Summary: John continually speaks of a mysterious hour with little to no explanation. Like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, the reference to “the hour” is important clue to understand Jesus in John’s gospel.

Palm Sunday is a significant marker for God’s people. It’s the day where Jesus enters into Jerusalem to kick off a week of monumentally important event. The citizens of Jerusalem greeted Jesus with palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna” as he entered the city on the back of a colt. Our story picks up on all probability on the following day, Monday of Holy Week. On Friday, He is crucified and on Sunday, He arises. On this Monday, an alarm clocks sounds in the mind of Jesus that functions more like a “dog whistle” where only He can hear it. But soon we all sense the hour at hand for this alarm clock was globally significant. Jesus realizes Heaven’s clock has reached a climatic hour – it’s now time for Him to act.

Today’s Scripture

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

27 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. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 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?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them” (John 12:20–36)

If I asked you, “What time is it?,” you might look at your watch or your phone for the time.

But if I asked you to define time itself, you may simply scratch your head when you hear Webster’s Dictionary’s perplexing definition of time: “…a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future.”

“Time is money,” or so we’re told. And because time is money, in 2014, the most precise time clock in the world was developed at the base of the Rocky Mountains on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. It loses one second every in approximately 300 millions years and it is used to time-stamp billions of dollars in US financial transactions every business day. Time clocks are synchronized to more than 400 highly such atomic clocks around the globe. This one atomic clock in Colorado receives more than 8 billion automated requests per day to synchronize clocks in computers, network devices, and many devices than help us keep precise time.

Even America’s “Favorite Past-time” knows the importance of time. Major League Baseball is seeing its popularity wane verse sports such as the NFL and with an ever-increasingly long games, Baseball has used a time clock in spring training this past season. Known as a pitch clock, pitchers have twenty seconds to throw the next pitch or face a penalty.

It seems like the only person who doesn’t understand the importance of time is pastor during the Sunday sermon!

But no one knew the importance of time more than Jesus. Only days before His death, Jesus tells His disciples, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23b).

1. The Hour Has Come

On the surface, some people wish to meet Jesus and approach His disciples to secure a meeting. These Greeks approach Philip and he, in turn, approaches Andrew, who both go to Jesus. We would expect Jesus to say something to the effect, “I’d love to meet these men.” In a surprising direction, Jesus seemingly looks at invisible watch on his wrist to announce to all, “My hour has come.” The hour had arrived.

1.1. John’s History of “The Hour”

When you begin reading the gospel of John, you hear as if it were a quiet musical score underneath all the stories that grows increasingly louder and more frenetic as you turn the pages. Beginning piano students will know the importance of keeping time to the metronome. John’s gospel works like a drumbeat that starts low and slow and only increases in volume and tempo, Jesus is listening to the percussion sounds from another place. John continually speaks of a mysterious hour with little to no explanation. Like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs, the reference to “the hour” is important clue to understand Jesus in John’s gospel. When Mary, Jesus’ mother, asked him to do something about a possible embarrassing situation at a wedding several years before, Jesus said, “My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4b). Jesus spoke of the hour again when He told the famous “Woman at the Well” about a future hour that was coming when people would worship God everywhere (John 4:21). Jesus also spoke about a future hour when every dead will hear His voice and come out of their graves (John 5:28). And while in Galilee, Jesus’ stepbrothers approach Him. They advise Him to go to a religious festival in Jerusalem so He could attract more disciples. But, Jesus mysteriously declined their request and refused to travel south to Jerusalem saying, “My time has not yet come…” (John 7:5; 8). And then we read how twice people sought to arrest Jesus but to no avail because “his hour had not yet come” (John 7:30; 8:20). Jesus always had an eye for time for He knew when the hour was and when it was not. His enemies could not kill Him, His brothers could not convince Him, and even His mother could not understand Him, all because Jesus was following a clock that no one else could read.

Jesus mysteriously spoke about an hour that was coming but “the hour” was always in the future. Now with the arrival of these Greek men, Jesus bursts forth with an announcement, “the hour has arrived.” Jesus seems to totally ignore these men and there’s really no reference to them again.

And how did Jesus know that the decisive moment had arrived? Did God the Father tell Jesus about the significance of the time or did Jesus know the time was at hand because of certain events that had transpired in the past few days? There was many to pick from: the raising of Lazarus from the dead, Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, or His chasing the money changers out of the Temple. All of these significant moments seem to combine to initiate something in Jesus that functions like a dog whistle for only He perceives the climatic moment. Now Jesus stands at the threshold of a door, a seminal moment in time that will advance the world clock in ways only He can know. Again, you could feel a crisis building like the musical score to a move building the tension in the room. Now, everything has turned on a dime, if you will.

1.2 The Hour of Glory

Again, Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23b). Now, the Disciples are watch Jesus surrounded by a small crowd surrounds them. But Jesus speaks to none of these, instead He turns to speak to One Above who is unseen. He turned to Heaven and prayed, “Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:28a). And Heaven responds to Jesus’ prayer with a voice that sounds like a clap of Thunder: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (John 12:28a). For only the third time in the gospels, the voice of the Father speaks. God the Father’s voice was heard once at Jesus’ baptism and again at His transfiguration.

God confirms that He both hears His Son’s prayer and He promises to answers His prayer. Rather than appealing to His Father for deliverance, Jesus is praying instead that the Father’s reputation would be intensified by the upcoming event in the upcoming days. In fact, we can confirm: Everything God has done, everything God is doing, and everything God ever will do is all for the purpose of showing us His glory (Romans 11:36). Jesus is praying that the name of God will stand out before all other names to show how His rich power, His magnificent truth, and splendid grace in welcoming sinners.

