February 23rd, 2016

The Tragic and Triumphant Cross Leading to Hope for Us All” 

cross13“Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls onto the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.'”

“‘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 t his hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.'” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 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.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.” (John 12:23-33)

Jesus proclaims that the hour has come. This hour is not an indication of chronological time, but implies the significant moment of salvation. This hour in which he will be glorified is also the moment of his suffering. Jesus is troubled by the prospect of suffering, and he is momentarily tempted to ask the Father to save him from his passion. Yet, Jesus knows the very purpose of his life has been determined by the moment that is now upon him. This hour of Jesus’ anguish and glorification is also the time of the judgment of this world. John’s gospel does not record Jesus curing those possessed by demons, as in the other gospels. Instead the saving moment of Jesus is described as one great exorcism in which the ruler of this world will be driven out. The great Adversary is defeated and his captives are set free.

The image of the grain of wheat further describes the meaning of Jesus’ death. Like the seed that must fall into the earth and die before it can be raised up to bear fruit, Jesus offers his own life in loving self-surrender. Following the pattern of the germinating grain, Jesus must undergo his passion in order to be the glorious savior of all people. All who wish to follow him to eternal life must embrace this understanding of glorification in their own lives, laying down their lives and letting go of the passing attractions of this world.

Jesus will die by being lifted up on the cross. But the crucifixion of Jesus will also be his exaltation; “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” The self-sacrifice of Jesus will draw all people to himself because nothing is more compelling or attractive than an expression of love, and no love is expressed more perfectly than that of Jesus. The cross is the power that defeats this world’s powers of sin and death and draws all people like a magnet to Jesus and to his Father.

Reflection

Why does the cross of Jesus draw so many to him?

Prayer

Jesus, help me to surrender to you and let go of the passing attractions of this world. Help me to give myself to others so that my life will bear fruit for your glory.

Amen

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