Today’s Gospel: John 12:20-33
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour?’” The various liturgies of the church use so many lofty titles for Jesus—Son of God, the Christ, Lord, Light of the World—that it can be easy to forget that Jesus was fully human. In the praise filled prayers of worship, it is easy to allow Jesus’ divinity to eclipse his humanity. But, we must never overlook the fact that Jesus was a man who experienced the same range of emotions as you and I. He was a man who knew love and grief, frustration and betrayal, joy and sadness. He struggled with the vagaries of this life, just as you and I do every day.
In our lesson for today, we get a glimpse of Jesus’ humanity and we see some of his struggle. Jesus knows his life is rapidly drawing to a close. He knows at the end there will be great pain and suffering, that his death won’t be merciful or quick. His soul is troubled, and he wonders out loud if he should look for another way to fulfill his Father’s will. Jesus is staring death in the the face, and he is afraid.
Many people think that in order to be courageous one must be free of fear, but that isn’t true. Courage is doing the right thing in spite of the fear, and that is what Jesus did. Jesus’ fear threatened to paralyze him, but his trust in God gave him the courage to move forward, all the way to the cross and the empty tomb.
We live in a society that thrives on fear. Our leaders often manipulate it to push through their particular policies. Advertisers use it to sell products. The media sometimes heightens it to increase ratings. The truth is, to be afraid is to be human; it is a fact of life. But what power do we give our fears? Do we allow them to paralyze us? Do we feel fearful more than we feel hopeful? The Bible tells us over and over again—do not be afraid. And this is part of what Jesus means when he tells us to pick up our crosses and follow him. We are to pick up our fears and our anxieties and carry them as we struggle to do the right thing, as we struggle to be faithful. Yes, we may all have to face our own Good Fridays, but God promises us that Easter is always coming.
O God our King, by the resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ on the first day of the week, you conquered sin, put death to flight, and gave us the hope of everlasting life: Redeem all our days by this victory; forgive our sins, banish our fears, make us bold to praise you and to do your will; and steel us to wait for the consummation of your kingdom on the last great Day; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP p.835)
GET YOUR DAILY LENTEN MEDITATION
Receive a Lenten Meditation each morning, helping you to make the journey through Lent to Easter.