Psalm 71:1-14; Isaiah 49:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; John 12:20-36
“Sir, we want to see Jesus.”
The Greeks don’t have any connections. They’re strangers in Jerusalem, but even they have heard of the Galilean prophet, and heck, the whole town’s shut down for Passover and they’re not welcome in the Temple (there are two surviving stone inscriptions from Herod’s Temple clearly stating that any stranger who enters within the balustrade around the Temple is “responsible for his own ensuing death”). So off they go to find Jesus: He’s the only show in town to which they’re welcomed. So the whole town’s shut down and hoping that the Destroyer passes us over. No one’s welcome in any temple, church, mosque, synagogue, movie theater or even too close to a stranger in the produce section at WalMart. All our connections are suddenly not able to get us into any kind of anything. And in this moment, some folks might well be surprised and comforted to meet Jesus.
Here’s the trick: they’ll only meet Him through you. What you say online. What you do in those brief interactions at the gas station. How you comport yourself. What fills your long twilight hours. Who you decide to phone or write. Those are all faith statements. You are the Body of Christ, jointly and severally. And how you behave under pressure says a great deal about Who you believe Him to be. There will be loads of angry Jesuses, fear-mongering Jesuses, finger-pointing Jesuses out there in the next few weeks, predicting the end of the world, blaming this party or that for a pandemic far beyond the control of any one politician, businessman or nation, expostulating on which group of sinners is getting their comeuppance, screaming and grabbing and generally showing the world that their individual faith is in the things of this world no matter how many crosses adorn their earrings and tattoos. But you, beloved, need to show the world Who Jesus really is. That’s hard work: just do it. Be loving. Be gentle. Be patient. Be thoughtful. Make some sacrifices without grumbling. Thank the people at the cash register. Take the opportunity next week to say “yes, but Christ is risen” when people around you go off on a rant. People are going to see you and me and, if they know we’re Christian, are going to see Jesus in us. What Jesus they meet–the Jesus of the Cross or the false jesus of my anxieties–is up to us.