Published on May 15th, 2019 | by Stephen Barrington0
The final challenge, John 12:44-50. May 15, 2019
Nga mihi mahana i tenei ata e hoa ma; rangimarie ki a koutou katoa. Warm greetings friends this morning; peace be with you all. Our gospel today is from John 12:44-50. Headed up ‘The final challenge’ in our Bibles.
These words are the last words in the public space that Jesus spoke as a ‘free man’. They capture and express the challenging nature of his life and belief that he had come from God, and that embracing his way was to walk in the light and truth of the living God. He comes to save and not to judge – but as with anything important by ignoring the truth we end up judging ourselves, if we ignore the warnings and offer of living in a different and better way.
You have probably been in the situation where something has gone wrong – immediately some want to blame someone for causing the catastrophe, to judge or maybe to work out how to avoid that disaster from happening again. If that situation is to be ‘redeemed’, judging at this point is not helpful. Constructive discussion to find a solution that can redeem, or make the situation better. is what is required. Jesus in our text acknowledges that there is a ‘dark power’ at work, but he calls us to walk in his light as the solution. Come with me friends, do it God’s way and eternal life is available.
We all know that Jesus has been living a life at the margins of his society, speaking hope and courage to the poor and challenging those in power to be compassionate. This text is right on the explosion point of these two narratives colliding. The call to give up the power of darkness, and to love instead
In the last week the United Nations has released a report on the issue of ‘climate change’. This issue is the big issue of our time right now. The science is in, it has been collected over a long time now and it is clear that the wealthiest nations are contributing the most to this phenomena which is affecting the poorest people the most.
As followers of Jesus we must engage in this issue. Jesus came to save the world – what does this mean? Just the people who say a magical salvation prayer or the world in its entirety? There will be debates about this continuum for a while no doubt. It seems the reality though that if we ignore the science and do not change our behaviour immediately then the climate will judge us for ignoring reality. This issue is a real issue for disciples of Jesus and it should be a thorn in our side now. If we are truly friends of the poor, friends of the outcast – then we will know personally the effects that climate change is bringing. People in my church family are being flooded off their land in Kiribati now as sea levels rise; and many others are suffering climate change affects. Bangladesh and Mozambique come to mind…..
So the ways of Jesus, the ways of the living God that Jesus embodied are again challenging us today. Can we put aside our desires for comfort and consumption so that the poor are not oppressed, again. Can we choose to love our neightbour as ourselves and change our behaviour. This is a real opportunity for us to engage with that old fashioned thing called repentance – to turn around and start afresh. Corky spoke of this reality in his life last week and what that ‘you-turn’ has meant for him. What does this mean for each of us…..??
Friends, the words of Jesus and the ways of Jesus are as important today as ever. Maybe even more important than ever with climate change on the cusp of getting out of control and potentially making life on earth impossible. This is challenging stuff, but as always the ways of God that bring ‘salvation’ to the world do not line up with the lust for power that the elites of any age struggle with. It was a difficult time for Jesus to stand up and live in God’s ways – it will be no different for us. May we encourage each other to choose to follow the steps of Jesus, to embrace the struggle for justice and hope in our world now.
In times of crisis like we are currently in words of comfort and gifts of money will not be enough. We must once again turn and acknowledge that loving our neighbours requires us to change our behaviour, the actual things we do each day. May God give us inspiration and courage to walk with Jesus in his way of sacrificial and suffering love.
Buckshot – GSCMC Wellington, New Zealand