April 7th

It’s Holy Week. Doesn’t feel very holy. The celebration of Palm Sunday is just behind us – leaves waving, crowds cheering, Hosannas ringing – not an easy mindset to enter into this year. Much easier to identify with the words of Jesus in the twelfth chapter of John’s gospel – “Now my soul is troubled and what should I say?”

Jesus is talking with the crowds immediately after the triumphal entry. He speaks of seeds falling to the earth and dying; of those who love their life so much that they lose it; of the coming of the hour. There’s an inevitability about the destination this week. The shadow of the cross hangs over the coming days. Jesus sees it and tries to prepare his disciples, but they don’t understand what is about to happen to him. There’s a whisper from heaven, the echo of a voice that the crowd hears, but doesn’t really hear.

And Jesus is going to be lifted up. “He said this to indicate the kind of death he was going to die”, so John helpfully informs us. But listen to the double-meaning here. Yes, he will be lifted up onto an old rugged cross to die an insurrectionist’s death. But also lifted up on the hands of angels. Lifted up as the conquering hero. Raised to life. Glorified.

This is not a day for empty consolation in the midst of confusion and fear. You know the kind of words – all things work together for the good… But this is a time for hope in the one who will be lifted up and draw all the world to himself.

Ian Waddington