Throughout the Gospels Jesus confounds the expectations of His audience. He made grand claims about Himself, yet He was not prideful. His words had immediate relevance, but He never bothered much with the burning question of his day—Israel’s occupation by Rome. Most expected a politically triumphant Messiah. But Jesus cast His mission largely in terms of His suffering and death, something His disciples—and we today—have a hard time understanding.
Jesus’ words, “Now the Son of Man is glorified,” give us pause (v. 31). Surely Christ already had glory as the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, but Jesus here is referring to His glory as the Son of Man. For God to receive glory from His actions, Jesus’ life must reveal God to us (John 14:9).
For Jesus, suffering did not come only in His death. His whole ministry involved rejection and an abandonment of power (cf. Phil 2:5–11). His life gives full meaning to love, making His instruction to “love one another” (v. 34) truly new. Indeed, this is a revelation from God Himself about His essential character (1 John 4:8).
Along with love, “glory” takes on new dimensions. The Father and Son glorify each other, and Jesus gives us the perfect example of a human will aligned with God’s will and purpose. Jesus shows us how to obey and please God, and we see how the Father completes this mutual relationship of love by responding with love for His Son.
Jesus was the victorious Messiah—but His victory required suffering, humility, and obedience. We might not always understand how suffering can be redeemed by God to become triumph, but we have the example of Jesus to assure us of God’s love and power to make things right.