As the Lord continues to explain His death in relation to Himself in John 12:23-33, we note in verse 27 how His soul is troubled in anticipation of an immensity of suffering. We are caused to appreciate the feelings the Lord Jesus had within His inward soul as He contemplated the sacrifice for sin He was soon to accomplish at Calvary.
The Lord’s Death in Relation to Himself
As the immensity of what lies imminently before the Savior is considered, He says, “Now is My soul troubled.” This is the sin-offering aspect of His death, for His suffering for sin particularly involved His holy sinless soul.
The Lord experienced much bodily suffering from men in relation to His death; the buffeting, the scourging, the crown of thorns pressed down upon His lovely head, the stripping and mocking. Men did their worst to Him, and these sufferings at the hands of men were very real to the Savior; we would not minimize them. But man’s sin requires the appeasing of God’s wrath, so we judge that these bodily sufferings inflicted by men were non-atoning sufferings, not with respect of sin.
For the three hours of darkness from the sixth to the ninth hour there were depths of suffering that the Savior entered into, as He experienced the wrath of a holy God against sin. These sufferings involved His sinless soul, when God made His Son, Who knew no sin, to be sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). Men did their worst to His body, but only God could touch His soul. In Isaiah 53:5, the wounding, bruising, and the stripe (singular, Newberry) are what He received from God, hence verse 10, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him.” Three times in Isaiah 53 there is reference to “His soul”: verse 10 “When Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin,” verse 11 “He shall see of the travail of His soul,” and verse 12 “because He hath poured out His soul unto death.” This is in relation to His suffering for sin, experienced in His inward soul, hence His anticipation of it in John 12:27, “Now is My soul troubled.”
The Lord’s Response – Straitened and Steadfast
With such suffering in prospect, the Savior continues, “And what shall I say? Father save Me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” As His soul is troubled in anticipation of the suffering of Calvary, the Savior desires no other pathway: “But for this cause came I unto this hour.” He was the Lamb of God, “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20). His hour of suffering and sacrificial death was ever in prospect. His coming into this world as a Man had always in view “the suffering of death” (Heb 2:9).
In Luke 12:50, the Lord says “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished,” referring to that baptism of suffering He would experience at Golgotha. There He would be immersed beneath the righteous wrath of the holy God on account of man’s sin, He would “sink in deep mire, where there is no standing” and “come into deep waters,” where the floods would overflow His soul (Ps 69:1-2). He felt “straitened,” restricted on either side, constrained, pressed such that He could not choose any other pathway. Never was there a moment when He was not steadfast in purpose to accomplish that which was the Father’s will, and would be for the Father’s glory.
At His incarnation, we hear the evidence of His straitened and steadfast Spirit, “Lo, I come … to do Thy will, O God” (Heb 10:7). At the age of 12, when in the temple, we hear the anticipation of being in the things of His Father, “I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). During His public service, we hear the expression of that straitened and steadfast heart, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). On the transfiguration mount, with Moses and Elijah, they “spake of His decease which He should (was about to, Newberry) accomplish at Jerusalem” (Luke 9:31), and thus He leaves again the very glory of heaven, comes back down the mountain steadfast in His resolve. “He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). He will further say, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests,” i.e., their places of rest, “but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). Such is His steadfastness, that He will not rest until Calvary’s sacrifice is accomplished.
The Lord’s Prayer to His Father
In John 12, at the end of His public service before men, the accomplishment of the Father’s will and work is now imminent. It is just a few days before His decease will be accomplished, and His soul is troubled in anticipation of all it will involve; the cost will be very great. But still He is absolutely straitened and steadfast, there is no thought for even a moment of any other pathway. He will go to Calvary with implicit trust in His Father, His prayer for preservation through it being “Father, save Me from (Greek preposition is ek, out from) this hour.” There is this petition for deliverance, the sense being “bring Me safely out from this hour of suffering,” followed immediately by the divine understanding, “But for this cause came I unto this hour.”
Our blessed Savior never for a moment shrank from the pathway laid before Him. How precious it is for believers in the Lord Jesus to appreciate that the Son of God, Who loved us and gave Himself for us, never wanted to be anything other than our Savior! We say in response “Hallelujah, what a Savior!”