One of the blessings of observing Lent for six weeks is the focused anticipation of Easter. Some of us anticipate it with the breathless excitement of a child waiting for her Easter basket full of jelly beans. Some of us anticipate it like a child attending an Easter egg hunt….we know there are hidden treats there somewhere, but we are still looking through the high grass. Most of us just want the six weeks of self-deprivation to end.
Whatever your perspective is as we begin this fifth week of Lent, Easter is coming. The hour approaches. The culmination of this season of disciplined waiting is about to end.
How are you doing?
Have you kept up with the commitments you made on Ash Wednesday to be more diligent in your fasting, prayer, scripture reading, meditation, repentance, worship, and serving?
Yeah, me neither.
You might be like me. I have been satisfactory in one area. I’m teaching a Lent study to help me focus in on scripture and the commitment to teach gave me no out! But I totally bombed in another. I committed to not snacking in the evening and that has been a big fail. My definition of “evening” keeps getting pushed back…all the way to midnight.
Today’s scripture is a glimpse of how Jesus spent his last hours before the crucifixion. Notice his complete and total commitment to what was about to happen.
John 12 (English Standard Version)
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
The hour has come. This must be finished. A grain of wheat must die in the ground to produce seed for the fruit. You must die to your life to produce seed for eternal life. Jesus invites us to follow him in this last hour.
27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
Jesus didn’t waver at the end. Neither should we. Let us push on with our Lent practices and finish strong. Remember that the whole point of Lent is to bring us closer and deeper into God’s Holy presence. It’s not so much about “giving up” as it is “focusing in” on who God is and whose we are. That focus allows God to be glorified in our lives and the crowd of people around us will know we are Christ-followers by our example.
No turning back.