In the introductory article, I noted that in John 12:23-33 the Lord explained the significance of His death in relation to Himself, His Father, the world, the devil, and all humanity.
Speaking of His death in relation to Himself, notice three particular points:
v 23 – His heart rejoices in anticipation of an hour of glorification.
v 24 – His heart rejoices further in anticipation of a bounty of blessing.
v 27 – His soul is troubled in anticipation of an immensity of suffering.
Think first of His heart rejoicing in anticipation of being glorified as the Son of Man: verse 23 “The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified.”
The Son of Man
The very idea that the eternal Son of God, a divine Person, should die is a great mystery. It necessitated His incarnation. Hebrews 2:9 tells us He became a Man, lower than the angels, with a view to the suffering of death, “that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” In John 12:23, the Lord refers to Himself as “the Son of Man,” His title in relation to humanity. He is the Son of Man as man’s representative, and as the Son of Man, He will lay down His life.
Different “Hours” in John’s Gospel
We need to consider what the Lord is referring to in verse 23: “The hour is come.” The references to “the hour,” “Mine hour,” or “His hour” throughout John’s gospel are many and varied; it must be the context in each passage which would dictate what is in view. For example:
John 2:4 – at the marriage in Cana of Galilee, the Lord says to His earthly mother Mary, “Woman, what have I to do with Thee? Mine hour is not yet come.” This, I judge, would refer to the hour of His manifested glory, His kingdom glory. The turning of the water into wine would be a picture of the joy of the coming millennial kingdom.
John 7:30 – the Jews “sought to take Him: but … His hour was not yet come.” This is simply the hour of His arrest, when He would be taken by men to be put to death. It would be the same thought in John 8:20, “no man laid hands on Him; for His hour was not yet come.”
John 13:1 – “When Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father.” The verse directly states the context, it is the hour of His departure out of this world to return unto the Father in heaven.
John 16:32 – “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come.” Again the context is stated in the verse, “that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own.” This is the hour of His forsaking, when His disciples would be scattered and leave Him alone.
John 17:1 – “Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.” This is the hour of His glorification as the Son of the Father (in contrast to the hour of His glorification as the Son of Man in chapter 12:23). I judge this is not His death at Calvary, or His dealing with sin or Satan, in view in chapter 17:1. The Lord in chapter 17 is in spirit beyond the cross and at the point of going back to the Father. This then is the hour of His imminent exaltation in heaven and His glorification by the Father as the Son of the Father.
John 12:23 – What then of the Lord’s words in chapter 12:23: “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified”? This must be considered in the context of His entrance into Jerusalem for the last time, and the clear references to His imminent death (“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die,” v 24). “The hour” in view here is His death upon the cross, but with the emphasis being the hour of His glorification as the Son of Man. It would again be the same hour in view in verse 27, “Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” Again this is the hour of His death at Calvary, but emphasizing in verse 27 the hour of immense suffering He would endure as the sin offering.
The Hour of His Sacrificial Glory
So, the death and sacrifice of Christ would be the hour of His glorification as the Son of Man. In chapter 13, when Judas goes out to betray Him, “Jesus said, Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him” (v 31). Thus at Calvary, even in such a scene of dreadful humiliation and suffering before men, I believe that the Lord was personally glorified as the Son of Man in submitting obediently to death, and in the perfection of the sacrifice He accomplished.
The hour of His glorification as the Son of Man at Calvary is God’s answer to what He endured in terms of His humiliation and suffering. The hour of His exaltation and glorification as the Son of the Father in heaven (John 17:1) is the Father’s answer to His life of service, the devotion He displayed to His Father. It is certainly true that Christ will yet be further glorified as the Son of Man in a coming day, when He will come again to this world that rejected Him, establish His millennial kingdom, and rule in power and great glory (see Dan 7:13-14, Matt 25:31, John 1:51). Yet, that future hour of His manifested glorification is based upon His hour of sacrificial glorification as the Son of Man upon the cross. By His sacrifice at Calvary, our Lord purchased the world, and when the question will be asked in heaven, “Who is worthy to open the book?” (Rev 5:2), containing the title deeds of this universe, the Lamb of Calvary alone will be the worthy One.