SET-2: Season of Elijah-Cross-Moses
Jesus was in anguish over the forthcoming passion he was about to face. He prayed aloud in public to the Father to save him from that hour of torture. Instantly, Jesus acknowledged his goal of incarnation as the redemption of humanity through his selfsacrifice. He surrendered himself for the glory of the Father’s name. The Father accepted the glorification as a voice from heaven. However, the bystanders differed in their understanding of the voice they heard from heaven. They considered it as thunder or as a revelation through an angel. The heavenly voice was for the people present, Jesus said. He revealed his death on the cross by which he would drive out Satan from the world. Jesus promised he will draw all people to himself. However, the crowd questioned the death of the Messiah, who, according to their knowledge, should rule forever. Jesus, realizing their misunderstanding of the Christ, responded by presenting himself as the light that came in their spiritual darkness. He invited them to join his light to become children of light.
BIBLE TEXT: JOHN 12:27-36
The Son of Man will be Exalted
(Jn 12:27) Now my soul is in distress. What shall I say: ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, I have come to this hour to face all this. (28) Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and I will glorify it again.” (29) People standing there heard it and said it was a thunder; but others said, “An angel was speaking to him.” (30) Then Jesus declared, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours; (31) now sentence is being passed on this world; now the ruler of this world is to be driven out. (32) And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw everyone to myself.” (33) With these words Jesus was referring to the kind of death he was to die. (34) The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man shall be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” (35) Jesus said to them, “The light is with you but only for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you. He who walks in the dark does not know where he goes. (36) While you have the light, believe in the light that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he withdrew and kept himself hidden from them.
Raising Lazarus on the fourth day after his burial intensified the popularity of Jesus (Jn 11:1-44). Because of this, more Jews believed in him. Hence, the Sanhedrin met to decide on what to do with Jesus (Jn 11:45-47). Their concern was that if all their people believed in him, the Romans might invade their nation. So, they plotted to kill Jesus and Lazarus (Jn 11:48-12:11). When Jesus went to the Temple for the Passover, the crowd welcomed him, waving palm branches and acclaiming, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, [even] the king of Israel” (Jn 12:13). That sparked the ire of the Pharisees against Jesus. Meanwhile, the Greeks who came for the feast approached Jesus through Philip and Andrew. Jesus then spoke to the people on his hour of suffering and glorification (Jn 12:20-26).
The Son of Man will be Exalted
(Jn 12:27) Now my soul is in distress. What shall I say: ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, I have come to this hour to face all this.
Now my soul is in distress
The synoptic gospels present the agony of Jesus as having happened in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-46; Mk 14:3242; Lk 22:39-46). Instead, John presents the agony here. As the Son of God, Jesus knew the horror of the torture he was about to face. He had to overcome his human yearning to evade the impending passion and crucifixion. His preparation for self-sacrifice became traumatic because he foresaw his misery. As a human, he experienced fear and the temptation to opt for an effortless way of redeeming humanity. So, he verbalized his emotions to the Father in front of his disciples and others who stood around him.
When Jesus said, “my soul is in distress,” he meant his life or mind was in misery. His expression of agony resonates and fulfils Psalm 6:3-5. “Have pity on me, LORD, for I am weak; heal me, LORD, for my bones are shuddering. My soul too is shuddering greatly – and you, LORD, how long? Turn back, LORD, rescue my soul; save me because of your mercy.” Jesus did not use his divine power to escape while facing persecution. He suffered mentally and physically as a full human.
What shall I say
Jesus expressed aloud his request to the Father. Though mentally troubled, Jesus was firm in accepting his mission. As a human, he faced internal conflict because of his foresight of the torment ahead. So, he verbalized his anxiety and confusion. This was a natural expression of anyone who wilfully accepts challenges.
‘Father, save me from this hour’
Jesus used to say, his “hour” had not yet come (Jn 2:4; 7:6; 7:30; Mt 24:36). The hour of Jesus was the time for him “to pass from this world to the Father” (Jn 13:1) by fulfilling his mission through his passion, death, and resurrection. Though it was his wilful act, his enemies had to implement it. So, it was their hour, and “the time for the power of darkness” (Lk 22:53).
