Fifth Lent

The Introduction 

It was a simple request. Some strangers in town wanted to meet Jesus, and they approached Philip with the hope of getting an audience with the famous rabbi. What did they expect to see? Did they just want the first-century equivalent of an autograph? Or did they want a life-transforming encounter with a holy man?

When Jesus is told of their request, his response is rather mysterious. What does it mean that Jesus is about to be glorified? Jesus proposes that the only route to seeing him is to travel the road he’s about to take: dying and rising. If we lose our lives, die to ourselves, and follow him in service, then we’ll see who Jesus is. Otherwise, we’re only clutching his garments and missing the Son of Man entirely.

Many of us know Jesus from hearsay, like the strangers did. We’ve seen his picture, read his story, and can quote a few memorable lines. But until we die and rise with him in a truly surrendered life, we haven’t really seen Jesus. We’ve missed the glory.

Where do you go to see Jesus?

Contemplate an image of Jesus that draws you in: a painting or crucifix, a stained glass window or creche. What does this image teach you about who God is and how God loves you? Express your heart to God in prayer with this renewed understanding.

“Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal”.

The Scripture (John 12: 24-25 Some Greeks Seek Jesus)

Jesus continued, “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal”.

The Story – The Grain of Wheat Must Die

In New Zealand there are more flightless birds than anywhere on earth. Among these are the kiwi and penguin. Scientists tell us that these birds had wings but lost them. They had no use for them. They had no natural predators on those beautiful islands, and food was plentiful. Since there was no reason to fly, they didn’t. Through neglect they lost their wings.

Compare them to the eaglet that somehow ended up in a chicken yard. The eaglet was raised with the chickens, pecking at corn and strutting around the chicken coop. One day a mountain man, passing by, recognised the bird, now a fully grown eagle, and asked the farmer if he could work to rehabilitate it. The farmer said, “Go ahead, but it’s useless. All that eagle knows is pecking corn like a chicken”.

The mountaineer began weeks of rigorous training with the eagle, forcing it to run after him so that it had to use its wings. Many times the eagle fell out of the limbs of trees onto its head. One day, finally, the mountaineer took the eagle to the top of the mountain and held it above his head on his wrist. Giving an upward thrust to his arm, he sent the eagle into the sky with a “Fly!”

The eagle circled and wheeled upward, straining, till soon it took off in a majestic sweep and looked directly into the sun. It was gone. It has recognised its nature. It was an eagle once more.

We have the choice of remaining kiwis or penguins, or of going through the pain of becoming the eagles God has called us to be. What is our choice? How do we make decisions?

The Commissioning

Give, remembering what Jesus gave.  We will receive beyond our wildest dreams.
Share your many talents.  We will rejoice in opportunities that are outside the box.
Partner with the mentally challenged and defeated. We will bring fresh vision and hope.
Confront the powerful and scornful. We will summon up courage and not back down.
Work with your colleagues. We will share in the common enterprises of faith.

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