John 12:27 – “My Soul is Troubled”

Jesus praying in the gardenIn John 12:27 Jesus says his “soul is troubled,” yet he will not ask the Father to save him from “this hour.”  In the Synoptic Gospels this prayer made in the privacy of the Garden of Gethsemane, after the Last Supper. In John’s Gospel the prayer is similar, but it is in public. John also makes a connection to a theophany which may suggest a different context, perhaps in the Temple courts. Since the witnesses are described as a “crowd” it does not seem likely that this Peter, James and John in the Garden.

While Jesus is deeply troubled, he knows that the reason he came into the world to be rejected, executed and buried.   Jesus may be alluding to Psalm 6:3 or 42:5, 11. The words are closest to Psa 6:3 (LXX 6:4), the verb is a perfect passive in John rather than the aorist passive of the LXX, and the adverb σφόδρα (“greatly”) is not used in John. Nevertheless, there is enough verbal similarity to say that John intended an allusion to Psalm 6:3 when he chose these particular words.

If this is an intentional allusion to Psalm 6:3, it is possible that Jesus (or John) means to evoke the context of the whole Psalm. The first two verses of the Psalm are therefore important.  The writer is calling out to God to not rebuke and discipline him, to not pour out his wrath and anger on him. The writer says that his is languishing, that his “bones are troubled” (v. 2), that he is weary from weeping, his “eyes are wasting away” because of his grief (v.  6-7).

Psalmist asked the Lord to deliver him and save him because in death he will no longer praise God (6:4). Perhaps this is the point of the allusion as well as the rhetorical question in John 12:27.  The allusion to Psalm 6 therefore emphasizes the inevitability of the suffering of Jesus which is about to occur. Jesus knows that his suffering will lead to death, but also that his death will not result in the silence of Sheol. Unlike the psalmist, Jesus knows that his death will result in vindication when God “raises him up” (John 12:32).

Unlike the writer of Psalm 6, Jesus is suffering willingly.  In fact, it is for “this very hour” that Jesus came into the world. The phrase “this hour” is always significant in John’s gospel, referring to the time of Jesus’s crucifixion. The writer of the Psalm asks “how long” until he is vindicated, while Jesus says that he cannot possibly ask to be saved from the hour.  If he is in fact the obedient Son sent by the Father, Jesus must endure the suffering of the Cross.

Similar to his baptism or the transfiguration in the Synoptic Gospels, a voice from heaven responds to Jesus’s prayer. The voice is not identified as God’s, but on the analogy of the baptism and the transfiguration it seems likely that this is the voice of the father responding to the Son.

The crowd is divided with respect to the origin of this voice. Was it thunder or was it an angel? While this seems like two very different things, there are other examples of angelic voices sounding like thunder (Revelation). When the resurrected Jesus appears to Paul on the road to Damascus, his companions did not hear the voice either.

It is possible this is an allusion to Sinai. In Exodus 19:16-19 God’s glory at Sinai is manifest with thunder and lightning. If this is an allusion to the wilderness period, then it may be part of the rejection theme of this whole conclusion to the first part of John’s gospel. The generation in the wilderness saw great signs and wonders, including the voice of God from heaven, yet they rejected those signs in the wilderness and refused to obey God as he led them into the Promised Land.

Whatever the allusion, once again there is a clear revelation of who Jesus is followed by a misunderstanding from the audience. John continues to reveal who Jesus is, he is the the one sent by God to suffer willingly on the cross.

9 thoughts on “John 12:27 – “My Soul is Troubled”

  1. Whether Jesus is alluding to the Psalms or not he is quite clear that he is deeply troubled in his soul by what he is about to face. I cannot imagine preparing my whole life for one thing that one thing being my death. Jesus only lived a short time on this earth but the whole time he did live on this earth he was preparing the world for his death. This was all so that they might understand the significance of what would take place after his death and also what his death symbolized. The crowd and many of his disciples just simply did not get what he was trying to explain to them. Wherever Jesus went it seemed like confusion followed him. The crowds and even his own disciples had no idea what was coming and what it would mean to the world. Jesus was hurting when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane and yet even with all the soulful pain he was experiencing he wanted and did go through with it. He was obedient to his father even though it meant he would be separated from his father bearing the weight of the world’s sin for three days and then washing them away.

