Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.
- John 12:27
Jesus entered Jerusalem in triumph. Even Greeks want to meet him. And yet he’s troubled. Why?
Most of us would feel like we had arrived. What could be better than this? We might be tempted to punch Jesus on the shoulder and tell him to buck up: “Sure, a few Pharisees aren’t on board. But they’ll come around. The people love ya, kid.”
For Jesus, the adulation of the crowd and the interest of his fans didn’t soften the edge of his ultimate purpose. He knew he came to Jerusalem to die. He knew that the applause wouldn’t last forever (it never does). He knew not to judge the hour by the first few minutes.
Difficulties and dangers lay on the horizon for Jesus. And they do for us, for us individually and as a community. The complicated terrain of the Christian life is full of both mountains and valleys, of steep cliffs and craggy ascents, of green pastures and dry, thirsty lands.
Jesus showed tremendous courage as he faced his fated hour. He didn’t distract himself with the diversion of the acclaim. He faced his trouble and moved forward. He does this by re-asserting with full conviction exactly what his mission was to begin with.
The comforting applause of the crowd is like a Siren’s song, inviting Jesus to step off the path that leads to the cross and into a much less painful future. But Jesus clings to his core conviction about his mission. The mission trumps everything, no matter where it leads and no matter what it costs.
All of us will face trials, difficulties, hardships, or the temptations of short-cuts and cheap, happy-endings. Just like Jesus, in those moments we have to clarify what’s most essential and cling to it. What are we here on earth to do? Love God, love our neighbor. Follow Jesus, no matter where he takes us.
How would you articulate your core convictions? How would you summarize what you’re here on earth to do? How might that clarity empower you in the face of temptations or challenges today?