Summary: Jesus sought to glorify God in the grit of everyday life. When this is our focus the realities of life have purpose, even when, especially when, we're wadding through the slug of the tough stuff.
GLORIFYING GOD THROUGH THE GRIT
Scripture: John 16:32-17:5
Text – John 17: 1, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.”
There are many people considered to be great people – people in their lifetimes who were called upon to live for other people and they rose to the challenge. Among them – Gandhi was an activist to rid India of British power through peaceful protest. Schindler was a German businessman who bought privileges from the German Reich to employ 1,000 mostly Polish-Jewish children to save them from the holocaust camps. Winton was a British humanitarian counterpart to Schindler who, realising the plight to come if he did nothing, saved 669 children from the German holocaust by transporting them from Czechoslovakia to Britain prior to the start of the war. Mother Theresa’s work among the poor in the slumps of Calcutta is unequaled by any charity worldwide. Martin Luther King, American Baptist minister and human rights activist, had a dream of equality of all races and ethnicities, expressed mainly in the abolition of black slavery in the United States. King was inspired by Ghandi in his non-violent demonstrations and civil disobedience. Their great names came at tremendous personal cost to all of them – from living in poverty to assassination. Their convictions were so deep and strong in the DNA of who they were that they became totally obsessed with achieving the aims that consumed them. The good of humanity was at stake and no price was too high.
These people reflect for me something of the heart of Jesus and his complete obsession with glorifying God. I am profoundly captured by the notion that if one will represent God in this life, there can be no room for self-preservation. This is counter-cultural to our post-modern society’s thinking about personal comfort and promotion. When God captures our hearts, we tend not to think as the world thinks! And so, we will consider the theme this morning of Glorifying God through the Grit. It is the way Jesus did life and it is His living legacy of how we are to do life. No matter how tough things got or how complicated his life became, his complete focus was bringing people to know God through his life and that was the driving force behind everything he did and every priority of his life.
Today is Palm Sunday. It is the day we associate with palm branches waving and songs of celebration – and rightly so. But there’s more to the Passion Week drama and events. We will skim the surface of some of these events and activities and discover how they led Jesus to the coming cross, crucifixion and completion of the Father’s work; how, through the grit of his circumstances, Jesus glorified God.
There are good reasons to decide the journey begins at any number of entry points but the one that captures our attention as the likely starting-point is when Jesus was ANOINTED at Bethany (12:1-11). It was six days before Passover. Jesus went to Bethany and as was his frequent practice, he stayed with Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. Lazarus, whom Jesus resurrected from the dead, is sitting with Jesus at a meal that the siblings were hosting in Jesus’s honour! While Martha was in the kitchen as was her custom, expressing her worship of God and honouring Jesus, Mary focused on Jesus another way. On one of his earlier visits Mary sat at his feet to listen to his teaching. On this visit she anointed his feet with very expensive perfume. The aroma filled the house John says. Judas pretended to care about the poor and the waste of the perfume that could have helped so many. He was really disgusted at a lost opportunity to line his pockets. Jesus, straight up told him, “7Leave her alone. It was intended she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”
It is convincing to consider that this account of Jesus’s anointing marks the beginning of the road to the cross. Immediately following this experience Jesus was riding into Jerusalem as we celebrate on this day. He then predicted his death and forces everyone to face the ugly realities to come. It is not unlike dreading the follow-up visit to the doctor after having a series of tests or the anxious parent looking at the police cruiser pulling into the driveway or the young expectant mother who loses her child. It is hard to face dreadful things, unbelievable things. Jesus’s closest people were no different. They didn’t want to sit with this awful possibility, they had such hopes for the future. But here they are, listening to him as he presses in on them to hear what he has to say. The anointing of Mary was an introduction to these coming days.