  2. Jesus was fully God yet he was fully human. Of course Jesus is going to cry out to his Father hours before he would be nailed to a cross. No human being would ever want to do that, no human being would want to experience the full weight of all sin in the world, past, present and future and no human being would want to experience the wrath of God and the absence of God. Jesus was ready to die, but he also showed us that his human nature was not ready. We cannot even imagine the position that Jesus was in at this hour and what he was feeling. Being the savior of the world, about to take on the most important tasks of all of history has got to be a feeling only God knows about.

  3. I like how the article starts with showing that Jesus was troubled with the task that was at hand. It is clear that he understood the importance of his death, but he was still human and death is something that every human doesn’t look forward to. Granted, the suffering that Jesus went through was far worse than we can ever imagine. God turned away from Jesus completely and Jesus knew that this had to happen for him to take upon himself the sin of mankind. He loves us so much that he was willing to experience separation from God. A point that Kostenberger points out with John 12:24 is that with Jesus’s death, more people will come to Christ and have the bridge to God. Jesus knows that his death is not a permanent state and that through his resurrection he is restoring mankind to God. Turing this now to the connection that Jesus’s prayer seems to correlate with Psalm 6. This is another example of how the Old Testament foreshadows the events in the New Testament pointing towards Christ. Just like the Psalm alludes to the New Testament, so the voice of heaven points back to the Old Testament. I’d never thought about the possible connection between the voice from heaven responding to Jesus’s prayer and Mount Sinai. Both are examples of God’s glory and the rejection that it received from the people who witnessed it. The connection between the two events makes sense then as they are quite similar. Even if they are not connected, they both show the amazing glory of God and gives us more evidence of his existence and mercy.

  4. At this time I couldn’t even imagine what Christ was thinking in the hours before being nailed to the cross and being crucified in front of many. Jesus was fully human, so there isn’t a doubt in my mind he had a lot going on mentally thus being the reason he was crying out to his Father. The Father is there to comfort us in our time of desperation, and this is exactly what Jesus is doing; calling out to the Father when he feels discomfort. Just as in Isaiah the prophet was the voice calling in the wilderness for the Lord to make a straight path to Him; Christ was calling out to the Father because he is that straight path to Him but, he was needing to talk to the Father before all was said and done. The reason in being on why he didn’t ask the Father to save him was because he knew that all along that his purpose of being on this earth was to die for the underserving.

  5. When Jesus says in John 12:27, “My soul is troubled,” I cannot even imagine what Jesus was experiencing and how troubled he really was. Jesus was fully God, but also fully human, which means he experienced and endured all the physical and verbal abuse the same way that a normal man would. Jesus could have used his power to heal himself, or even leave the situation, but he did not, because of his purpose in enduring the torture and crucifixion that he would experience. Long states, “While Jesus is deeply troubled, he knows that the reason he came into the world to be rejected, executed and buried.” Jesus had to endure what he was going through in order to fulfill the prophecies and save everyone from their sins. Kostenberger states that the word “troubled” means
    to be stirred up, unsettled; the word or related compound is found in the Septuagint in Davidic psalms” (p.2224). Much like Long mentioned, the word usage in John 12:27 can be in reference to the book of Psalm, where the writer is crying out in a similar way. I can only assume that Jesus was calling out to God in a similar way that anyone would if they were experiencing this type of pain. Because Jesus was fully human, he was experiencing the full pain that anyone would, along with the weight of the world’s sins on his shoulders. Jesus is crying out to his Father, in all the frustration, sadness, wear and tear, and pain that he is feeling. He did not ask the Father to save him because Jesus knew what he had to do, and at the same time, he was quite literally taking on the weight of the world.

  6. Reading in John 12:27 and seeing my Savior described as “troubled” brings a very emotional tone to this chapter. It is important to me to understand that Jesus was very troubled, yet He still wanted God’s will. In Luke 22:44, we see that Jesus was in such great agony that “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44, ESV). I think it is so amazing that Jesus was so troubled that He sweat blood, yet He still pulled through to defeat sin and death.
    According to this blog, I love how P. Long uses so many cross references based off of word studies. I liked how he made notice of the similarity between this passage and Psalm 6:8. I am assuming it is the words, “the Lord has heard the sounds of my weeping” (Psalm 6:8). It is amazing how similar this passage is to many Psalms. There are very many instances of the Psalmist weeping and begging the Lord to save him. The only, and key, difference with Jesus in John 12:27 is that Jesus was willing to follow through with the crucifixion. I believe Jesus was not only in great agony for what was about to come physically, but more importantly that He was going to be separated from The Father. I think that this was the main reason Jesus was so sorrowful, yet He understood that this was the reason He came. He came to die for us, so we can be saved.

