Suffering and Glory

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
~ John 12:23 ~

In the fourth Gospel we frequently come across the mention of Jesus’ “hour.” This hour is sometimes referred to by the author (7:30; 8:20; 13:1), but more often by Jesus himself (2:4; 7:6, 8; 12:23; 17:1, 5; cf. 12:27, 28; 13:31).[1]

It is said several times over in the first half of the book that his hour had not yet come. But beginning in chapter twelve, his hour is impending.

His hour is the time that had been appointed by the Father for his suffering and death, to be followed of course by his resurrection and ascension. In several of these passages Jesus’ hour is mentioned in connection with him receiving glory from the Father (12:23, 27-28; 13:31; 17:1).

It is also worth noting that in all these passages Jesus looks past his suffering and death, and looks to receiving glory from the Father. He doesn’t say, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be crucified,” but “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” In his mind, the reward of his suffering far outweighed its sorrow. The writer of Hebrews says much the same thing, but in a slightly different way when he says, “for the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2). He looked past the present suffering to see the glory that awaited. He knew that the sorrow of the cross would be swallowed up by joy.

This is also true of our trials and afflictions. No suffering is ever joyful in itself. We would never choose it for its own sake. But he who remains faithful in the midst of suffering can also hold in joyful anticipation what Jesus looked forward to—receiving glory from the Father. Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that “there will be glory and honor and peace for everybody who does good” (Rom. 2:10). This is the joy that is set before us—obtaining glory and honor and peace from God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The glory that we are destined to receive will be different from that of Christ’s in kind as well as in degree. But it will nevertheless be true that God will glorify his saints. And when he does, we will be able to testify by our own experience what we now only confess by faith, that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

[1] These last three passages do not explicitly mention his “hour” but nevertheless refer to it with the temporal use of the word “now.”


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