What Troubles Your Soul? – A Sermon On John 12:20-36

Tuesday in Holy Week – John 12:20-36

Ocean Storm – Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash

Here’s my question: What troubles your soul today? What is the hour from which you want to be saved? 

Now before you answer, let me explain what I am asking about. I’m asking about more than just something that upset you or didn’t go your way. I am asking about more than an inconvenience, interruption, or a disappointment. I am asking about those things, events, experiences that shake you to the core. I am asking about those hours that terrify you.

I am talking about those memories, thoughts, feelings, or fears that never go away. No matter how hard you try you can’t wish, deny, or ignore them away. They are the things that give you no rest and won’t let you go. They keep stirring up your insides. They hound you through the day and haunt you through the night. They are there when you fall asleep at night and when you wake in the morning. They just keep coming back, coming back, coming back. 

They are the things in your life you just don’t want to face up to, have to deal with, or go through. What is it that makes you say, “I’d just die if I had to _____.” Fill in the blank with whatever it is you don’t want to experience, face, or feel. That’s your soul troubling hour. What is that hour for you today?

That hour comes to us in a thousand different ways throughout our lives. Regardless of how it comes it always sets before us our limitations, finitude, and powerlessness. Ultimately, it’s the hour in which we recognize and face our own mortality. And mortality is about more than physical death. It includes all the many deaths we die before we die.

That’s where Jesus is today. He’s facing the hour from which he wants to be saved. He’s facing his own mortality. “Now my soul is troubled,” he says. But here’s the paradox. Just a few verses before that he says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Could it be that the soul-troubling hour is also the glorifying-hour? And what might that mean for your life today?

We all come to the soul-troubling hour. No one escapes that hour, not even Jesus. There are no ways around it, there are only ways through it. 

Maybe that’s what Jesus was getting at when he said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Soul-troubling and glorifying. 

Maybe when he said that Jesus was talking to himself as much as to anyone else. Maybe he was struggling with the soul-troubling hour as much as do you and I. Maybe we’ve got it backwards and death doesn’t follow life, but life follows death.

Holy Week 2021
+ Palm Sunday: Working Out Our Life
+ Monday in Holy Week: Fragrancing Life


  1. Isolation, loneness, rejection, have been my experience of the past year. It has been difficult to get to the core of it as l feel l am being hit by my family’s unresolved issues and they need someone to blame. The only way that I keep going is to hold the Cross and to try to find Peace admit the Thorns.
    Thank you for your reflection l will keep searching, praying and thrusting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vincent, I’m so sorry it’s been such a difficult year. Somewhere in all that is Easter. I know that is easy for me to say when you are the one living it. Resurrection often takes time but it always comes.

      God’s peace be with you,


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