Reflection for the  Fifth Sunday of Lent, Passion Sunday.

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 

Jesus in John 12:20-33.

“I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.” Darcy to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice as she asks him when he began to love her.

Today’s Gospel for Passion Sunday, a week before Palm Sunday, actually takes place after the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem and a crowd is still following Jesus. Amongst them are some Greeks who tell Philip that they want to see Jesus so he and Andrew make Jesus aware of this. He then speaks of the time coming for the glorification of the Son of Man and, in asking that God’s name be glorified, a voice is heard from heaven. Some think that the voice is thunder, others that it’s from an angel – those around Jesus many not be listening carefully or perhaps are not ready to hear what is being said. However, a similar voice was heard at Jesus’ baptism and the Transfiguration and Jesus reminds his followers that the voice is for their sake, not his. The voice is not needed to confirm who he is or his relationship with God but does establish that God’s name has been glorified in Jesus. For this to occur is a reminder of the significance of what is happening – events are pressing and Jesus then talks of being lifted up to draw all people to himself, which John suggests indicates the manner of his death on the cross.

Just as the voice from heaven is also heard on other occasions, when Jesus speaks of being lifted up from the earth there are indications not only of his crucifixion but also of his resurrection and ascension. It seems that Jesus is preparing his followers for more than his death, although they may not realise that at the time. As the cross looms, so it will be followed in due course by his resurrection and ascension as he is raised up from the earth. That will only be fully realised when the time is right and Jesus’ followers then have not yet experienced this and are right at the start of the Passion unfolding. 

So many years later, like Mr Darcy, we are in the middle of it all without possibly realising what has already begun in our lives. Perhaps, like those first disciples, we hear words without listening properly to their meaning or origin. But Jesus’ words then are addressed to us today, too, reminding us that amidst suffering and death, and without denying the agony and terrible cost of this, there is the trust that resurrection and ascension will also unfold too when the time is right. In that lies our hope as Passiontide begins. 

With my prayers; pob bendith,

Christine, Guardian.