by J. Randal Matheny, editor
On 7 September 1822 Prince Pedro was returning to Rio de Janeiro from São Paulo. On the banks of the Ipiranga River, he received correspondence from the royal court in Portugal, recently returned after having fled Napoleon in Europe, summoning the prince to leave Brazil and go to the seat of government.
There, Prince Pedro gave what would be later called the Shout of Ipiranga: “Independence or Death!”
Months later, he was proclaimed Dom Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil, leader of an independent nation.
The 7th of September is to this day a national holiday in recognition of Brazil’s independence from Portugal. On the site of the shout was built the Monument to Independence, now located within the city limits of São Paulo.
At the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus of Nazareth stood in the holy city of Jerusalem, after many showed themselves unwilling to believe or to confess their belief in him for fear of the authorities, and “shouted out” the truth about his word and eternal life (John 12.44-50 NET).
The Shout of Jerusalem served as the culmination of a selfless ministry that would soon result in his innocent death. Just as the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew served to launch his ministry, so in the Gospel of John the Shout of Jerusalem crowns his time among men.
His shout was not political, like that of Prince Pedro, or like that of the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey (John 12.13), but the shout of a spiritual reign, not of this world, a reign where truth prevails (John 18.36-37).
Jesus’ shout was not to draw attention to himself, but to his Father and the vision of the divine glory. “The one who believes in me does not believe in me, but in the one who sent me, and the one who sees me sees the one who sent me” (John 12.44-45).
Jesus’ shout was not one of anger or condemnation, but of the urgency of salvation. “For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12.47b). From now on, he would talk in private to his disciples (John 13-16). This is his last sermon to the people. Will they hear?
Jesus’ shout served to call attention to a future when the choice of salvation would no longer be an option. “The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day” (John 12.48). The time to hear the word was now, when it would save, rather than later, when it would condemn (compare Hebrews 4.12).
Jesus’ shout echoed the command of the Father, obedience to which is the source of eternal life. “And I know that his commandment is eternal life. Thus the things I say, I say just as the Father has told me” (John 12.50). He starts his sermon talking about belief; he ends it talking about obedience to God’s commandment.
And he associates the commandment and eternal life with the powerful connecting verb: IS. This way, no one can separate the necessity of obedience for salvation.
His shout, in the shadow of the cross, was backed by action. The cross put power in his words. So the shout calls for faith to leave its closed-lipped silence and stand with him in the midst of the square to give echo to forgiveness of sins for the undeserving.
No matter what our volume level, our words must be his words, for his are the words of the Father. His shout reverberates and invites us die with him, follow his lead, and share in his ministry to save.
The shout of Jerusalem cannot be contained within the confines of the city. His followers carry it to the ends of the earth. For not only a nation must be freed, but mankind itself.