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John 12:23-28 narrates Jesus’ thoughts about his journey towards the cross.
Regarding his own death he shares:
- Jesus describes his crucifixion as his “glorification”. He recognises that his journey to and through the cross will culminate in his glorification. So he ironically uses these terms interchangeably.
- Jesus makes sense of his journey through the metaphor of ‘one for many’: if a single seed refuses to die, it remains one seed; but if it dies, it produces many seeds. In other words, through the the death of one man (himself) there is life for many (salvation of humankind).
- Jesus is genuinely troubled, disturbed, in dread of this path that he has been called to follow. The journey to the cross is not easy for him. He wishes there could be an easier route. Let us not be glib in our perception of Jesus’ mission.
- Yet he resolves himself to his mission, his reason for coming and to the glory of God.
In the midst of this narrative, Jesus calls us to follow this same path:
- If we want to serve him, he says, we must follow him and be where he is. And where he is at that moment is on the journey towards the cross. That is where we must follow him.
- For sure, when we follow him, there will be glory – just as for him. Our Father will honour us if we serve Christ. But that is in the future. For now, we are called to a present path of suffering.
- He cautions us to not hang tightly to this life, to be in love with this life. If we do, we will lose it. Rather, we must almost hate this life, by comparison, and rather invest in the life that is yet to come.
- Many churches are teaching that Jesus’ desire for us is for our wealth, happiness, success, possessions and power. But there is no hint of such teaching from Jesus in John 12. Rather, we are to spurn such trappings of this life, and journey with him on his path.
During these last days of Lent, Jesus is calling us to journey alongside him towards the cross. Let us immerse ourselves in his journey. Let us walk close beside him. Let us accept the path of humility, service, laying ourselves down, suffering and dying to self and to this life.