“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you…” (John 17:1).
At first glance, there seems to be a number of contradictions or tensions in the special time or hour. Christ will be “glorified” because it was for this hour that he came into the world. We are talking here, obviously, not about a sixty minute period but rather about what might be called “the appointed time”. His fidelity to the Father and the accomplishment of his saving work would indeed bring him glory; and yet, there was something within him that would have preferred another way. Why is this? Given his identity, there was no way that Jesus could be touched by sin or concupiscence. There is a harmony between his human and divine natures. Nevertheless, there appears to be a momentary hesitation. “My Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). We are not dealing with cowardice or even simple fear. Only a deranged or morally sick person would want to suffer and die a painful death. Jesus was a divine person, but his human nature was whole and intact. This experience is the ultimate proof that Jesus was no phantom pretending to be a man. Any healthy and sane human being would agonize over the prospect of being tortured and murdered. Facing the harsh truth about mortality, we become intimately engaged with reality and the ultimate questions. We want to live and know happiness. We do not want to suffer and die. Given that our Lord was the sinless one, the absurdity of death is even clearer. Death was a consequence of sin. Jesus did not have to die. However, he made himself a sin-offering, dying that we might know eternal life. He satisfies the redemptive price that we owed but could not pay. Jesus experiences the explosive power of “an existential angst” but notice how he immediately responds. He rededicates himself to the mission given him by his Father. There is no getting around it or running away. The Son of Man is betrayed by a friend into the hands of sinners. And yet, divine providence is still running its course.