20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.??21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ???Sir, we wish to see Jesus.?????22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.??23Jesus answered them, ???The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.??24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.??25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.??26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
27???Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say??????Father, save me from this hour???? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.28Father, glorify your name.??? Then a voice came from heaven, ???I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.?????29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ???An angel has spoken to him.???30Jesus answered, ???This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.??32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.?????33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
There???s a lot here in the text, so I want to focus on a small and overlooked statement Jesus makes that is actually the central focus for what is happening in the story. ??In v. 27, Jesus says,??
"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say??????Father, save me from this hour???? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour." ??
Why is this important? Because the hour has come for Jesus to prepare for his crucifixion and the events surrounding his death reveal to us what it is that Jesus has come to do. He has come to die so that we might live. But the 'living' is the important part because it is why Christ died. The common misconception is that Christ died so that we might have everlasting life that begins after this life. ??But nothing could be farther from the truth. ??Jesus died for a life that begins now and that life involves a relationship that is more intimate than we may know.
Throughout the Biblical story, God's relationship with us moves from outside to inside, from outer-guide to inner-compass, where we are no longer led by the hand but guided in the heart. ??There is plenty of scriptural evidence for this, but there's one text that stands apart in its significance, uniting the Old and New Testaments in an extraordinary way. ??That text is Jeremiah 31.31-34, which says,??
31The days are surely coming, says the??Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.??32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt???a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the??Lord.??33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the??Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.??34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ???Know the??Lord,??? for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the??Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Do you see what God is doing? ??The relationship is deepening, moving beyond someone who loves from the outside and works their way in, like a husband or wife. ??God wants to be born within. ??Where once God was developing his people from the outside???in, he is now most concerned with beginning within and working outward. ??This isn???t to say that the Old Covenant had something wrong with it???because it didn???t. ??If anything, the Old Covenant and the Law of Moses conditioned the people of God, like an athlete who works their body into shape in order to be ready to perform at their best. ??But, every athlete knows that competition is about the mind. ??I can remember my dad saying before any sporting event I was about to play, ???Son, get your mind right. ??Remember what you???re supposed to do…and do it.??? ??Look at the dads (and the moms now!) who at ballgames sit in the stands and yell at their kids, ???Come on now! GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME!??? ??The kids are ready to play physically, but??
it???s their minds that need focus.
God knows we need something more and is going to provide it in Jesus because now the time is right, the hour has come; it???s time to get our head in the game. ??The fulfillment of God???s will has come to pass in Jesus Christ. ??God is bringing to humanity the mind that we need in order to live out a complete life that is pleasing to God. ??That life is one where mind and body work in sync with each other; where we have a mindset and lifestyle that is characteristic of Heaven but lived out here and now. ??Paul says it quite nicely in Romans 12.2,??
???Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God???what is good and acceptable and perfect.??? ??
The phrase ???this world??? can also be translated as ???this age,??? signifying that a Heavenly mind is what God desires here and now, not simply later. ??Jesus is merging the life of later with the life of now.
Through the Jeremiah text, we now see that the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of God, is put within us, as Jeremiah said, ???I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts,??? making it plain to us that God desires to take the hand-holding relationship of a Father or Husband to the next level. ??God wants to be even closer, if we can imagine that. ??The Law has conditioned our bodies, but now is the time for the Spirit to renew our minds.
We find all over scripture language like ???father??? and ???husband??? as it describes our connection to God. ??The Book of Revelation calls the Church, which is the people of God, the bride of Christ, allowing us to see Christ as a loving and reverent husband who cares for his bride. ??Paul alludes to the same relationship in Ephesians 5, as he mentions the man???s role to care for his wife as Christ cares for His Church. ??In the Jeremiah text we read, "I took them by the hand" and "I was their husband." ??Jesus refers to God as Father throughout his teaching, and in the most familiar places like Matthew 6 and Luke 11, where we find the Lord???s Prayer, ???Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name…???
But you have heard scripture from me in the past about God???s relationship being deep, central, and abiding within us. ??I???ve quoted John 14.23 many times,??
???Jesus answered him, ???Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and
we will come to them and make our home with them.?????? ??
It is God???s desire that each of us be restored through Jesus??? work on the Cross and that we be given the Spirit of God, who will make each of us ready for the kingdom that is already breaking into this world. ??Now is indeed the hour for us to accept the Holy Spirit if any haven???t. ??
Jesus came for this very reason: that he should take upon his shoulders the sin of the world. ??That everything you did, are doing, and will do be placed on the Cross. ??Only Jesus satisfies the requirement for our debt. ??But because of His great love for God and for this world, He bore our sins and took upon Himself a penalty that can only be repaid through what the Psalmist said,??
???What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me? ??I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,??? ???Psalm 116.12-13.
Lift up your cup, Church. ??See that God has blessed you and given you life. ??See that Jesus willingly took on the burden of sin so that you could be free. ??But do you know that freedom today? ??Can you say with JOY in your heart that God has given you life and life abundantly? ??Are you living an abundant, Spirit-filled life; a life filled with ministry, with equipping your Church through the vows you made in membership, that you would support God???s work with your PRAYERS, PRESENCE, GIFTS, SERVICE, and WITNESS?
Jesus??? hour came and he accepted his responsibility. ??Will you see your hour, respond, and let the words God is writing on your heart lead you in a life of love and ministry? ??I pray that together we can continue to grow and continue to give in ministry to all the world. ??May God Bless us as we follow after Him. ??Amen.
Rev. Whit R. Martin??
Pastor,??New Liberty United Methodist Church