Each day this week, we’ll offer a short reflection on a reading, or a portion of a reading, for Holy Week. We hope that you find this to be helpful as you observe this week of the proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus for us sinners. Today’s reflection looks at a portion of the reading for Holy Monday in the one year lectionary, which is John 12:1-36.
–By Elizabeth Ahlman
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man” (John 12:27-34, ESV)?
“Who is this Son of Man” questions the crowd as Jesus predicts His death. They recognize that “be lifted up” refers to the kind of death He would die. They recognize, even, that He is claiming to be the Christ. But they cannot comprehend who THIS Christ is. Who is this Christ who will suffer and die? Who is this Son of Man who says that the ruler of this world will be cast out by His death on a cross? Who is this Christ whose Father speaks to Him in thunder? Who is this Christ who has come to this hour for this purpose, that is to glorify the name of God through His death?
The crowds certainly are not sure. Who is this Son of Man? As far as they can tell, the Christ is to remain forever. And of course death would preclude that. If one dies, one does not remain forever. If the Christ dies, He cannot do all that which they expect of Him.
Jesus, however, is not in the business of doing what the crowds expect or being who the crowds expect Him to be. Jesus is in the business of being the Christ, the Son of Man, who takes on the sins of the world though He is blameless, and bears the punishment of we sinners upon the cross, facing the wrath of the Father and the death we were meant to die. This Christ, Son of Man, glorifies the Father by willingly submitting to the bloody and cruel death of a criminal so that those who ask, “Who is this Son of Man” might find in Him the answer. This Son of Man, this Christ, is the crucified Lord, both God and man, born of the Virgin Mary. He is the Son of Man who comes to call you out of darkness into His light. He is the Son of Man whose death makes you at peace with God and who places the Triune name on you in your Baptism. He is the Son of Man whose body and blood are given and shed for you to take and eat, take and drink for the forgiveness of your sins. This Son of Man is the one in Whom the Father is glorified and the world is rescued.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Son of Man who takes away the sin of the world and brings glory to the Father through Your suffering death; grant that we may always know You as our Lord and Savior, so that we may be able to answer those who ask us “who is this Son of Man” with bold confidence and hope; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.