What “hour” is Jesus referring to? Later, Jesus offers a clue: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). Jesus’ departure was the cross.

1. The Hour Has Come

2. The Hour Has Consequences

Jesus calls His death on the cross His hour of glory. Now, how is someone’s experience of the Roman form of capital punishment an hour of glory? How can anyone death’s be the spotlight of their life? And how could a death by capital punishment reserved for hardened criminals be something that God will enhance His reputation?

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:24-25). Jesus said in effect, “Look at the farmer across the road. Just as spreads his seed, it will go into the soil and die. But after it’s death, there will be a great harvest.”

2.1 Jesus is Tormented by the Hour

How does Jesus feel now that this hour has finally come? He’s scared of it; He lives in dread of it. The horror and misery that He fully knows awaits Him in the coming days makes a deep impact upon Him – it torments His very soul. No sooner has He spoken about His hour coming than he blurts out a prayer: “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” (John 12:27). The Disciples could sense the very voice of Jesus tremor at this moment. This was really unusual for nothing really was capable of shaking Jesus.

When a crisis pops up out of nowhere, do you have resiliency and grit under pressure? When you think of someone who is cool under pressure, who comes to your mind?

I think of Winston Churchill who led Great Briton against the Nazis when defeat was at hand. Years before, a young Churchill had served as a military officer when his armored train was ambushed while in South Africa in 1899. He was then marched offer to prison camp where he soon escaped by scaling a prison wall in the middle of the night. He hid in a mine shaft for three days to escape those searching for him. Perhaps he developed some of the grit there that later served him when he spoke to the people of England as their Prime Minister.

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin...

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

But few people had the resiliency of spirit as Jesus. He could look Pilate in the eye as Pilate threatened the power of death over Jesus. Jesus didn’t back down from the threat of Herod but instead said, “You tell that I’m going to nowhere” (Luke 13:32). And Jesus doesn’t fear even the Sanhedrin at his trial.

Yet, in contrast to all this, Jesus feels a certain turmoil here: “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” (John 12:27). Yes, Jesus stood at the crossroads. He was horrified by the preview of His death but the thought of following anything other than God’s path for His life equally appalled Him. And just three days later, Jesus will pray at Gethsemane, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Jesus’ soul was shaken because He was take on Himself the crushing judgment of God’s wrath on His lips. Only days from our story, John would be holding Jesus’ mother while Jesus’ very blood was splattered over his face. He would watch his friend and his Master’s muscles spasm to gather air on the cross. This hour is in inevitable because this hour is the Father’s will.

Jesus was conscious from the start of eternity that everything was moving to this hour. Something inside Jesus could feel the divine time clock moving forward at this moment. Because Jesus knows the Hour has come, He predicts Peter’s denial and the Disciples will scatter (John 16:32). Because Jesus knows the Hour has come, He sends Judas on his way to betray Him. Because Jesus knows the Hour has come, He even succumbs to the torture of the cross. “Now is the judgment of this world…” (John 12:31a).

2.2 This Hour Saves or Judges the World

God the Father has designated Jesus, the Son as the One to judge all of us: “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man” (John 5:27). Jesus’ resurrection will raise every dead body back to life for judgment: “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29). It’s after your resurrection and my resurrection that Jesus tells us He will sort out who is evil and who is good.

Followers of Christ have ALREADY placed all your judgment on Jesus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). Everyone say with me, “Already.” You can escape judgment by embracing Christ and His cross by faith today. And because of Jesus and His cross, Christ has purchased my pardon and invincibly secured me from hell and my destruction all by His blood.

One of the greatest queens in the history of Great Britain was Queen Elizabeth. She launched the ships which smashed the power of Spain and saved England from the papacy and the Spanish Inquisition. She reigned for forty-five years. Yet, when she passed away at the age of seventy, she reportedly said, “I would give all my possessions for a moment of time.” Yet, because of Jesus and His cross, I can say at the end of my days, my judgment is over for I have passed from death to life. I belong to Him – He is my Savior and He is my God.

1. The Hour Has Come

2. The Hour Has Consequences

3. The Hour of Clemency

Remember, all this talk of “the hour” was precipitated by some religious outsiders who had sought to talk with Him. “So these came to Philip … and asked him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’” (John 12:23). Now, He comes back full circle to let everyone know everything He’s said. All that Jesus has said is in order to tell us the meaning of His death: “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die” (John 12:33). Jesus came, lived, died, and rose for this purpose: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32) “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice” (John 10:16a).

Life Conversation: Three Circles

God has a design for your life and every single area of your life. This includes our lives as singles and married and our children. But instead of following God’s design, we rebel against Him. And the Bible calls this sin. Whenever we break God’s design for our lives, we end up in a place of brokenness. And everyone can agree that being broken hurts. We start searching to escape the pain of our hurt. Brokenness is God’s designed way to tell us that something has to change. We know something has to change. The solution to our brokenness is the gospel. The gospel is how Jesus Christ takes mercy and anger together.

God’s anger is constantly against evil. And we’re told God invented the cross where Jesus died for our sins out of His anger because He hates sin. He has to pour His wrath and His opposition out on it. Yet, He wanted to do it in such a way that didn’t destroy sinners. How can he deal with the sin and channel His anger so it didn’t destroy us but destroys the evil and destroys the sin inside of us? On the cross. It was both His love and anger that gave Him the impulse to invent the cross and have Jesus die on the cross. His anger and his love both come together on the cross. There he’s able to save us and pour out his wrath on sinners at the same time without killing us. The change that has to take place is described by two words: repent and believe. The gospel gives us a new power to recover God’s design for our lives.