One who was present at the Last Supper might think that the impending betrayal and death of the Savior would be only a time of great loss. After all, Jesus was “troubled in his spirit” as He predicted Judas’ betrayal (John 13:21). Furthermore, few things are more awful to witness than one man betraying his friend, as Judas did when he went out from the feast to sell our Lord into the hands of the religious authorities (vv. 27–30).
Certainly, we do not want to minimize the sheer awfulness and horrific nature of Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion. Yet, given what we read in today’s passage, we must also note that the death of our Lord was both the greatest travesty in human history and one of the greatest moments of glory ever seen. After Judas’ departure from the Upper Room, Jesus said to His disciples, “Now is the Son of Man glorified” (v. 31). This is a reference to the atoning death of Christ, which was imminent. John’s gospel tells us in several ways that the death of Jesus was a moment of supreme glory for our Savior. When Jesus asks for the Father to glorify Him at the right hour, that right hour is the hour of His death (17:1). When Jesus spoke of His being lifted up to draw worshipers to Himself, He was speaking of being lifted up on the cross of Calvary (3:14; 12:27).
But why was the crucifixion a moment of glory for the Son of God? Because Christ’s death reveals the glorious character of our Creator. We see at Calvary the manifestation of God’s justice as Christ bears the curse that sinners deserve for their transgressions (Gal. 3:10–14). On the cross, we witness the almighty power of God. Our greatest enemy, death, could not finally hold Christ captive. He rose again, conquering death (Acts 2:24; Rom. 6:3–5). Calvary shows us the supreme wisdom of God in using what the world sees as despised and foolish as the means of its defeat (1 Cor. 1:18–31). The crucifixion reveals the great love of God, for it is God Himself, in the person of Jesus, who bears the curse we deserve so that we can be reconciled to Him (Acts 20:28).
Yet, the crucifixion was a moment of glory not only for the Son but also for the Father. Because the Father and Son were fully united in providing atonement for our sins, the glory that accrues to the Son also accrues to the Father, and the glory that accrues to the Father also accrues to the Son. In the death of Jesus, our triune God is glorified.