, challenges, or moments of decision, knowing that we are in alignment with God’s will can provide a profound sense of peace and purpose. It offers us the courage to face difficulties not with fear or uncertainty but with the confidence that comes from being in sync with God.
God bless you.