Father, may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word, Jesus Christ our Lord
Yesterday my husband and I decided to go for a walk up around Watergrove reservoir. It was around 2pm between the intermittent snow showers that were blowing in and out. As we scaled up the hill towards the wind turbines it seemed that we were inbetween two weather fronts. To our right the once clear and blue sky that had allowed us to see Manchester in the distance was now filled by a thick grey blanket. To our left, the wind turbines were now not visible as the strong wind swept the snow fall across the burnt orange tufty land.
We stopped to admire the dramatic scenes listening to the rhythmical turning of the turbine blades and the increasing howling of the snow glazed wind. As we turned back to walk down the long causeway pack horse route, a clap of thunder ripped through the sky above us. With the snow falling, the wind whistling, and the thunder roaring it was quite an intense situation.
As I walked quickly through the immense sound of the thunder it made me think about the gospel reading today. As Jesus is fortelling His death to the Greeks who had asked to see Him and the disciples who were there, a voice came from heaven saying, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder.
Imagine what it must have been like to hear the voice of God ripping through the sky as if it were like thunder. The crowd around Jesus were already in a dramatic situation, they were hearing a teaching that was difficult for them to understand. That the man in front of them was not only going to die but those who wished to follow Him would also have to face the same journey.
The Greeks who asked to see Jesus seemed to have got a lot more than they bargained for! They wanted to see the man who had been healing the sick, feeding the five thousand, raising the dead, perhaps they wished to witness His miracles first hand so they too could say they had met and been with Him. However instead they witnessed the uncomfortable information of Jesus’s impending death, confirmed by God himself.
The Greek’s presumed experience of Jesus is quite reflective of how we wish to see Jesus. We wish to see Jesus on our terms, that when we call on Him He can tick off our prayer todo list and we go home feeling pleased with what we’ve received and turn up next Sunday.
However Jesus is the son of God, the one who rebukes demons, who raises the dead, heals the sick, turns the tables in the temple, stands up for the poor, empowers women, values children, the one who died for us, He is the grain of wheat that dies to become the bread of life and when we meet with Him we are changed. We are changed into His likeness, that from His death we are re-born to bear much fruit that brings God’s kingdom to earth, that brings hope, love, and joy to His people.
There is a real temptation to be consumers of God’s life, gathering what we need, from the fallen grain of wheat, and then carrying on with our own agendas and routine. When in fact Jesus longs to meet with us, and be with us not just in the transactions of His endless love but in the stillness and quietness of our hearts.
Today we ask to meet with Jesus as we begin Passiontide, which is the final two weeks of Lent commemorating the increasing revelation of Christ’s divinity and His movement toward Jerusalem.
We set our faces to the cross just like Jesus does in accepting His Father’s will, He cries out, Father will you glorify your name?
And like the thunder that ripped through the heavy laden sky yesterday, God roars through our hearts His plan for us, to be lifted up with the precious body of Jesus on the cross, confirming that He is our God, and that we are His people.
May we through these final weeks of Lent, draw closer and know our God through the sacrifice of His Son, give thanks that our sins will be no more, reaffirm that our old lives are put to death, and open our hearts to be formed and purified, kneaded and shaped into the bread of life, from the grain of wheat that fell to the earth and died for us.