Last Sunday was Palm Sunday. We re-enacted the excitement of the palm waving crowds in Jerusalem, as they hailed Jesus as their messiah. It was Passover, the annual festival celebrating God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt. The streets of Jerusalem were crowded with worshippers from all over the Roman Empire and Africa. Word had gotten out about Jesus raising a dead man, Lazarus. Because of this miracle many came to believe that Jesus was the divinely anointed and empowered King of the Jews.
The religious leadership of Jerusalem was worried. They worried the crowds that hailed Jesus as king would raise the ire of Rome. They feared that they may lose their place of authority since the people now heeded Jesus, a nobody from the sticks up in Galilee. So they plotted to kill Jesus and Lazarus. But as the crowds shouted “Hosanna” to their hoped for messiah, the Pharisees exclaimed in exasperation, “You see, we can do nothing. Look, the whole world has gone after him!”
Our reading today follows immediately after Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Among the worshippers were Greeks who wanted to speak to Jesus. These were likely Greek-speaking Jews who were part of the diaspora, those Jews spread throughout the ancient world in the centuries following the conquests of Alexander the Great. What is significant about this moment is that Jesus realizes that word about his ministry had spread to faraway places beyond Judea. It was a sign to him that now was the culmination of all he had been doing. The ultimate showdown was about to commence.
Jesus said it was time for the Son of man to be glorified. To glorify is to exalt or honor a person, to make their name renown. Jesus was sent into this world to die as a sacrifice, to atone for sin, and purchase humanity’s freedom with His blood. Through the cross the evil ruler of this world, that is the devil, would be driven out of power. It seems strange to speak of the cross as victory or triumph, certainly not as glory. But Jesus said of his destiny that all people will be drawn to Him when he is lifted on the cross.
The crowd doesn’t miss his reference. They question how the messiah can die when the prophecies state his kingdom will have no end. Jesus answers in riddles, rather than give a plain response. Listening to Jesus requires thoughtful effort. You must be willing to work toward understanding. There is life in His words, but only to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. And so Jesus urges the crowd to walk while they still have the light, else darkness should overtake them. Walk in the light of Christ, by believing in Jesus Christ, so that you become children of light, instead of those who stumble under the dark influence of evil.
In 1974, Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese army intelligence officer, caused a sensation when he was persuaded to come out of hiding by a former comrade on the Philippine island of Lubang. Mr Onoda wept uncontrollably as he agreed to lay down his rifle, unaware that Japanese forces had surrendered 29 years earlier.
Evil is defeated on the cross of Jesus for the sake of all humanity. But the world goes on, stumbling in darkness, thinking and behaving as if we were masters of our own existence. But Easter shouts out victory! The war is over. Come out of the tombs! The victory is yours! And the glory belongs to Christ, which He happily shares with you by living in you.
So walk in His light each day and become children of light.