Jesus has come to enlighten the Gentiles and to give glory to Israel (Lk 2, 32). Hence, he cannot but draw all to himself.
Scholars say that the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke show Jesus as the Suffering Servant. In John, on the other hand, Jesus is kingly and divine. He is wholly in charge of his destiny. His is a stately bearing. He comes out as someone that must receive glory and who cannot but enlighten those around him.
But there are always exceptions to general rules. For Matthew, Mark and Luke speak of the authority that Jesus exudes as Teacher. He astounds, yes, those who see him teach and heal. They take him as a great figure in the teaching of the law and the prophets (Mt 7, 28-29; Mk 1, 22. 27; Lk 4, 32. 36). Hence, they give him and God glory; Jesus does not fail to enlighten.
There is exception, too, to the sketch in broad strokes that scholars make from John’s account. For John tells us that Jesus, troubled, asks the Father to save him from death. In the end, Jesus stays true to his mission, and the Father glorifies the Sent One’s name.
But Jesus makes clear that the Father has stepped in not for his sake but for ours. That is so since he is going to enlighten us so that we may believe in him. And one is to believe not just in any Jesus, but in him as the accursed on the cross (Gal 3, 13).
Jesus does enlighten us so that we believe in the right way.
In fact, Jesus enlightens us; he lets us know the paradox that his cross is his glory. That his suffering, “with loud cries and tears,” leads to others’ salvation. And it turns out that it is easy to understand the paradox; we only have to let the grain of wheat enlighten us. What is hard is to live the paradox. And here lies the challenge for us.
The challenge for us, yes, is to find true greatness, glory, humanness, in Jesus on the cross. And we find it when we are, do and live as he (see SV.EN XII:67) to the end. That is, to the giving up of the body and the shedding of blood. And Pastor Sylvester Beaman spells this out for us a bit more.
But we do not only find in Jesus who hangs on the cross our true goal, but also our judgment. For before him, what hides inside clean hearts, those on which God’s law is written, and inside wicked hearts comes to light. Those with wicked hearts will be at the left, while the clean of heart will be at the right.
And it is not that Jesus condemns; he has come to save. It is only that one reaps what one sows (Gal 6, 7-8; Prov 1, 31). Of course, we all want to reap eternal life, but do we see to it that we sow for the Spirit?
Lord Jesus, let your cross enlighten us, so that we may bring light to others, too, and guide them to you. We will thus do as your apostles Philip and Andrew.
21 March 2021
Fifth Sunday of Lent (B)
Jer 31, 31-34; Heb 5, 7-9; Jn 12, 20-33