As we meditate on “the hour” Jesus referred to in John 12, let us ponder:
Deep within eternal ages past, even before the Triune God made the earth (Prov. 8:26), the Lord God conceived a plan and this plan centered on “the hour” – at the appointed time, God would establish a people in the midst of a fallen world, whose beauty would be holiness (1 Peter 2:9). His people would be mighty and glorious, sharing in the eternal and gracious love experienced within the Godhead (John 17:24), transcending even the angelic hosts whose myriads everlastingly encircle His throne, worshipping and adoring Him (Isa. 6:1-3; Rev. 7:9-10), each one a beloved and precious jewel in HIs crown (Mal. 3:16-17, were already known to HIm, their names written in HIs book of life (Rev. 20:15).
The heavenly Father, the Originator of the plan sent forth His Son, Jesus, and the Son ventured forth from glory as a token of HIs love for the Father and as a manifestation of His affection and love for those whose names had been written in the great book of life (John 10:14-15). The Son set forth to do the will of the Father, the most important part of which would be His sacrificial atoning death to secure the redemption of those names.
Each step of the way, from heaven’s glory to earth’s gloom was an experience of deepening humiliation. His seat at the Father’s right hand was vacated; clothing Himself in flesh (Heb. 2:9-18), He entered the world, having been conceived by the Spirit in a virgin’s womb (Gal. 4:4-5). His birth was of the lowliest kind, the throne of eternal splendour replaced by a stable’s squalor, and His life among men without an abiding resting-place (Luke 9:58).
We may ask why the Son of God had to stoop so low in order to rescue lost sinners. Why was He obliged to suffer so profoundly before they could be raised to new life in Him? The answer: to whatever depths man in his depravity had sunk, the sinless Saviour had to sink lower, whilst remaining sinless, if He was to deal with the cause of man’s fall. The message from heaven faced reality and sent one who was capable of plummeting to the very spot where the victims lay helpless and bound. They who were slaves to sin (John 8:34) required the divine Slave to set them free, and for an eternal rescue to be secured the rescuer had to possess both the experience of the offender and the essence of the Offended One (Heb. 4:15). Only the Son of God’s being ‘made flesh’ (John 1:14) could satisfy the situation.
He, who was ‘in the form of God…equal with God’ (Phil.2:6-11), became a slave, having divested himself of personal rights and status in an act of eternal love (John 13:1). The one before whom all heaven bows, the Creator (Col.1:16), was willing to serve rather than be served (Mark 10:45). The deity became flesh and that flesh also bore all the hallmarks of servanthood in a full surrender to the needs of others. Surrendering HImself as a slave, before Jewish contempt and abuse Jesus ‘reviled not again’ (1 Peter 2:23); at the mercy of Roman violence He ‘gavel no answer’ (John 19:9); under the scourging He submitted without reserve and when led to Golgotha was ‘as a lamb to the slaughter’ (Isa. 53:7). Upon the cross He hung naked and bleeding, with nothing to call his own, except his pure love for the Father, a dignity in suffering unmatched by any other and an engrossing love even for those who had crucified him.
He was the Master making atonement for His subjects, the Slave ministering to the enslaved (Ps. 22:1-8).
As the hours passed, the Christ of God was slowly made aware of a depth of anguish that far outweigh his physical sufferings, and one which he had not known before. He had been expecting it, for it was for this moment, ‘this hour’, that he had been born. Blackness of the deepest hue descended upon his soul. Sins, merely ‘covered'(Ps. 32:1) by various legal offerings (Ps. 40:6), rose up from the depths of ancient times and filled the soul of Christ (Rom. 3:25) as they had been directed to do so. Sins, too, which had already been committed, in thought, word and deed, by Jesus’s contemporaries, and those which were yet to be conceived until the end of time, flew to the cross. A fearful spirit of isolation gripped his soul, as he was ‘made sin’ (2 Cor. 5:21), causing him to shout out, as one ultimately desolate, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). The sacrificial Lamb of God had been ripped open and ‘flayed’. The Lamb was experiencing the torments of eternal retribution that the elect deserved. By Christ’s passive obedience on the cross, both God and His commandments were satisfied. At the same time, Satan and sin were dealt a blow from which there could be no recovery, and satanic principalities were overthrown triumphantly (Col. 2:14-15).
The moment Jesus whispered, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30), heaven was filled with unending praise and every recess resounded to everlasting songs of exultation. Christ’s work was completed and God had made HIs peace with sinners (Luke 2:14)! The ‘hour’ has come and gone. This is the hour Jesus had anticipated throughout his adult life; He had dreaded it, wrestled in prayer over it (Matt. 26:42) and wept about it (Heb. 5:7).
God’s profound love for His chief creation desired and planned man’s redemption, complete reconciliation with the one offended and restoration of the love-filled,love-orientated, unity between God and man experienced in Eden. It is a love ‘vast, unmeasured, boundless, free’, for it included the sending of no less a person than His own Son to make the supreme sacrifice (John 3:16) in bearing the curse of the broken law in his body. Paradise had been lost, but it was also to be regained.
As we meditate on the wondrous amazing love of the Triune God, as we ponder the great sacrifice of the Saviour; as we wonder how the holy God could ever love wretched sinners like you and me – are our hearts filled with overflowing gratitude and our eyes filled with tears of unworthiness and love??
Dare we ever question and doubt His love; dare we ever turn away from One who is our Creator, our Master, our Father and our Friend??