Jesus said, “Now I am deeply troubled. What should I say? ‘Father, save me from this time’? No, for this is the reason I have come to this time. Father, glorify your name!” – John 12:27-28
Sometimes I wonder if the reason Jesus was so deeply troubled during that contentious week in Jerusalem, leading up to his death, had as much to do with the Twenty-First Century as the First? I wonder if it had anything to do with me?
It would be easy to argue that Jesus was concerned that maybe it was all happening too fast; worried that there was so much more Gospel to say, and to do, and to live; wondering if three years of public ministry had been anywhere near enough. It makes sense, doesn’t it, to think that surely there were more towns to visit, more sermons to preach, and more people to reach?
But the message Jesus lived was, essentially, uncomplicated and crystal clear, his teaching elegant and precise. He had said it, he had lived it, he had clarified it, and now it was claiming his life because the Good News was/is – in its purity – too much for this world.
Besides, the most important element of Jesus’ plan was Phase Two, the initiative to replicate his simple invitation to live in a dozen, then hundreds, thousands, and eventually millions of disciples, offering grace, peace, mercy, light, hope, love, and promise to “the ends of the Earth…“
Maybe that is what was troubling the Master so deeply? Maybe it was – maybe it is – me?
Maybe it was because, “After three years Jesus had communicated the essence of his vision clearly. But from the moment he died and for two thousand years since, his followers – that would include you and me – have been complicating every word and confusing every nuance until the heart of the gospel has far too often become unrecognizable” (Reaching Toward Easter, page 18).
So I am wondering if people get any hint of Jesus when they run into me, any sense of invitation to real life, any deep understanding of gospel?
So my challenge on this the second day of Lent is to have this conversation with Jesus and to pray, “Lord I don’t want you to be troubled any more on my account; I don’t want you look at my life and wonder if everything you went through that week in Jerusalem was worth it; I don’t want to be one of those people who leaves the world confused when it comes to your message. Instead, Master and Teacher, I want my life to be a witness to love, evidence that light always defeats darkness, good reason to live in hope, and a winsome invitation to come home.”
Amen – DEREK