Rev. Rosemary Webb
18th March 2018
God Helps Us To Understand

In the reading from Jeremiah we hear the words ‘the time is coming’ says the Lord ‘when I will make a new covenant’. ‘It will not be like the covenant I made with your forefathers. But he will make them respect the law, he will make sure that they know they are his people and he is their God.

This wasn’t a promise to be a dictator, to take all responsibility from them, more that God expect them and indeed us today to know he is our God and to respect his wishes.

When people ask why did God let this or that happen?, God doesn’t let things happen but he has given us the choice to follow in Christ’s footsteps or to go our own way – lead our lives as we think fit. Since the beginning of time God has struggled to get us to understand, understand that love has to be selfless. It is not drawing attention to ourselves, it is listening to God, loving him with all our hearts and loving our neighbours. But the Jews never listened and the passage from John is just before the New Covenant, Jesus is preparing the disciples for what he knew lay ahead.

The Jewish people were preparing for the Festival of the Passover, a festival which not only attracted the Jewish people to Jerusalem but gentiles who wanted to experience the celebrations. Festivals have always attracted very diverse people.

Jesus had just made his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, the crowds loved him, as we know they were cheering and waving palm branches.

This would have been enough to make most people want to see who the fuss was all about, who was this man, could they see and speak with him. This of course must have been making the Pharisees furious, it was the last thing they wanted at their Passover festival. They knew Jesus must have been an imposter, it was what they had been saying for months, – this for them was the last straw.

But for the Greeks in the crowd, the Passover didn’t mean very much, and they had heard about this Jesus who had been healing people, they wanted to see him, speak with him. So, seeing Philip standing there they went to him and asked if they might speak with Jesus. Jesus’ response was perhaps beyond their understanding, but he knew that his time was near, that unless he dies, he will not be glorified. His words ‘unless an ear of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it only remains one seed but if it dies it will produce many seeds. Jesus knew that he had to suffer, die on the cross and rise again so that the Word, the Good News, would spread.

Jesus’ words also remind us that we have to die to sin and be reborn so that we might have eternal life. That those who think it is earthly riches which matter, will lose their life.

The crowd were bewildered, this was one of those occasions when again they couldn’t understand what Jesus meant. What did a seed have to do with anything, why all this talk about death? If he was the Saviour, the Messiah, surely, he must live for ever.

But Jesus knew what lay ahead, he knew he had to face it, he couldn’t run away or the Word being made flesh would have been a failure. He had a duty but he wasn’t looking forward to it, he was the earthly Christ but he had to face all the suffering and humiliation.

And they heard him talking, asking should he ask God to save him. Then there was a sound which they couldn’t understand, some people thought it was thunder but others thought it must be an angel. Tragically the world still doesn’t understand what God is saying, even more tragically many never bother to listen.

The world in which we live says, if you want something get it, regardless of the harm that does to others. Then hold on to it, if you want something you should have it. Tragically this seems to be taking an even more sinister turn. If a country or someone wants another person dead, they think they have a right to do it regardless of the harm they may do to other people. If a community stubbornly refuses to obey the views of a leader they can be starved and bombed into submission. Nowhere does God say that, nowhere does God give world leaders the right to determine how other countries should go. If God has given us freedom of choice what leader has the right to deprive people of democracy?

The Jews got God’s love so wrong that when the Messiah came to save them they crucified him, he wasn’t how they thought a Messiah would be. He was peaceful, compassionate, reaching out to all in need. He wasn’t strident, threatening to attack people, He was, is God and they missed it.

As we continue our journey let us pray that we do not become so set in our views that we do not see God in our midst. Let us remember for God to be glorified we need to be listening to God’s voice and learn how to become part of the glorifying process, so that God’s kingdom on earth and in heaven will become one. We are his disciples we must never forget that.

John 12:20-33
Jeremiah 31:31-34