Though it would seem Jesus prayed to escape the terrible turmoil, it was more an expression of his anguish. As a human, he expressed his sentiment for relief. He did not complain or despise the Father, but sought His support to fulfil the task successfully. Jesus knew he would be victorious in his mission for human salvation. Like a child pleading with his father, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” Then the Father strengthened him by sending an angel from heaven (Lk 22:42-43). Hence, Jesus gained the mental strength to assume his task. This was also his way of showing his disciples the right approach in their lives when they face persecution.
No, I have come to this hour to face all this
Jesus reminded himself of the purpose of his coming to the world. The Father had designated him as a ransom to be offered for regaining forever humanity’s loss of paradise. When Peter struck Malchus, the high priest’s slave, with a sword, Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” (Jn 18:10-11). So, Jesus was convinced that he was fulfilling the will of his Father. He wanted to teach his followers as to how they should gain the eternal reward by taking up their God-assigned cross and follow the footsteps of Jesus.
Jesus could evade the passion he had agreed with his Father. Unlike Adam, this new Adam faithfully obeyed the Father and overcame the temptation to run away from the turmoil. Jesus gained power through prayer to prevail over the test. He did not misuse his divine power when he confronted the arrest and trial. Instead, he made up his firm decision to face any challenge ahead of him.
Our First Parents failed in their test by Satan. Jesus succeeded in tackling his temptations. As disciples of Jesus, we will also face similar tests to enter through the gate that is “wide and the road broad that leads to destruction” (Mt 7:13). So, Jesus taught us to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Mt 6:13). In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told his disciples, “Pray that you may not undergo the test” (Lk 22:40).
(28) Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and I will glorify it again.” glorify
The literal meaning of glory is being highly renowned for one’s notable achievements. A person will gain glory for his or her outstanding accomplishments in education, business, authority, invention, production, or philanthropy. For example, Michelangelo gained universal acclaim for his Pieta. Mother Teresa won international admiration for her service to the less fortunate. The parents gain glory when, through their effort, their children attain accomplishments.
God’s glory is in Himself and in His creation. Since there is no being equal to God, His glory is clear in Himself. His creations manifest his glory. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of his hands” (Ps 19:2). “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the LORD’s glory, just as the water covers the sea” (Hab 2:14). God created the humans as the summit of all his creations for His greater glory. “All who are called by my name I created for my glory; I formed them, made them” (Isa 43:7).
The heavenly creatures continuously glorify God in heaven. In Isaiah’s vision of heaven, he saw the Lord seated on a lofty throne where the “Seraphim cried out to the other: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts! All the earth is filled with his glory!” (Isa 6:1-3) John saw four living creatures representing the universal creation exclaim day and night nonstop, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come” (Rev 4:8). They acclaim, “glory and honour and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever” (Rev 4:9). Twenty-four elders representing the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles fall down before the LORD and worship him. “They throw down their crowns before the throne, exclaiming: ‘Worthy are you, Lord our God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things; because of your will they came to be and were created’” (Rev 4:10-11).
The Israelites saw the glory of God as a cloud when they were in the wilderness (Ex 16:10). When the cloud covered the tent of the meeting, they understood that the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34). The glory of the LORD had filled as a cloud in the Temple Solomon built (2 Chr 5:14). The goodness of the LORD shows favour and grants mercy to whom He will. That also is the manifestation of God’s glory (Ex 33:18-19).
Jesus glorified his Father through his earthly ministry. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). When Jesus was born, the angel of the Lord appeared to shepherds in Bethlehem. Then “the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk 2:9). “And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests’” (Lk 2:13-14). Jesus is the refulgence of the Father’s glory (Heb 1:3). He worked for the glory of the Father (Jn 14:13). Jesus shared the glory of the Father for eternity. Towards the end of his ministry, Jesus prayed to the Father: “I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began” (Jn 17:4-5). According to Paul, the Gospel is also the glory of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:4-6).
Father, glorify your name
Though Jesus knew he would gain glory through his passion, death, and resurrection, he preferred to glorify the Father for his achievements. Jesus was accomplishing the mission his Father had entrusted to him. It resembles a winner who gives credit for his or her success to the couch. Like Jesus, we also should glorify the Father, who is the source of all the goodness we have.
