you gave up your Son
out of love for the world:
lead us to ponder the mysteries of his passion,
that we may know eternal peace
through the shedding of our Saviour’s blood Jesus Christ our Lord.
Father, glorify your name! A voice came from heaven saying "I have glorified it and will glorify it again."
I have often wondered what the meaning of Passion Sunday is really about. The reading describes an agony worse than most of us ever have to face in our lifetime. On one level it is terror, fear of indescribable pain and suffering, worse than having to go into hospital to undergo some major life saving treatment, one from which you know that you are unlikely ever to become conscious again and may die soon after.
Jesus in his humanity knew his crucifixion was going to be just about the worst thing that anyone could undergo. At a deeper level, Jesus was guided by the underlying principle of why all of this was necessary. Preachers are renowned for shouting out "Jesus died for your sin".
Sin is lethal enough as it obstructs the relationship which we are all invited to enter into with the living God. But Jesus turns our attention to something even worse, as if there could be anything which is worse than sin. He says, "Now it the time for judgement on this world, the prince of this world will be driven out.
I will liken the condition of sin and acts of sin to a tiny seed which has the potential to grow into some large ugly and poisonous weed. This has the ability to dominate the scene of lives and can work towards influencing and destroying the lives of others. Does the dark prince or Satan have to tempt us to start on this journey? I believe he can but we are capable of getting into our own mess without his help. However, there comes a time when we encounter the author of sin and rebellion, the father of lies, and can find ourselves acting out his agenda whether we are fully aware of it or not. Like some form of addiction, this relationship will ensnare those willing to walk into the trap.
So Jesus is saying to us, "Good News" The evil one will be dealt with, he will be removed and will no longer have any influence over this world. It is a very welcome judgement, it is justice and righteousness for the future.
It invites the question, when this judgement comes, where do I stand? I know that if I think long enough about sinful thoughts, the action and doing is only a matter of time. But if I keep saying to myself "I will not think about this" it is a sure way to make certain that I am reminding myself about it constantly. It is a bit like laying in bed urging yourself to fall asleep quickly, and you are still awake three hours later.
Today's reading provides an answer. Jesus says that when He is lifted up he will draw all people unto Himself. Putting Him up on the cross did not provide a quick solution to get him out of the way so that the rest of humankind could move on. That event still draws many to him today, even as it has during the ages.
In another sense, when Christians meet today with an agenda, "We want to lift Jesus up! Father we so very much want to see your name glorified," that is when we know His presence with us and we see Jesus working in our midst. People are drawn to Him and to each other.
It has been wonderful to remember occasions when God has so obviously been in a place of worship and there have been miracles and anointing. But we lift the name of Jesus because it is our right, it is our bounden duty and above all it is our joy.
So when sin enters the mind, turning our eyes upon Jeus is the perfect distraction. He becomes the all significant and everything else is diminished. On the news this week I heard a presenter saying that today's world is becoming more complex, more demanding and moving at a pace where people can no longer keep up. I was thinking of the words 'more chaotic'. We should expect our Lord's intervention soon.
I would like to leave you with the words of a well known hymn, appropriate for Passion Sunday.
Fill every part of me with Praise
Let all my being speak
Of thee, and of thy love O lord
Poor though I be...... and weak.