The Jesus in this Gospel troubles me. In the other three Gospels, Jesus wavers before the cross—but not in John. Pondering the cross he asks, “What should I say, ‘Father save me from this hour’?” Then he answers his own question, “No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.”
Reading these verses, I miss the Jesus described in the Synoptic Gospels who prays for the cup to pass from him. That Jesus has doubts like I do. His hesitance to march headlong toward death makes him more human, more like me.
Much of my discomfort with John’s version stems from Jesus’ charge to the crowd—and to the rest of us—that “those who love their life lose it.” In the other Gospels, I also hear that call to discipleship, but the life-or-death consequences aren’t quite so loud or clear. Take up my “cross”? It’s just a metaphor, right? Well, at least that’s what I can tell myself.
John’s Gospel leaves no room to rationalize. There is no denying the connection between discipleship and painful sacrifice. A kernel of wheat must die to give life. Those who love their life will lose it. Those who hate it will keep it. Disciples follow Jesus as he marches headlong toward a place of unfathomable pain and suffering.
In this scripture, Jesus invites us to probe our discomfort. He also bids us to look closely at our commitment to our faith. Discipleship comes at a price. But we can pay it with the assurance that God’s gift of selfless love has prepared us for times of trial.

God, when we pray for deliverance in times of trial, assure us that your love abides. Amen.

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