Day 27: Pause—process—peak
Ever hiked any mountains? Hike, not climb; there is a difference. A hike implies a walk. It is strenuous, but your feet stay on the ground. One thing to remember: every now and then, stop and look around. Pause, take in the scene, process how far you have come, and maybe, if you are in the right spot, gaze upon the peak which awaits you.
I have hiked a few mountains. Nothing dramatic. Enough though that I know it’s important to stop—to pause—or you will miss the hike.
Ever had that happen to you? Ever been so determined to conquer, to complete, that when you are finished you don’t really remember any of it?
It happens to me a lot. On hikes with my scouts I would naturally be focused on keeping track of them. I often missed the hike. At work I would be so focused on the goal, that I would miss much of the journey.
Here is the deal. You can learn a lot along the way. Plus, stopping every now and again lets you take in the goal... lets you catch a glimpse of the peak.
We are coming to the end of a major section of John’s Gospel. John has let you “walk with others” as they have met and processed Jesus. Some believe that he is who he says he is: God. Others do not believe. Still others oppose him.
After chapter 12, most of what you and I will read is Jesus spending time with his disciples, and then his final days, hours, on earth. It will be less about the crowds, and more about his crew.
Reaching chapter 12 has been a hike. Let’s take some time, sit together and process this chapter.
First there is a dinner for Jesus.
Mary pours expensive perfume over his body as Judas watches and reacts. The difference between those who love Jesus, and those who do not, is magnified by her extravagance.
News of Jesus arrival spreads.
Many come. Again, we see two distinct and opposite reactions. The crowds are drawn to him. The authorities, as they get wind of his presence, grow in their anger towards him.
We move from a dinner party to a parade.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is dramatic. Again, we are presented a stark contrast. The crowds are yelling Jesus' praise. The religious opponents are getting even more riled up. Everyone is "going after" Jesus.
Then there is this bit about Greeks seeking Jesus.
To you and me, we probably think nothing of it. Jesus reacts. Why? Because “everyone” has just gotten much bigger. The reference to the Greeks means to people who are not Jewish. Said differently: the rest of the world. Now people outside Jesus’ tribe realize he is someone special.
This description shows that people, Jew and non-Jew, know about him. It means the final actions that Jesus was sent to earth for—his death—are upon him.
All of this leads to a climax of sorts for Jesus.
Perhaps for him, the peak (which he has known all along is there) comes into view.
- He speaks in a sort of cryptic language saying those who seek their life will lose it... and those who lose their lives for his sake will keep it.
- His soul is troubled, and yet he knows what he must do. He cries out and heaven answers. The Father speaks audibly for all to hear.
- In verses 44 we read, “Jesus cries out...”. This is his second time. Have you known him to do this in the earlier chapters? I haven’t. He is bursting with emotion. His mission has moved to another level.
You see, this “hike” that we are on is also a “hike” that Jesus is/was on. Maybe when you started it, you knew that it would lead you to a place where you would be confronted with the person of Jesus. Here is the deal. For Jesus, he too knew that this “hike” would lead to his death. It is one thing to “know” something. It is quite another to “see” it.
What are you seeing at this point?
Do you believe you have it in you to wash Jesus’ feet, sing his praises at a parade, and yet perhaps still deny knowing him in a matter of days?