Roger's Postings

Saturday, March 28, 2009

John 12:20-33 Save me from my troubles?? 29/3/09

(20) Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. {21} They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus." {22} Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. {23} Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. {24} I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. {25} The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. {26} Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me. {27} "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. {28} Father, glorify your name!" Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." {29} The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. {30} Jesus said, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine. {31} Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. {32} But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." {33} He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

Once again we are reminded that everything has been turned upside down for us as God’s people. There is a whole new way for us to view life that is completely different to that of the world around us. This enables us to see a way through the troubles of this life, to that which is truly important. This new way helps us to cope and deal with much of what the world sees as bad and negative. Here again central to this new way of thinking and living, is the absolute critical nature of Jesus and his death on the cross, for us; and for our life in this world.

Here however we again have a message that does not go down well with our modern way of thinking. We today want to be free from the troubles and hardships that are so prevalent around us. We want to avoid pain and difficulties at all costs. In many ways we are living in an analgesic society - take a pill for this and that: Have an aspirin or something far stronger, to get rid of the headache or pain; gloss over the hassles; do anything to get relief from that which we see as negative. But we are not prepared to do anything about that which is causing the pain in the first place.

We are not prepared to ask why we are hurting, or what it is that is causing the pain, because we still want to be free to get drunk and abuse our bodies and our relationships. We just want the pain removed when we suffer as a result. In other words, we want a quick-fix - without dealing with the real issues. We want to be free to live as we please. We forget that it is the pain that is telling us that something is wrong: the headache is telling us that we had too much to drink; the bad back is telling us that we are overdoing it. All the pills do is allow us to abuse ourselves even more, until we have done ourselves permanent damage.

Sadly, even within the spiritual sphere of life we are doing the same thing. And there we simply look for God to remove the guilt, pain and hassles, so that we can continue to live as we please. We seek from God an easy road through life, with lots of earthly blessings; but want to avoid the real issues and implications of Christ for our lives. We want to cover over those important issues that are not pleasant and which make demands that we do not like. Then when we are faced with the pain and hardships which result from this abuse, we do not want to face why the pain is there and what God is trying to do through it. We just want it removed. We simply want a quick ‘pep me up’ so that we can get on with doings ourselves some more harm. We want to be free to live as we like; even though it is often the wrong way, and even though it is doing us permanent, irreparable damage.

This is not just the case for the people out there; we too, often look in the wrong direction and fail to see what is truly good and important: we too often also want to look for the easy way out, rather than the way that brings real benefits.

Here in our reading this morning we can learn a lot from what Jesus has to say to us in this regard. But even more importantly, he points us to what truly is important in life. He again points us to the absolute necessity of his death on the cross for our salvation.

Now let us recall the situation: some Greeks have come and asked to see Jesus. No doubt they had heard about all the great miracles that he had performed and what a great speaker and leader he was. So they probably were thinking here is someone they maybe could follow and look up to: who can give them what we need because he has the power to do mighty things. So they try to get to see him, to see if it would be possible for them to be able to join his group.

However, what was Jesus’ response to this request? Very interesting! You want to see me in all my glory: You want to see me as I need to be seen: You want to know what following me involves and where my real power lies? Then look to the cross. Look to that terrible crucifixion that was about to take place.

It is there in Jesus’ death that his true glory is seen. There we see what we really need to see if we are to be truly helped in life. It is there that we face reality, and that our real needs are met. There we face the answer as to why we hurt and have so many hassles; and where our real help lies. There we find the beginnings of a great and wonderful harvest.

Jesus death on the cross does not gloss over the consequences of sin; or push the real the issues to the background. Jesus faced the pain and sin of our world fairly and squarely, and there dealt with the real issues. He took on himself the greatest agony of all – the rejection and punishment from God, so that the cancer of sin could be cut from our lives, and that he could free us from eternal death.

Jesus chose to die, so that we can live. No sidestepping the issue - no running away - no pain-relievers. There was no easy way out - if there was to be long term gain for us. He like a grain of wheat must die so that there could be a rich harvest. Without him going through with it, there would be no hope for us. But he did die; a terrible death, so that we might live. So that we can now look to the cross and know that there is forgiveness for everything that we are and have done wrong and have suffered as a result of others wrong-doing. So that now we can look to the cross and know that we have a God who loves and cares for us - even when we are hurting badly; and so that we can know that our suffering, pain and even death, is not the end. There on the cross we have God cutting through the rebellion, pain and frailty of life; dealing with sin - for our benefit - long term. There we see Jesus - there we see our saviour and Lord, in all his glory.

Now for most people today that does not make sense. On the one hand, it is too easy; and on the other, the cross does not look to be a throne of victory. It does not fit with our concept of dealing with evil and overcoming the problems we face in life. We want to see power, strength and greatness; not humility, love, suffering and death. We want to focus on miracles, gifts and great numbers – an easy road through life; instead of accepting the difficulties and hardships of life as God’s means of keeping us focussed away from ourselves, to him. We want to be loved and served, rather than be loving and serving others, to our own detriment. We want to be free to do our own thing instead of living in obedience and service to Christ and others.

Suffering and death do not fit our concept of glory, or of dealing with the problems of sin. Suffering, sickness and death often do not fit our understanding of Christianity; but, have often been referred to as the result of a lack of faith. So often, we fail to even think that God may be seeking to increase faith and to gain an even greater harvest. So often, we fail to see that he may be seeking to draw us and others closer to him though the problems we face and so that we might learn to trust him that little bit more, rather than trying to do it on our own. Maybe the situations we are forced to face, are to turn our eyes off of ourselves, our pride and the gods of money and technology, and back to where they should be: back to Jesus Christ and his death on cross for the salvation of mankind: back to where the real issues of life have been dealt with and overcome. Then with our focus there, we cannot help but give glory to God for his love, forgiveness, greatness and everything else. There again to know that God cares and is with us, no matter how tough life may be. Then we can heed what Jesus said: The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me

There on the cross Jesus Christ is glorified, for all to see. There he receives his Father’s approval, and God’s name is glorified. There we see Jesus as God would have him be seen and understood by us all. Yes, To God be the glory great things he has done. AMEN
Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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