The Hope of Easter: The Scope of Our Hope John 12:20-26
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
In verse 23, we see a significant statement by Christ. Up until this moment, the “hour” of Christ has been still in the future (see 2:4, 4:21 7:30, 8:20). But now the “hour” is at hand. The life of Christ has been a movement towards a climax. It was governed by a purpose that was not fully realized or manifested until now. It had been hinted at, it had been veiled, but now is the time for its full disclosure and realization. That hour is the death, resurrection, and exaltation. The glorification of Christ and the manifestation of his purpose and genuine nature are now about to be revealed.
Yet the path to His glorification will be achieved through His death, as described in verse 24. Throughout the gospels, the title “The Son of Man” was used in reference to either His identification with suffering or to His return as the Messianic King. However, as D.A. Carson points out, “Here the two are fused, not only because of Jesus’ death is the first stage on his way to receiving glory, but also because Jesus’ death was itself the supreme manifestation of Jesus’s glory. It is not just that the shame of the cross is inevitably followed by the glory of the exaltation, but that the glory is already fully displayed in the same.” The cross becomes the place where His glory is displayed as He reveals the depth of His redemptive grace.
However, there are two significant statements that bracket this passage and provide us insight into the redemptive purpose of Christ. First, it is vital to notice what precipitated the discussion regarding the arrival of the hour. What sparked the discussion was not a question from the Jews or the disciples but the desire of some Gentiles to gain an audience with Christ. The arrival of the hour is significant in that it revealed that the gospel, realized in the death and resurrection of Christ, is now for not just the Jews but also the Gentiles. The irony is that the Jews reject Christ while the Gentiles seek Him. Its contrast points us to the significance and scope of Christ’s salvation. The establishment of the New Covenant, inaugurated with the death of Christ, encompasses both Jews and Gentiles and brings both into a new covenant community.
Secondly, just as Christ must go through death to attain life (verse 24), so we also must go through death to obtain life (verse 25). The story of the cross is not just a story of Jesus; it is a story that we ourselves must embrace. The death that He speaks of is not our physical death but our dying to ourselves and our idolatrous obsession with our own desires. To die to self is to no longer live by our self-interests but to surrender our life and will to Christ. It allows Him to have sovereign oversight and control of our desires, wants, interests, dreams, morality, and purpose. To serve Christ, we must obey Christ, and to obey Christ is to serve Him. This becomes the basis for our fellowship with Him even as it defines His relationship with the Father and is the basis for our glorification. Just as the obedience of Chris resulted in His exaltation, so our obedience results in our exaltation.
The hope of Christ is now available to all, both Jew and Gentile. The arrival of the hour of Christ brings salvation to all people, both Jew and Gentile, who are willing to die to self and embrace Him. In an increasingly hopeless world, this is the hope for all humanity. Good Friday and Easter is to be our story and our hope as we embrace the life He offers us.