by Sylvia Miller-Mutia
Some people want to see you…the disciples tell Jesus. In the light of all that’s just happened, they might have been thinking, Maybe they want your autograph or something. After all, the disciples have just witnessed Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. They have just watched as people crowded into the streets to greet Jesus with blessings and shouts of “Hosanna!”
Jesus answers: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Glorified. If we stop right there, it sounds pretty good…Glorified. Like maybe there will be a spotlight, some applause, some glitter & a crown.
Some people want to see you…the disciples tell Jesus.
The disciples might still be optimistic or naive (or clueless) about where things are headed, but Jesus knows better…
It’s like when you come into a room and your friend tells you “so and so wants to see you”…and your heart sinks because you think you know what’s coming next…and it’s not good.
Like your boss wants to see you, and you think, “Uh oh. The hour has come to look for a new job.”
Or the person you’ve been dating wants to see you and you’re pretty sure they’re going to say, “The hour has come for us to start seeing other people.”
Your teacher wants to see you and you think “The hour has come to register for summer school because there’s no way I’m going to pass the class.”
Or your parent wants to see you and you think, “The hour has come to go to my room or get out of the house.”
Your doctor wants to see you because the hour has come to look at the test results and discuss what treatment options are left.
“Some people want to see you” the disciples tell Jesus.
“So this is it,” thinks Jesus, “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
But there will be no spotlight, or applause, or glitter. There will be a crown, but it will be made of thorns. Because in John’s Gospel when Jesus speaks of being “Glorified” he’s talking about being crucified.
If that doesn’t make any sense to you, you’re not alone. It’ didn’t make any sense to the disciples, either. And sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me.
My friend Sharon, an upstanding leader in her Unitarian Universalist congregation has started (religiously, I’d say) attending a Christian church in west Berkeley on Sunday nights. She finds the community compelling…she finds their faith compelling…she finds their prayer life compelling…she finds their action in the world compelling. The only thing that she finds really mystifying is the cross. “I just don’t understand why they seem so EXCITED about this terrible thing that happened,” she says.
When I was a youth minister I would often get phone calls from salespeople trying to sell me the newest curriculum or trying to get me to buy tickets for my youth group to come to the next big youth revival. (Apparently they had missed the memo that Episcopalian youth were not exactly the “target demographic” for giant youth revivals where leaders dress in fatigues and rally kids to join the battle against the forces of sin and evil.) At the end of a phone conversation with one such salesperson, the guy (in attempt to be generous, I think) said, “It’s all about the guy that died on a tree, right?” To which I replied (in my head or out loud, I can’t recall), “Actually, it’s all about the guy God raised from the dead.”
The truth is—it’s both. Resurrection without crucifixion is meaningless. It doesn’t tell the truth about our real human experience of evil, suffering, brokenness, and death. But crucifixion without resurrection is also meaningless. It doesn’t tell the truth about the real power of a God who IS life, who is constantly calling forth new life, bit by bit, from every nook and cranny of our broken existence.
In John’s Gospel when Jesus speaks of being “Glorified” he is talking about crucifixion AND resurrection. John testifies to this truth: crucifixion and resurrection go together. They are two sides of the same coin…two aspects of a single reality.
When Jesus talks about being “glorified” he’s talking about the crucifixion AND the resurrection. When Jesus talks about being “lifted up” he’s talking about being raised up on the cross…AND being raised up from the tomb, AND ultimately being raised up in glory from the earth and ascending to heaven.
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. We don’t have to rewind 2,000 years to come close to that hour… and we don’t have to fast forward to Passion Sunday or Good Friday or Easter Day to come close to that hour. Because we can experience the moment of Jesus’ glory: the moment of crucifixion, resurrection, ascension– in a single moment; in the PRESENT moment.
The hour has come and now is
NOW is the moment of crucifixion and resurrection
NOW is the moment of judgement and of salvation
NOW is the moment falling apart and being made whole
NOW is the moment death and new life
NOW is the moment of falling down and being lifted up
For Jesus…for us…for the whole world…
I’m not trying to say that good things always come out of bad things. They don’t. Sometimes bad things lead to more bad things. What I am saying is this:
Believing in God means staying open to the possibility of new life, even in the face of death.
Believing in the Resurrection means choosing to place every situation—even situations that seem hopeless—in the hands of God, and waiting and watching with hopeful anticipation for signs of new life.
Having faith means allowing ourselves—and allowing others—to be “lifted up” in the hands of God, in the hands of the angels, and in the hands of one another: lifted up to new life.