  7. I love how Professor Long started the blog post off with this quote “In John 12:27 Jesus says his “soul is troubled,” yet he will not ask the Father to save him from “this hour.”” I think it’s very powerful that even though Jesus knew what His future held, that he was still crying out. Jesus was God yet he was still human so it makes sense why He does cry out. Jesus knows how important His death is for the world. Jesus’s reason for being on earth was so He would take on the sin of the world. I can’t even imagine what that would be like, no normal human would ever want to do that. Jesus knew all of the kind of things He was going to have to go through, being tortured and nailed to the cross knowing the things that Jesus knew couldn’t have been easy. Something that Kostenberger points out with John 12:24 is that with Jesus’s death, more people will come to Christ and have the bridge to God. At the time of Jesus’s death people still didn’t believe that He was who He said He was, which was the Son of God. By Jesus dying on the cross and people witnessing Him resurrect from the dead, you can’t help but believe that people came to God after that, how couldn’t you? This passage of Jesus crying before His death should make us appreciate even more how much He suffered for us. Jesus not only suffered physically but also mentally as shown in John 12.

  8. This blog post was very interesting, and really gave great insight. Reading this blog post really made me think about how Jesus became fully human. Even though he is the Son of God he felt what a human feels. Death is so real, and Jesus experienced, yet he didn’t want to go through that. Just as humans feel, we do not want to look towards that. No one wants to experience what death looks like. He didn’t ask God to save him from crucifixion, he wanted another way to be able to save us, he knew that it was his purpose and that is why he was on earth so he still went through with it and did not try to turn away from it. Reading this showed me that Jesus really had a love for us that we can’t amount to and wanted to save us.

  9. In Jesus’ prayer that is recorded in John 12 He says that His “soul is troubled.” However, Jesus also says that He will not ask His Father to save Him from “this hour.” This prayer is also recorded as in private in the Garden of Gethsemane verses the synoptic Gospels that record the prayer as being in public. The reason why Jesus is deeply troubled but will not ask the Father to save Him is because He knew that the reason for His life on earth as a human was to be rejected, to die, and to be buried. Jesus may be connecting His words to a Psalm. “The words are closest to Psalm 6:3 (LXX 6:4), the verb is a perfect passive in John rather than the aorist passive of the LXX, and the adverb σφόδρα (“greatly”) is not used in John” (Long). However, there is a good amount of similarity in the verbs used that it is safe to say that John made a purposeful connection to Psalm 6:3. With this in mind it is highly possible that the context of the Psalm is included in the possible allusion to Psalm 6:3. In the first part of the Psalm, to put it shortly, the writer is asking God to not punish him. He says that he has failed to make progress and asks the Lord to save him because he won’t praise God when he is dead. In contrast to the Psalmist, “Jesus knows that His suffering will lead to death, but also that His death will not result in the silence of Sheol. Unlike the Psalmist, Jesus knows that His death will result in vindication when God ‘raises Him up’ (John 12:32). Jesus is also different from the Psalmist because He suffers and dies willingly. His suffering, death, and resurrection was His reason for coming to earth. A voice from heaven responds to Jesus’ prayer. The Bible does not say that the voice is God. However, there is an analogy/connection between this event and Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration which most likely implies that the Father (God) is responding to His Son Jesus. The crowd did not know what the origin of voice was, they thought it was either thunder or an angel. This has a possible connection to Sinai. In Exodus 19 God’s glory is portrayed at Mount Sinai with thunder and lighting. “If this is an allusion to the wilderness period, then it may be part of the rejection theme of this whole conclusion to the first part of John’s gospel” (Long). The wilderness generation had seen God’s signs and wonders but still rejected them and Him and did not obey Him as He led them to the Promised Land. The connection/allusion to Psalm is that “there is a clear revelation of who Jesus is followed by a misunderstanding from the audience” (Long).

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