“The hour has come for the Son of Humanity to be glorified.” Why does Jesus see some Greeks wanting to see him as a sign that his hour has come and what does that mean?
The phrase has significance in the Gospel of John. In the story of the wedding at Cana that we recalled two weeks ago, where Jesus turned water into an abundance of the best wine, Jesus’ response to his Mother Mary’s bidding him to help when the wine ran out, was “my hour has not yet come.” Two other times when Jesus’ disruptive actions provoked the religious authorities to try to arrest him, the gospel writer tells us they were not able to because Jesus’ hour “had not yet come.” But here, as some Greeks worshipping at the festival come to Phillip and ask to see Jesus and Phillip tells Andrew and they go and tell Jesus, suddenly everything changes, and Jesus’ hour has come. What happened, and what does it mean?
In the chapter before, opposition to Jesus following his raising Lazarus from death reaches its breaking point among religious authorities who, “from that day on planned to put Jesus to death.” And people’s attraction to Jesus, because of his raising Lazarus and other miraculous signs, symbolized by Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey to shouts of “Hosanna,” reaches new heights, with the religious authorities saying, “Look the world has gone after him.” And in the words today, Jesus is now attracting Greeks as well as his own people. In other words, opposition and attraction to Jesus both contribute to his now being in imminent danger, to his seeing his own death.
Jesus’ hour has come. And Jesus speaks about it being like a grain of wheat falling into the earth and dying that it would bear much fruit. Or that those who love their life will lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. And Jesus will be with and God will honour all who serve and follow Jesus. Jesus’ hour has come, and it means all this.
The hour has come, but as of 2020, it is actually at 100 seconds. That is the time showing on the Doomsday Clock in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, updated in 2020 to the closest it has ever been to midnight. I hadn’t recently thought about the Doomsday Clock until I heard Noam Chomsky refer to it in his presentation a few weeks ago in the “Values for a New World Series” that I have mentioned before sponsored by of the UVic CSRS and the Anglican Diocese. The Doomsday Clock developed 75 years ago by Albert Einstein and others involved in the development of the atomic bomb, clearly identified the severe and imminent threat of nuclear weapons to humanity and the planet’s future. Seventy-five years later, the clock’s time also takes into account the climate crisis and other “disruptive technologies” including the “infodemic” or the proliferation of misinformation leading to further global instability. Thankfully, and amazingly the clock was not moved any closer than 100 seconds to midnight in 2021. The realities of the pandemic and the failures in global responses that in the words of the Bulletin are a “wake up call” to the world, may have warranted moving the clock even closer. But the Bulletin suggests this and other threats to global stability are offset by political changes in the United States and elsewhere and promised recommitments to arms control agreements and climate change targets. And so the clock remains at 100 seconds to midnight. The world’s hour it seems is at hand. What do we say, what do we do?
Jesus says in the face of his hour, “Now my soul is troubled. Yes, Jesus, we are troubled and many if not most of the world’s souls, including those of all creatures and all creation, are troubled by the pandemic, climate, and nuclear threats to the continuation of the world as we know it. Now our souls are troubled, too. These are words to describe how many, if not most feel, collectively, and individually, compounded and amplified by personal tragedies and losses, challenges and changes that confront us. Jesus, our souls are troubled too.
Jesus says, “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘God save me from the hour?’ No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. God glorify your name.” And as we heard, “Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’” And those who heard it said it was thunder or an angel speaking. But Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” This is Jesus’ hour, which Jesus enters in God’s glory to see the judgement of this world and the powers driven out, and to draw all people to himself.
It’s 100 seconds to midnight. Now is the judgement of this world. Now, will the rulers of this world be driven out? What do we say? What do we do?
The “Values for a New World” series concluded on Tuesday with a panel of the five speakers, Esi Edogyan, Miroslav Volf, Noam Chomsky, Thomas Homer-Dixon, and Linda Woodhead, with Director Paul Bramadat and Ian Alexander as moderators. As with the previous presentations, it was a rich, thoughtful, and thought-provoking time, and particularly hearing them speak to and respond to one another. It is worth listening to, if you haven’t had a chance and we will post the link on our website and in our Crossroads newsletter. In particular, they each spoke to the question of hope, including hope for young people in this time, stressing there is no place for false hope; honesty is essential about the critical hour or 100 seconds we are in to understanding the urgency to speak and act together for the sake of the planet, all people and all creation; but not fall into despondency, seeking to live “a true life within a false one”; developing trust that we have lost in something, in others, as opposed to an assumption of “ever present suspicion;” the critical role of education to help those who are younger and all of us discern false information and sources from truth; to see and act out of this transformative moment, to have learned something from this pandemic and what it has further exposed; and to see a values shift, a reversal back to “give my life,” rather than simply “live my life;” a “new love for everything,” a deep “humility, reciprocity, empathy” with the experience and point of view of others, nature, the earth, in literature and conversation and common cause, protest, action, advocacy, with every drop in the ocean causing a ripple toward change… and I would add Jesus’ words, “to see the destructive and devastating powers of this world driven out. And in no exclusively Christian dominating sense, to see all people drawn to the vision and value Jesus lifted up, giving his life for God’s love of this broken, beautiful world.
And I would add other examples of those joining in Jesus’ judgement of this world and vision of gracious hope for the future: in Lenny Duncan’s presentation some of you listened to last Sunday, in his cursing, often angry, gritty and brutally honest critique as a Black Queer pastor in a love letter to his dear church and all that needs to be dismantled of its and our racist, white supremist, colonial past and present, toward a more inclusive, gracious church of and for all God’s people;
Or a presentation by Boston, a proud Metis student in this community, to our Truth and Reconciliation Committee about the Wet'suwet'en right to sovereignty over their lands, the student demonstrations misrepresented as anti-pipeline protests, the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples and BC’s adoption but failures at implementing these rights, and more, all toward our seeing and understanding the truth and toward equal rights and redress and reconciliation in this province and nation for present and future generations.
And I even saw this, Jesus’ hour, and ours, in the hope and promise of a Lenten wedding, on the even of spring, of a couple and their children with a total of only 10 of us allowed to be present, joining in their vows to one another and their children, and their children to them, to be married, to be a family, on the eve of spring, in spite of a pandemic and its restrictions, drawn to one another in love, sharing words of love, drawn to God’s love in Jesus.
And so also in an essential visit to a care home, to pray for a dying member, with his son repeating over and over, “I love you Dad,” to anoint and commend him to death, in the promise of life with the one who gave himself to death, that all might be drawn to Jesus for everlasting life. It’s like planting a grain of wheat, that dying in the earth bears much fruit.
It’s like giving your life away in following and serving with Jesus in love for God’s world. It’s like a new gracious covenant with God written on our hearts and our sins forgotten forever. It’s Jesus’ hour, it’s our and this world’s hour, and in Jesus being lifted up, God’s gracious hope-filled way of drawing all people to God, in love, to God’s glory, now and forever. Let it be so. In all our relations. Amen.