John 12:20-33 | 5th Sunday of Lent, Year B
The Faith of Living in the Uncomfortable
I have been volunteering with the IB program at Dow High for the past three plus years, and in all the research I’ve done and the many conversations with parents and students I’ve had about IB, I believe the essence of the program is: students (and parents) have to be willing to “live in the uncomfortable.” It’s not a fun a place to be, and we’d all rather settle in a place we feel secure. But only when you are willing to “be in the uncomfortable” can you truly begin to see another side to any story.
In these verses of John, when Jesus comments rhetorically, “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father take me from this hour?’” (v. 27), I thought about this premise of IB. Jesus knew asking the Father to take Him out of the situation wouldn’t serve the higher purpose. Jesus was willing to “live in the uncomfortable”.
The way we grow is by failure, yet any parent knows how hard it is to let our children fail. We want to set them up for success. We want them to be happy. We don’t want to see them uncomfortable. If our children turn to us and say, “Take us away from this,” chances are we’ll do it, or at least we’ll strongly consider doing so.
Jesus didn’t even give His Father the choice. He never asked to be taken from the uncomfortable, and by worldly standards, He failed. He suffered the most ignominious of deaths being crucified on a cross. Just before, He was forced to drag His own torture device down the Road to Calvary in what most viewed as humiliation heaped on top of defeat. By all logical reasoning, Jesus failed. What parent wouldn’t have seen all of Jesus’s good work and buckled, swooping into save Him? Of all parents, Jesus’s Parent most could have done that. But God didn’t.
As John records it, Jesus goes on to say, “it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (v. 28). Jesus suffers ultimately to glorify God. Maybe that’s the whole point of whether suffering is worth it—if it’s for our own ultimate gain, then perhaps suffering’s worth is questionable. But if the suffering is for God’s glory, then suffer away! I’m thinking of something pretty surface—like a diet. How many of us haven’t “suffered” on a diet? If it’s because we want to rake in the compliments, then is said diet a good call? But if the exact same eating plan is so we can be healthier and ultimately able to do more for God, then the calculus around the “suffering” changes. “The Lord sees the heart” (1Sam16:7), even if we try to fool ourselves about our motivations.
Jesus’s eyes were always on the Father. He was willing to “live in the uncomfortable” because there was a greater purpose to His pain. Earthly pain was not the end, despite how it looked at Calvary. Living in the uncomfortable takes great faith to know that there’s a reason for the pain and that reason is worth the cost. Jesus had it that level of faith in spades. But do we?