Jesus Speaks about His Death
27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that 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 standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people[a] to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah[b] remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
“Now my soul is troubled”.
Rarely in the last century has Holy Week coincided with such a time of trouble and concern around the world. And so we read these words spoken by Jesus in a new light. Our souls are troubled, as his was. Like him we are subject to fear and anxiety.
In Jesus, God was made incarnate – we often forget what that really means. We are tempted to think that Christ could not really suffer the same doubts, the same distress, the same pain, that we do. We might even imagine that his divinity gives him a “get out clause” when it comes to true human suffering and yet every event of Holy Week demonstrates to us that that isn’t the case.
If the Christian faith counts for anything, it is because of the promise that God is with us – not just looking down on us from afar with a kind of beneficent but ultimately powerless gaze – but actually with us – in the anxiety and the stress and the boredom and the sickness and the grief. He is closer than our breath. He has walked this path before, and he walks it with us now. You may be self isolating but you are not alone – he is with you – he was always with you – he will never leave you.
And he promises not just to be with us in the darkness, but in the light too. Each kindly deed done at this time, each human contact by email or phone, each surprising glimpse of joy gleaned from the beauty of creation or something amusing on television or some unexpected gift or conversation – these are images of resurrection to come – the promise of the light at the end of the tunnel – the certain hope that life and love will triumph.
It seems like a good time to be reminded of those wonderful words written by Minnie Louise Haskins, and famously quoted by King George VI in 1939:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
You stepped into the darkness for our sake, so that you might understand what it is like to be human, with all its troubles and its joys.
Thank you for walking with us through our troubles, for being the guiding hand that we can rely on, when so many certainties seem to have deserted us.
Thank you that beyond the cross, Easter light is on its way,
bringing hope, and healing, and another day.