+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.
Text: John 12:21
Theme: Consulting the Source
Dear friends in Christ Jesus,
“Go to the source.” Have you ever given or received that advice? If you have, it’s good advice. It’s biblical advice. It’s the best way to find out the truth. Second-hand information is only as reliable as the messenger and people can be very unreliable. Strained relationships are especially vulnerable to hearsay. When speculation and uncertainty, gossip and even slander threaten to cause undo harm or needless offence we are wise to get our information from the source. Often it doesn’t happen because of fear. Sometimes it seems to require too much effort. Not infrequently we may even be avoiding the truth. But truth is the only stable foundation.
Perhaps that was the motivation today for the Greeks who sought an audience with Christ? How important were these Greeks? Did they have some vested interest in finding out who Jesus was? They were obviously God-fearers, for they had come to worship at the Passover feast. Many times the crowds were pressing on Jesus and undoubtedly often demanded a hearing from Him. What made them different? The circumstances, though intriguing, are not essential. We’re not even told if Jesus actually met with them. Christ’s response is what is significant. It was an opportunity to reveal the source.
And what does He reveal? His impending death! And furthermore the Father from heaven speaks and validates His Son. Could there be a more foolish way to institute a kingdom than to die a humiliating death? Is this not the kind of “wisdom” that would have been ridiculed by the Greeks? Imagine the mental and spiritual strain Christ endured when facing the cross. In the Garden of Gethsemane “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”1 Today He says, “Now My heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”2
Remember, dear friends, the Holy Spirit makes no effort to convince you of the logic of Jesus’ death. His goal is to teach you, that in spite of all the intellectual capacity you can muster to rationalize this event, that though contrary to your most refined sensibilities and counter to your innate sense of justice, the bloody sacrifice of this Man, who alone is God, was necessary to reconcile you to the Father. It was absolutely essential to rescue you from the power of sin and dominion of Satan. It was indispensable to prevent you from being consigned to the outer darkness where this is nothing but weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Jesus are the only source of true joy and hope. Repentance has the death of Christ as both its source and its goal. Everything else in which you put your trust in is idolatry. Consider the true nature of sin. Facing our transgressions of God’s will and being held accountable is not matter of tidying up a spiritual balance sheet, keeping up a good outward image, or refraining from blatant sins such as theft, deceit, adultery, or greed. The core problem is that our natural inclinations are deeply offensive to God, hopelessly self-centred, and damaging to the well-being of others.
Therefore the cry of the penitent is invariable, “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” The specific content with which that plea is filled relates to the circumstances of the individual. It may relate more personally to you in the context of your struggle with greed, jealously, addiction, keeping up appearances or being troubled by doubt, confusion, depression, or despair. But the fundamental premise always remains unchanged: The creature is at the mercy of the Creator, the sheep are dependent on the Shepherd; the sinner is lost without the Saviour. Our dependency on Him is never misplaced.
This Fifth Sunday in Lent is also the Sunday of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear the Messiah. Dear friends, the words of the angel Gabriel spoken to Mary are true for you too. “The Lord is with you.”3 It’s not just that at Christmas He gets closer to the world. He becomes part of His creation. The first Adam was made of the dust and back to dust he doomed all humanity. The second Adam, the new Adam, was conceived in the flesh of the Virgin and in that flesh He has redeemed all humanity. Eve was the mother of all the living but she gave birth to those who would inherit death. Mary gave birth to the One who would die so we could inherit life. The vulnerable ChristChild, once protected in the sanctuary of Mary’s womb is now our fortress, our place of refuge from sin, death, and Satan’s power.
Zechariah spoke of these things. Here is his prophecy, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because with have heard that God is with you.’”4 We have heard that God is with you. He is there, present among you, in the flesh. Pleas of yearning are heard. Cries of repentance are answered. Sin and darkness are scattered. We have heard that GOD IS WITH YOU. Does this sound familiar? Six hundred years later Matthew writes, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel”- which translated means “God with us.”5
The “one Jew” referred to by Zechariah is not Jesus. It is any believer in Jesus to whom an unbeliever, a doubter, a skeptic, a seeker comes to find contact with God. So convincing are the acts of God, so consoling are His promises, so respected are His people, His true remnant, that unbelievers are drawn to God through them. They have is word and where the word is the Holy Spirit is always in attendance. It is the source of forgiveness, salvation, and life.
Dear friends, in every way, by every means, we are directed to and connected with the source in our Christian life. The Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures to reveal Christ to us. Christ is our access to the Father. We are baptized into His family. We are fed at His table. His blood is not food for the anonymous masses; it is food for you the identified, called, and redeemed sinner- or it is no food at all. You are not nourished by watching someone else eat. You are not fed by merely recalling a historical event. You have the source. In Him you have life. Amen.
+ In nomine Jesu +
Fifth Sunday In Lent
22 March, 2015
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt
1 Luke 22:44
2 John 12:27-28
3 Luke 1:28
4 Zechariah 8:23