In our church we are engaged in a study of the Gospel of John. Recently we looked at chapter thirteen which begins a significant section of the gospel often referred to as The Upper Room Discourse. It is in this section of John’s writing that Jesus spent time alone with His disciples immediately before His arrest and crucifixion. It was a time of instruction but it was also an intimate time when He poured out His heart to them and prepared them for their world to be shaken to its foundation.
The first words of the chapter set the tone for what follows: Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end (verse 1). So much packed into so few words. Jesus knew that His hour had come.
For some time the actions of Jesus had been guided by the fact that His hour had not yet come (John 2:4, 7:30, 8:20), but now, in His omniscience, He knew that the time had come for suffering and death.
While we recognize the importance of His suffering, we are tempted to reason that in His deity Jesus knew that death was followed by life; the grave by resurrection; suffering by glory. It was this knowledge that allowed Him to submit to the horror that was crucifixion without fear. If we knew that death would not be the end we too could endure untold suffering for a brief period of time. Maybe. Probably not. Reasoning like this ignores His humanity.
But ignoring His humanity poses several problems. First it removes the intensity of His suffering. Roman crucifixion was one of the most barbaric and excruciating forms of death ever devised by man. Only those who lived through the scourging were crucified. Many never made it that far. The prophet Isaiah tells us that His physical appearance was so marred that it was not possible to recognize Him (Isaiah 52:14). Deity does not lessen pain.
Ignoring the humanity of Jesus also devalues His trust in a God of grace. It was His knowledge that God was with Him and would sustain Him in His hour of need that carried Him through. Even though Jesus knew that His death was not the end, it was His conviction that He could trust God for resurrection that gave Him the strength He needed to endure.
Which brings me to this: If Jesus could trust God in His darkest hour is there any time when we cannot trust Him? Is there any circumstance, any trial, any suffering when we cannot put our lives into His hands and trust Him to carry us through? Grace is needed most in the darkest hour and that’s exactly when it comes.
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