Then a voice came from heaven
Other occasions when the voice came from heaven to Jesus were at his baptism (Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22) and at the Transfiguration (Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 9:35). The voice from heaven is the communication of God the Father to humans in an understandable vocal language (Deut 4:12). A thunder-like effect, or a cloud’s appearance, might accompany it. Such a voice was the proclamation of the divine will or judgement. It differed from prophetic communication, where God addressed directly or through a vision to the prophet alone. In the voice of heaven, the bystanders could hear it regardless of their relationship with God. When Jesus called Saul, “a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him,” and he heard the voice of Jesus. “The men who were travelling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one” (Acts 9:3-7). Similarly, the people present with Jesus also could hear the voice because it was the Father’s witness of the Son intended for the bystanders so that they would not get scandalized by the surrender of Jesus to his persecutors.
“I have glorified it and I will glorify it again”
God had glorified Jesus at his birth, during his public ministry, and in his miracles that came to a climax with the raising of Lazarus on the fourth day of his burial. When Jesus heard of the sickness of Lazarus, he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (Jn 11:4). The Father assured Jesus and the people present there that He would continue glorifying Jesus through his death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement at His right hand. During the Last Supper, Jesus revealed the betrayal of Judas. When Judas left to betray Jesus, he said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once” (Jn 13:31-32). Thus, even the passion and death prior to his resurrection and ascension were part of his glorification.
The Church Jesus established will also glorify the Father. God sent the Holy Spirit on the apostles to continue his glory in the world through the Church. The faithful followers of Jesus glorify the Father. Jesus said to the disciples, “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (Jn 15:8).
Jesus asked us to glorify God in our words and deeds. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to glorify God, saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Mt 6:9; Lk 11:2). During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:16).
(29) People standing there heard it and said it was a thunder; but others said, “An angel was speaking to him.”
People standing there heard it and said it was a thunder
The people standing around Jesus could hear the voice from heaven. They felt it was like thunder, a natural phenomenon, or a divine intervention. The Israelites associated thunder with divine manifestation. During the theophany at Mount Sinai, “there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud blast of the shofar, so that all the people in the camp trembled” (Ex 19:16; 20:18). “His voice roars, his majestic voice thunders; he does not restrain them when his voice is heard. God thunders forth marvels with his voice; he does great things beyond our knowing” (Job 37:4-5). There are other references to the majestic or thunderous voice of God (Job 40:9; Ps 29:3-4; 18:13). So, there might have been thunder along with the voice. But it was unclear to those who identified it as natural thunder.
others said, “An angel was speaking to him”
When there was a divine voice heard from heaven, people wondered whether it could be an angel talking. There were Jews who believed that God spoke through angels and not directly to the humans (Heb 2:2; Gal 3:19). During Paul’s trial in the Sanhedrin, a dispute arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. “A great uproar occurred, and some Scribes belonging to the Pharisee party stood up and sharply argued, ‘We find nothing wrong with this man. Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?’” (Acts 23:9). Thus, they surmised Paul’s call from Jesus as being a voice from a spirit or an angel. So, those who could not recognize the voice interpreted the event as a divine revelation through an angel.
The apostles who knew Jesus could recognize the voice of God in answer to Jesus’ prayer. But others did not understand the divine revelation. It is natural that people comprehend differently the same event or communication. However, all realized divine intervention had taken place at that moment to support Jesus during his agony.
(30) Then Jesus declared, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.”
Then Jesus declared
The people discussed what type of voice it was. Though that was clear to the disciples of Jesus, for others who were determined to underestimate him, considered it only as thunder, just some divine intervention, or simply the voice of an angel. Hence, Jesus clarified the purpose of the Father’s voice from heaven.
“This voice did not come for my sake”
Though the voice came from heaven in response to the agonizing prayer of Jesus, it did not intend to console Jesus because he already knew his future glory. He was already convinced of the purpose of his incarnation that he had voluntarily taken up. Jesus’ prayer before he raised Lazarus expressed the intention of his prayer as not for his own sake, but for the people at large – “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me” (Jn 11:41-42).
