[This post was first published in April 2014.]
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:23)
According to John’s gospel, Jesus utters these words shortly after entering Jerusalem at the beginning of this holiest and darkest of weeks. The atmosphere is heavy with speculation that Jesus could be the one to spearhead the revolution that will finally throw off the shackles of Rome. The crowd, willing to believe this, fêtes Jesus as king as he rides into the city, completely missing the symbolic significance of the fact that he is riding not on a white charger but on a donkey’s colt.
Given so much hope of glory among both the populace in general and Jesus’ own disciples in particular (not long before, they were still arguing about who would get the best seats with Jesus in heaven), it’s easy to imagine how they might have understood Jesus’ comment that it was time for him to be glorified. Yes! It’s going to happen! Jesus is finally going to take his rightful place and ascend to his throne!
They were right: Jesus was going to take his place. But what they didn’t realise was this: in a world that prizes strength, ambition, power and cunning, enforced by violence and kept in motion by sacrificial religion, there is only one fitting place for a God who is and always has been infinite mercy and love: the cross.