Here we have one of those moments in the Gospels where we get a partial glimpse of the Trinity at work. Jesus and God are separate but connected. There is clear distinction but a divine connection. Jesus is a human, having a fully human experience. His soul is troubled. He does not want to die. Yet he understands how the power of God is glorified in weakness, in death. Jesus stands opposed to worldly power and offers an alternative. It is all a little too much for us to handle.
Of course we are confused. Is it thunder? An angel? We are still fighting over who God is and what God’s voice is saying. We disagree. We limit God with our earthly metaphors. We project our human-made systems of power onto the divine. We can’t imagine a glory that transcends the earth. We give answers to a question that is altogether misguided.
“And when I am lifted up out of the earth . . . ” Jesus models obedience. He does not try to save himself. That does not mean he sits on the couch eating chips. No, he teaches and heals and restores. He also knows when to let go. God is doing the lifting. God is giving the glory. What would it look like for us to be dependent on God? To allow God to do the lifting? To be still enough to hear the thunder and the angels?
Jesus addresses our petty disagreements with an image of his rising and embracing us. What will it feel like to be drawn to Jesus? That belonging, that sense of peace and comfort is extended to all people. The last word is a love that covers all. We will be embraced. We will be home.
God of thunder and loving embraces, draw us to yourself. Shower us with a sense of belonging. May the sense of home bring with it the courage to let go of worldly power and turn to you again and again. Amen.
We can maintain outward appearances for only so long. At some point what is in our hearts will come to the surface. God understands this, of course, which is the reason for the promise in Jeremiah. God promises a day when God’s law will no longer be an external standard that we are trying to follow but will be written on our hearts. In the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out in Psalm 51 for God’s forgiveness and a new heart. The New Testament readings begin to focus our minds toward the end of Jesus’ life. God’s transformative work comes at a cost to God through the death of his Son, who suffered in obedience but through his death was glorified.
Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. What are the covenant relationships in your life? How do you fulfill your part of the covenant with God?
Read Psalm 51:1-12. What are the things that clutter your heart, limiting your availability to fully love?
Read Hebrews 5:5-10. When have you offered your prayers “with loud cries and tears” as Jesus did? How does knowing Jesus’ vulnerability impact your life of faith?
Read John 12:20-33. How does this example of the grain of wheat help you to understand Jesus’ crucifixion and death?
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