Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that 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 standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walkwhile you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
My soul is troubled. It has been for some time. But these days, my soul is troubled on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. There is horrific violence in society and in schools as I am considering how to be a loving parent to my child who will soon be going to school. Leaders of societies possess little humility and almost no concept of servanthood. Nazis and White Supremacists exist and are given airtime. Perhaps most troubling to me is the health of creation (the environment, if you prefer, although calling creation “the environment” separates us humans from everything else in creation which is a false notion) seems more fragile than ever before. Again, leaders are ignoring basic science and common sense and destroying ecosystems for the sake of money. These are troubling times indeed.
My reaction is often that of Jesus’ initial response: “Father, save me from this hour.” This is the notion of the rapture—that God will instantly whisk God’s beloved away so that they (we?) don’t have to face the trouble and tumult of the world. However, there is no biblical truth in this idea. And Jesus points out that God does not save us from trouble; God empowers us to be witnesses to love and life in the midst of trouble and death. Jesus goes so far as to say that he and those of us who follow him come to times of trouble in order to glorify God in the way that we handle the uncertainty and fear that plague these times. Like Joseph in the midst of famine or Esther as her people faced genocide, we do not hide. Like the prophets when no one listened, we shout all the louder. Like the small shepherd boy David as no one is willing to take on the giant Goliath, we volunteer, perhaps to be slaughtered. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego we proclaim, “No matter what you do to us, we still will not serve you as you are not God.” Like Jesus from the grave, we rise. It is time to accept the troubles in which we live and glorify God with our response.