Message for Lent 5 – Sunday, March 21, 2021

Brothers & Sisters

In the Gospel appointed for today the passage begins. “Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.” And they have come to see Jesus. They find Philip – a disciple with a Greek name who came from Bethsaida and possibly spoke Greek – and make this powerful inquiry, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Indeed, the world has gone after him, and we get a powerful glimpse here. The news of Jesus is not intended for only one people, group or one time period, or one geographical location. It is for the world. Interestingly enough, we never learn whether these Greeks got to see Jesus. As soon as Philip and Andrew tell Jesus that some Greeks have come to see him, Jesus begins a difficult teaching filled with tensions and reversals.

Today on this fifth week of our lenten journey, let us focus on two pieces of what Jesus teaches: there is room for struggle in the Christian journey, and in the cross the outside is brought in.

In John 12:27:Jesus says,  “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.” In all of the other gospels, we read about Jesus praying in the garden, and asking that if it be possible let the cup be removed from him. In Matthew 26, for example, Jesus prays not once or twice – but three times! – for the cup to pass from him, concluding his time of prayer with, “Your will be done.” His soul was troubled. He was deeply grieved. He struggled with the difficult journey he knew he needed to walk. And we can find great comfort in this.

Jesus struggled in the face of death. Even though Jesus was perfectly obedient to the will of God, he also struggled with the difficulty of what was coming. And this should give us a tremendous amount of comfort.

There is room in the Christian journey for struggle.  There is room for our weakness.  There is room for us to wish that our roads would not need to be so difficult.  There is room for struggle in the Christian life, and in the cross.  In verses 31-32, Jesus says this, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Once again Jesus uses the phrase “lifted up” to refer to the kind of death he would die.  All people, included people like the Greeks who had come seeking Jesus and those deemed unexpected or unworthy. 

As we seek to live out this complex and mysterious truth, may we find the courage in the midst of our struggles, and comfort knowing that Jesus is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses. There is room for our struggle.

May we be ready and willing to participate in the drawing in of those who are on the margins. May we be ready to hear and receive those who come wishing to see Jesus, even when they are those we least expect. And may we do all we do for the glory and honor of the holy and precious name of Jesus.

Think on these things!