“but for yours”
In the present context, “yours” could mean the Greeks who approached Jesus through the mediation of Philip and Andrew. They lived outside Palestine and had only heard of Jesus and not witnessed any of his miracles (Jn 12:20-22). Hence, the agonizing prayer of Jesus in public and the Father’s loud response was primarily for the Greeks, and also for the disciples and others around Jesus. They needed to get a full picture of the passion, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus before their happening. The bystanders should understand Jesus as the Messiah, and there was victory and glory ahead of him. His followers should not get concerned about the apparent failure of Jesus in this world.
(31) Now sentence is being passed on this world; now the ruler of this world is to be driven out.
Now sentence is being passed on this world
Though “now” stands for the present moment, it was also a future that Jesus foresaw. Within days, God would raise him from the dead and have him ascend him to heaven. Then he would draw his believers to himself (Jn 12:32). With that salvation in view, Jesus projected the liberation of sinners that would come to its culmination at his second coming to judge the world and to destroy Satan and sinners. So, Jesus implied in the “now”, the immediate victory of his resurrection and the progression towards the completion of his triumph at his second coming.
Now sentence is being passed on this world
In the Biblical sense, judgement is implementing justice of reward or punishment, based on the choice one makes for or against God. The salvific activity of Jesus involves judgement. Like our First Parents who had the freedom to obey or disobey God, the people have the choice to accept or reject salvation gained for them by Jesus. So, the judgement happens based on one’s own choice of accepting the gospel of Jesus. He said, “I came into this world for judgement” (Jn 9:39). Those who accept him will gain an eternal reward in heaven, and those who reject him will end up in eternal punishment. However, the last judgement will happen only after his return from heaven in his glory. Jesus said, “If anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day” (Jn 12:47-48).
The ruler of this world
Satan, who was successful in instigating the transgression of our First Parents, could gain control over humanity. God said to Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers” (Gen 3:15). The conflict continues in the world today. According to Jesus, Satan is the prince of the world, and he has no power over Jesus (Jn 14:30). At the third temptation of Jesus, the devil “took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, ‘All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me’” (Mt 4:8-9). Jesus did not object to the devil’s claim of ownership of the world. Instead, Jesus said, “Get away, Satan! It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve’” (Mt 4:10).
Paul presents Satan as the god of this world (Eph 2:2). He wrote, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:4). “Put on the armour of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Eph 6:1112).
Now the ruler of this world is to be driven out
Jesus came to counteract the effects of the sin of our First Parents. Paul wrote, “Just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous” (Rom 5:18-19). With the ministry of Jesus, “the ruler of this world has been condemned” (Jn 16:11). Thus, he fulfilled the words of God to Satan: “They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel” (Gen 3:15).
We need obedience to God’s Son to drive out the influence of the devil in our lives. When the seventy-two disciples returned after their village ministry, they rejoiced and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus replied, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky” (Lk 10:1718). It will continue until the second coming of Christ. Paul wrote, “Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:24-26). According to John’s vision, “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire (this pool of fire being the second death). Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire” (Rev 20:14-15).
(32) “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw everyone to myself.”
And when I am lifted up from the earth
When Moses lifted a bronze serpent in the desert, the snake-bitten people could approach it and rescue their lives. Jesus referred to it as the foreshadow of his crucifixion and the revival of the spiritual lives of sinners who believed in him. Jesus had clarified this to Nicodemus – “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15). Crucifixion was also a means to reveal the divinity of Jesus. “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM” (Jn 8:28). Hence, the cross became a symbol of salvation. Taking up the cross for Jesus thus became a means for our resurrection with Jesus and to inherit lost paradise forever.
Though the symbolism of the installation of the bronze serpent foreshadowed the lifting of Jesus on the cross, it also implied his resurrection from the dead (Mt 28:7), and ascension to heaven (Acts 1:9). After that, the Father seated him “at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church” (Eph 1:2022). The faithful will exalt Jesus in their lives by their Christian witnessing in the world. Paul wrote, “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain” (Phil 1:20-21).
I shall draw everyone to myself
While Jesus was on the cross, he allowed the salvation and recognition of the following persons:
1. While Jesus was carrying the cross to Calvary, Simon the Cyrenian helped Jesus. The Lord blessed him, and his sons Alexander and Rufus, with the grace to became popular Christians (Mk 15:21).
