30 March Anno + Domini 2010
John 12:23-50 (Isaiah 49:1-7; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25)
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Father, glorify your name.” These are the words of your Savior, dear friends, and they are words of the purest Gospel. Jesus knows that His hour has arrived. His soul is troubled, for He knows what lies ahead of Him. He knows what this hour means for Him. He knows what He must endure. He knows about the mockery and ridicule; about the betrayal and abandonment; about the agony and pain, the intense suffering that awaits Him. The cup of His Father’s wrath has been given Him to drink. That’s what His hour entails and He knows it. It is for this purpose that He has come – to take upon Himself the wrath and punishment of His Father, which He Himself doesn’t deserve, but which is deserved, instead, by all sinners.
How can His soul not be troubled at the thought of this hour? And yet, what does He say? “Father, save me from this hour?” No. He says, “Father, glorify your name.” Hours later, as He prays in anguish in
Gethsemane, even to the point of sweating blood, we get a glimpse into the suffering our Savior endured in our place. Even before the spitting and scourging and nailing and piercing, our Savior is in intense agony: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
What lies before Jesus is horrifying. Do not think otherwise, dear friends. We cannot even begin to fathom what He went through for us. That He willingly and lovingly submitted to the will of His Father, knowing what that meant for Him, is the Gospel in its purest form: “Father, glorify your name; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
This is Holy Submission, something that is often lost on us, especially we Americans, who love our independence and individualism. Submission has become a bad word among us today. Submission is seen as weakness. It is thought of as a lack of creativity or a lazy crutch. Those who buck the trend and willingly submit to someone or something, even when that submission conflicts with their own personal wants and desires, are rare indeed – and, not only rare, but viewed by our individualistic society as eccentric and crazy.
“Father, glorify your name; not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus submits to His Father, for He and His Father are One. Jesus knows that His submission is the only way to save sinners. So He goes, silently and willingly, to endure the horrors which await Him. He goes, for He knows that His submission is the only way to draw the sins of all people into Himself and make atonement for them with His precious Blood. He goes, for there is no other way to accomplish our salvation. His Father’s wrath must be spent; Hell must be endured; sin cannot go unpunished. So, He bears it all, in Holy Submission, for you.
And you need Jesus’ Holy Submission, for you know full well how often you have failed to submit to the Father’s will. You know how often you have gone with the crowd; how often you have bought into the independence and individuality promoted by our society. Repent. Believe. Submit. That is the call. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Take heart, beloved, for you have come to the right place. Here is where your Savior comes among you to distribute the fruits of His life-giving and life-sustaining cross. Eat His Body and drink His Blood – the very Body and Blood He gave and shed for you in the eternal glory of His Holy Cross – and be joined to His life, so that, washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb, you might depart not only in the peace of being forgiven and free, but in the strength to live and serve in His kingdom; that you might walk in His light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. Here is where you learn from your Savior how to live in holy submission to His Word and will. And while you’ll never master this holy submission this side of heaven, the Gospel by which you are being saved is powerful, able to produce in you abundant fruit, even the fruit of submission. That you are here proves as much, for submission to the Father’s will compels you to follow your Savior and come to where He promises to be. Receive the Divine Gifts your Savior gives to you here, that you may strengthened and preserved in the faith, learning to say with Him, “Father, glorify your name; not as I will, but as you will.” Lord, grant this unto us all. In Jesus’ Holy and Precious Name. Amen.
Now the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.