For this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.
One of the most famous Christmas scenes in the Bible is the announcement to the shepherds by an angel that the Savior is born. And then it says, “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:11–14).
Glory to God, peace to man. The angels are sent to make something crystal clear: the Son of God has come into his creation to display the glory of God and to reconcile people from alienation to peace with God. To make God look great in salvation and to make man glad in God.
So when we come to John 12, there is no surprise when we hear Jesus praying that this would actually happen at the most important point of his earthly life, namely, his death and resurrection. That God would in fact be glorified in the rescue of sinners. Look at John 12:27–30:
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? [We know he means the hour of his death, because in verse 24 he had said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”] But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.”
In verse 27, Jesus says, “For this purpose I have come to this hour.” What purpose? Answer: verse 28, “Father, glorify your name.” That is why my death approaches.
The Father hears Jesus’s prayer and answers, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” He had just glorified his name through Jesus in the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:4, 40), and now he will glorify it in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
And don’t miss the emphasis on God’s commitment to glorify God. Not only does Jesus pray for God to glorify God: “Father, glorify your name” (v. 28), but God himself says, “I have glorified my name and I will again.” God sent angels to say it in Luke 2. And God himself says it in John 12:28, “I have glorified [my name], and I will glorify it again.”
The deepest reason why we live for the glory of God is that God acts for the glory of God. We are passionate about God’s glory because God is passionate about God’s glory.
And what makes this such good news, especially in the Gospel of John, is that the glory of God is full of grace and truth. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
The most glorious thing about God is that he is so completely, fully self-sufficient that the glory of the fullness of his being overflows in truth and grace for his creatures. He doesn’t need us. And therefore in his fullness he overflows for us. Such is the grace we receive at Christmas.