2. Jesus promised paradise to Dismas, who was a criminal and was on another cross beside his (Lk 23:43).
3. The centurion who took leadership in crucifying Jesus witnessed the extraordinary events at the death of Jesus. He “glorified God and said, ‘This man was innocent beyond doubt’” (Lk 23:47).
4. When the people who were at the foot of the cross saw the astonishing events at the death of Jesus, “they returned home beating their breasts” (Lk 23:48).
5. “One soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out” (Jn 19:34). According to legend, that soldier was Longinus, a blind centurion who got healing when the blood from the heart of Jesus fell upon his eyes. He became a Christian. The Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Churches, Armenian Apostolic Church, and Coptic Orthodox Church consider him a saint.
6. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who were hitherto secret admirers of Jesus, came out when Jesus was on the cross to take the initiative with regard to procedures concerning his burial.
7. The cross has become the universal symbol of Christianity and we Christians venerate the cross and find relief in it from our sufferings.
Though human cooperation is involved, salvation is purely a divine prerogative. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:44). By attracting all to himself, Jesus saves them through his teachings and presents them to the Father.
I shall draw everyone to myself
Everyone here means all humanity, including the Jews and the Gentiles in all nations. This was contrary to the Jewish concept of salvation. According to them, it was only for the chosen people of Israel. Jesus opened the gates of heaven to the chosen people in his Church that would welcome all who will accept him as their redeemer.
(33) With these words Jesus was referring to the kind of death he was to die.
The evangelist here gives his interpretation of the significance of what Jesus had said above. He knew that his death would take place on a cross as a sacrificial lamb and that it would happen during the Passover week, a sacrifice that would replace all animal sacrifices in the Temple.
John documented Jesus’ prediction of his death on the cross to the Jews and to Nicodemus. Jesus said to the Jews that they would crucify him and then only they would recognize his divine identity. “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM” (Jn 8:28). “I AM” is the name of God (Ex 3:14). Jesus told Nicodemus of the parallelism between the restoration of physical life from snakebite in the desert when Moses lifted up the serpent and the revival of spiritual life after Jesus’ crucifixion. “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15).
(34) The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man shall be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”
The crowd answered him
The response of the Jews was based on the statement of Jesus, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw everyone to myself.” His claim of being “lifted up from the earth” and as the “Son of Man” was confusing to them.
We have heard from the Law
The Law here implies the whole Old Testament (Jn 10:34) where there are prophecies on the everlasting rule of the Messiah when he comes.
the Messiah remains forever
The Messianic expectation is that he will rule the kingdom of God forever. In God’s covenant with David, He promised the Messiah will be a descendant of David and his royal throne will last forever (2 Sam 7:13). God said of the Messiah, “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgement and justice, both now and forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!” (Isa 9:6). Daniel reported his vision on the Messiah, “I saw coming with the clouds of heaven one like a son of man When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendour, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed” (Dan 7:13-14).
How can you say that the Son of Man shall be lifted up
The question the Jews had was that if the Son of Man, the Messiah, was going to end his life, how can he take the throne of David and rule Israel forever? Their understanding of the Messiah differed from that of Jesus. The Jews expected a Saviour who would free them from the Roman government and rule in peace for eternity. However, Jesus was holding onto a spiritual kingdom, his second coming leading to a perfect kingdom.
Who is this Son of Man?
The Son of Man, or God incarnate, Jesus, somehow did not fit in with the understanding of the Jewish leaders concerning the Messiah who, they surmised, has everlasting governance and, so, should not die. Though there were prophecies of a suffering and dying Messiah in the Bible (Ps 53), the Jewish scholars ignored it.
(35) Jesus said to them, “The light is with you but only for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you. He who walks in the dark does not know where he goes.”
Jesus did not give a direct answer because he knew that his listeners were largely prejudiced against him. Instead, he presented himself as the light of the world and asked them to make use of it to follow his path of salvation.
