John 12:27-36 – The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up

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POSTED 06 NOVEMBER, 2017

“‘Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from this hour”? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.’ Then a voice came out of heaven: ‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, ‘An angel has spoken to Him.’ Yeshua answered and said, ‘This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.’ But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. The crowd then answered Him, ‘We have heard out of the Law that the Messiah is to remain forever; and how can You say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”? Who is this Son of Man?’ So Yeshua said to them, ‘For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.’”

reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume I

When many of us think about the nature of Yeshua, and specifically the question, “Is Yeshua God?”, as humans we are naturally drawn to thinking of our Great God coming down to Earth in all of His power—a Supreme Being directly interacting with much smaller beings. Of course, in Ancient Near Eastern and classical Greco-Roman mythology, when gods and goddesses would come down to Planet Earth, it was often not just in their mighty, supernatural power, but often with the intention of enslaving humans and/or using them as pawns in some sort of battle or war with other gods and goddesses. In John 12:27-35, our natural, human perception of what it means for God to come down to Earth, is definitely challenged.

Yeshua the human was submitted to the will of His Heavenly Father. Knowing that the time for His humiliation and execution was coming, Yeshua experienced some agony. As He is recorded as saying, “Now I am in turmoil. What can I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour” (John 12:27, CJB/CJSB). Rather than seeing some quick reprieve for the difficult task which needed to be done, the time for Yeshua’s work of sacrifice to be accomplished had arrived: “Father, save Me from this hour [of trial and agony]? But it was for this very purpose that I have come to this hour [that I might undergo it]” (The Amplified Bible). Yeshua recognized that the Heavenly Father would be glorified in the obedience of the Son (John 12:28a), and so He spoke from Heaven, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” (John 12:28b).

When many heard the voice of God proper speak from Heaven, they thought it was either some form of loud thunder, or an angel speaking to Yeshua (John 12:29). Yeshua directed that they heard was not for Him, but them (John 12:30). Although Yeshua’s statement, “Now is the judgment of this world! Now the prince of this world will be driven out!” (John 12:31, TLV), has multiple dynamics to be considered—the principal ones involve how with Yeshua’s coming sacrifice for human sins, the stronghold that Satan has over the world will be decisively broken, and he will be effectively defeated (cf. Colossians 2:14-15; Hebrews 2:14-15) until his final sentencing (Revelation 20:10). Yeshua’s sacrifice is something which will affect all of humanity, as He specified, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32, ESV). As it is narrated, “He said this to signify what kind of death He was about to die” (John 12:33, HCSB).

Yeshua’s audience was confused about what He was saying, as it is recorded, “The multitude therefore answered Him, ‘We have heard from the Torah that the Messiah abides forever; and how can You say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”? Who is this Son of Man?’” (John 12:34, PME). Based on a number of Messianic expectations from the Tanach, these Jewish people no doubt expected the Messiah to come, defeat Israel’s enemies, restore the Davidic Kingdom, and reign on an Earthly throne for a perpetually long period of time. No one can totally blame Yeshua’s audience for not really understanding what would happen to Him. Yet, in their own questioning, “We have heard from the scripture that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” (John 12:34, HCSB), their answer for considering the ultimate identity and purpose of Yeshua is found. The Danielic Son of Man is a figure brought before the Ancient of Days, being granted ultimate power over all of the redeemed Creation:

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14, NIV).

Once again, to consider that this exalted Son of Man—before whom the entire universe will need to pay homage (cf. Philippians 2:10-11)—would be humiliated and sacrificed, willingly, for human transgressions (John 12:27-28, 32-33), significantly highlights the value of the salvation provided in Him. We too frequently take these things for granted, because as Believers in Israel’s Messiah, we are beneficiaries of events which have already taken place in history. Those who were participating in these events in the First Century C.E., did not quite know what was going to happen with Yeshua being executed, His resurrecting from the dead, and His ascending into Heaven. So, given the limitations of His audience here, Yeshua simply admonished them to believe in Him while they still had the Light, Himself, so that they would be reckoned as children of light, and not be overtaken by darkness:

“Yeshua said to them, ‘The light will be with you only a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, or the dark will overtake you; he who walks in the dark doesn’t know where he’s going. While you have the light, put your trust in the light, so that you may become people of light.’ Yeshua said these things, then went off and kept himself hidden from them” (John 12:35-36, CJB/CJSB).

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