The Emotional Suffering of Jesus

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” – John 13:27,28

Much has been written about the physical suffering of Jesus. I would like to focus on the emotional aspects of his suffering so that we might understand and hopefully help to comfort those who are dealing with these types of trials.

The context of John chapter 12 has Jesus in Jerusalem just after the raising of Lazarus. I cannot help but believe the period of grief that Jesus experienced with the family of Lazarus had drained Him emotionally. It will not be long until Jesus will be led to the cross to be crucified. We have all faced the dread of knowing we were scheduled or were planning to do something we really did not want to endure. Maybe we had a surgery scheduled or the completion of funeral arrangements for a loved one. The emotional drain and anguish is many times worse than the endurance of the task itself. How much more so for someone who knows they will have to endure extreme pain and eventual death on a Roman cross?

After his entry to Jerusalem, the weight of the sufferings are troubling him. He ask this rhetorical question ‘what shall I say? Father save me from this hour’ in verse 27 knowing the answer. The natural human aversion to suffering, the concern over his apostles and all his disciples must have been weighing heavily on his mind. He shows by His example, the purpose of this life is not the avoidance of suffering. His next statement in verse 28 intimates the purpose of suffering, glorifying the name of the Father. He clearly had the power to deliver himself from the hands of the Jews and the Romans. How would that have glorified the father? Avoiding suffering would only have have served to glorify himself.

Dan King writes of this passage

Rather than requesting that he be saved from this hour (v. 27), the Lord’s petition is that the Father’s name may be glorified. This was Paul’s later summary of Jesus’ passion, i.e., that it was, “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:6-11).

While researching this text, I came across an article by Harry Osborne entitled “Learning Obedience from Suffering”. I believe he does an excellent job in getting to the heart of this passage. Here is a paragraph from that article:

In his incarnation, Jesus was “made in the likeness of men” and “found in fashion as a man” (Phil. 2:6-7). As a man, he did not desire all of the horrors associated with his death on the cross. However, obedience drove him to subject himself to the will of the Father. The essence of his statement is not “Father, save me from this hour,” but “Father, glorify your name.” His obedience was put to the ultimate test and perfectly met it. Therefore, he becomes our example as we are tempted to forsake the will of God in times of hardship, but persevere in obedience despite the consequences.

It is hard to imagine how difficult it would have been to endure what Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. The emotional suffering at its peak, already taking a heavy toll on him physically. Sometimes physical pain is much easier to endure than the emotional. At the conclusion of all things, suffering is suffering. The apostle Paul talks about his persecution right alongside of his shipwrecks and perils which had nothing to do with his opposition. No matter the source of our afflictions of this world, the message of hope offered to us remains the source of any comfort which can be had in times of affliction and suffering. – tdk Apr. 2012