The light is with you
Jesus came as the light of the world amidst its spiritual darkness. It fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone” (Isa 9:1; Mt 4:16). Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn 8:12).
but only for a little longer
While healing a man blind from birth, Jesus said, “We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (Jn 9:4-5). Jesus was available for the public only for over three years. Though Jesus continues giving light to the world through his Church, our opportunities and lifespan to make use of that light are short.
Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you
Jesus invited the people to walk with him to the destination of eternal salvation. The day will not last long because the sunset happens at the destined time. Since the darkness will overshadow the light, the present is the time to act. If we are late to follow Jesus and idle our Christian responsibilities away, we will miss life’s finest opportunities.
He who walks in the dark does not know where he goes
Though darkness is a physical reality, the underlying meaning for Jesus here is the spiritual light. By default, the darkness was in the universe from the beginning. The original source of light was God because He created the sun, the moon, and the stars as early as on the fourth day of creation. From childhood, children need guidance and protection from parents and others. So also, we need spiritual guidance through the Church. Light helps us to follow the way in the right direction. Without Jesus and his representatives, we might end up in spiritual darkness and fall into eternal destruction. While criticizing the Pharisees and the Scribes, Jesus said, “If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit” (Mt 15:14).
(36) “While you have the light, believe in the light that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he withdrew and kept himself hidden from them.
While you have the light, believe in the light
Those who believe in Jesus and received his baptism are in the light that helps to move to eternal life. However, the Christian has to keep his light burning with the oil of grace we receive from Jesus through the sacramental life of the Church.
that you may become children of light
Since God is the source of light, those who live in communion with Jesus and his Church are the children of God, which Jesus calls the “children of light”. While teaching the parable of the dishonest steward (Lk 16:1-8), Jesus used “children of light” for his followers (Lk 16:8b). We must become the reflection of God’s light to non-Christians. Jesus taught, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden” (Mt 5:14). Our good works for others should become the guiding light for the non-believer to reach Jesus, the light of the world (Jn 8:12). Paul advised the Ephesians, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth” (Eph 5:8-9). “All of you are children of the light and children of the day. We are not of the night or of darkness” (1 Thess 5:5).
After Jesus had said this, he withdrew and kept himself hidden from them
After long hours of discourse and public service, Jesus would move to a secluded place for prayer, rest, or for the private training of his apostles. When there were attempts to arrest or assassinate Jesus, he escaped from the enemies because his hour had not yet arrived (Lk 4:29-30; Jn 8:59; 10:39).
1. When Jesus was distressed, he relied on God the Father. When we work for the Church or for the God-assigned responsibilities in our lives, we also may get stressed out. However, let us seek relief in prayer.
2. Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” He became an example for us to accept the will of the Father even during the time of distress. Let us pray for fulfilling God’s will in our lives and families.
3. Jesus sought the glory of God through his carrying of the cross. He never strove after self-glory. He taught us to pray, “Hallowed be thy name.” Let us glorify God for all our achievements through the exemplariness of a life of prayer and charity.
4. While praying for relief, Jesus also expressed his willingness to accept God-assigned hardships, seeking nothing but the glory of God. The Father glorified him and exalted him above all creation in heaven. God will also elevate us in the afterlife if we but follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
5. Though the Father’s voice from heaven was for those gathered around Jesus, the people by and large differed in their respective responses. We experience similar varying reactions to the gospel even today. Jesus was never disappointed when people misunderstood him whether unintentionally or purposefully. Let us also do our part and let God yield the result. The setbacks in our Christian witnessing should not dishearten us.
6. Jesus turned the cross that symbolized failure, shame, extreme pain, and death to a sign of salvation and victory. The cross has become the universal symbol of Christianity. As Jesus promised, he draws all to himself for their relief and eternal salvation. Let us also seek hope and comfort on the cross.
7. Jesus foresaw his crucifixion as part of his mission in this world and voluntarily accepted it. It is following his example that missionaries risk their lives for evangelization. Let us pray for them and support them.
8. Jesus came as the light of the world and established the Church to continue as the light of the universe. Many who had gained light through baptism lost their light and returned to spiritual darkness. Let us pray for them to regain their spirituality.
9. Most parts of the world are still in spiritual darkness. We, as members of the Church, have the responsibility to share the light of Jesus we have received with others, so all can enjoy the eternal banquet Jesus promised for his faithful in heaven.