As we consider further the Lord’s death in John 12:23-33, in verse 28 He concludes His short prayer to His Father; “Father, glorify Thy Name.”
The Lord’s Death in Relation to His Father
Here is the Lord’s definitive answer to His own question of verse 27, “What shall I say?” He is giving expression to what He regarded as most important in relation to the death He would soon accomplish, namely, that the Father’s Name would be glorified.
Glorifying the Father
This is the burnt offering aspect of Calvary, the theme all through John’s gospel, that His death would be for the Father’s glory and delight. We need to appreciate this Godward aspect of the death of Christ, because if there had been nothing for God from Calvary, then there could have been nothing for man. If there had been no glory for the Father, there would be no blessing for man. As believers in our Lord Jesus, we readily think of His death in relation to ourselves, and all the blessings we receive – redemption, reconciliation, justification, etc. But we do well to think of His death firstly in relation to the Father; it brought eternal glory to the Father’s Name.
Even if not one sinner from among the sons of Adam was saved, Christ’s death would still have brought eternal glory to God. At Calvary, all of God’s righteous claims were met, and His holy character was perfectly displayed. Because of this Godward aspect of the death of Christ, we have absolute assurance of salvation, because our eternal security is not depending upon our detailed understanding of all that took place at Calvary, but rather it depends upon all that God has found in the death of His Son. We know God has been eternally satisfied and glorified, and thus we know our salvation is assured.
The Bearing Away of Sin
We need to have large thoughts about the death of our Lord. It is a wonderful thing for every believer to appreciate with Paul, “the Son of God Who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20). But if all we ever appreciate about the death of Christ is our own blessing, then our thoughts are somewhat insular, and do not take account of what God the Father received from Calvary. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to Him, he did not say, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away my sin.” John surely believed that to be true, but led by the Spirit of God he appreciated the largeness of what would be accomplished by the sacrifice of the Lamb, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John was appreciating all that will be accomplished for God because of Calvary, even a future day when the last vestiges of sin will be removed from this universe.
God rested after creation, because “God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). When sin entered through the disobedience of Adam, all was marred; creation was no longer as it had been. But because of Calvary, and the voluntary sacrifice of God’s Son, all that was lost in Adam will ultimately be fully restored back to God; He will restore that which He took not away (Psalm 69:4). Once we appreciate Calvary’s sacrifice in this light, we begin to see how the Father’s Name is eternally glorified.
The Father’s Delight in His Son’s Sacrifice
We do well to get beyond ourselves, and appreciate something of what there was for the Father in the day of the Lord’s death, that He died primarily for God, for the Father’s glory. The blessing of salvation for sinful men was consequent upon that truth. Solomon wrote, “The day of death is better than the day of one’s birth” (Eccl 7:1), and for Christ that is true. The day of His birth in Bethlehem was good, there was “glory to God in the highest” (Luke 2:14). But the day of His death outside Jerusalem was better, for at Calvary the Father was eternally glorified by the death of His Son. He willingly submitted to His Father’s will, in being “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8). The Father has been eternally glorified by such devotion of His Son.
The Father’s Confirmation
The Father responds in John 12:28 to the Son’s desire, with a voice that thunders back from heaven, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Here is the Father’s testimony, confirming that His Name had been glorified by the service of the Son to this point, and that His Name would be further glorified by the Son’s death and subsequent resurrection. In chapter 11, the Father’s Name had been glorified in the death and resurrection of Lazarus: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God” (John 11:4). Before the stone is rolled away, the Lord says to Martha (John 11:40), “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” Hence the Father’s confirmation, “I have both glorified it,” and further “will glorify it again” in the death and resurrection of Christ. He was “raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father” (Rom 6:4).
In John 12:29, the people that stood by heard this thunderous voice from heaven, and some speculated that it was that of an angel. The Father’s response must have meant much to the Lord Himself, but in verse 30 He tells the people, “This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes.” Such is the selfless mind of Christ, thinking not on His own things, but the things of others (Phil 2:4). Christ’s desire is for us all to appreciate the glory and delight that His death and resurrection have brought to God the Father.