Contributed by David Dodson, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Have you ever been one of the first to purchase a brand new product; have you watched a TV show or movie before it was officially released? What excited you?
Shiny and New!
There is just something about Apple products, isn’t there? Whenever a new iPhone or iPad is announced, millions of people all over the world begin anticipating its arrival. The more recent version of the iPhone – the 4S model – is no exception. During the three days following its launch, over 4 million iPhones were sold. That’s over twice as many as were sold for the launch of the original iPhone 4. In the weeks that followed, many stores had to use a reservation system, requiring customers to reserve their phones a day or more in advance. There weren’t enough to go around!
- What do you think made the iPhone 4S such a high-demand item?
- Would you be willing to travel and wait in line to get a new, state-of-the-art phone, video game, or other tech toy?
Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, March 25, 2012 (Fifth Sunday in Lent)
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
John’s story of Jesus’ ministry reaches a climactic point in today’s gospel reading. This passage tells the story of the pivotal moment when Jesus’ message of the love of God becomes a message to the entire world. To fully understand the meaning of this moment, we ought to break it down and consider each part in turn.
“We wish to see Jesus”
For Jesus (and for Paul after him), an important part of God’s love was that it is open to all people, everywhere. In this passage, we see that Jesus’ ministry has awed so many people, that news of his preaching and healing has reached partway around the Mediterranean to Greece. These Greeks have traveled hundreds of miles to the Temple in Jerusalem, and the most important thing to them is to meet this miraculous, loving Jesus.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
The visit by these Greeks is certainly an amazing thing for the disciples to see. How amazing that people from so far away are traveling to see one man! For Jesus, however, this is a sign of something more. The arrival of these Greeks shows that the time of his ministry is complete. Jesus has spread the word of God and has told the people what they must do to show their devotion to God. He has told the people that God calls his people to care for “the least of these” – those whom society has all but forgotten. And he has showed the people what it is to be truly holy – forgiving, loving, and healing, even when others thought it impossible.
Now, however, the second part of Jesus’ mission begins. It is time for Jesus to show the world the true glory of God by not only giving himself over to die for the sins of the world, but by defeating death, rising again and guiding his people to eternal life in God.
“Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for an eternal life.”
As Jesus prepares to make this sacrifice, he calls God’s people to make their own kind of sacrifice. If we are attached to our own “lives” – our wants, our desires, our comfort – then we are doomed to lose them. Instead, we are called to view these things as secondary to something much more important: our commission from God. We are called to lay our own selfish desires aside and act as Jesus taught us, looking after the poor, the weak, and the oppressed, and bringing the message of God’s love to the world.
“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”
Jesus’ call for us to lay our own desires aside is hard, but it comes will the best news we could ever here: If we follow Jesus, he will be right there beside us. As we go into the world, we stand at the right hand of the one who taught us to love, Jesus of Nazareth. This is good news indeed!
- What do you think it was about Jesus and his message that led the Greeks to travel so far to see him?
- Why does Jesus say that we have to make personal sacrifices in order to carry out God’s mission to us?
- How can Jesus’ words in this passage offer us strength?
Create movie-style posters that show the people of God doing the work that Jesus called us to do. Put NOW PLAYING or COMING SOON at the bottom, and explain your poster to the group. Display these posters prominently in your church!
God our Father, we thank you for the many gifts you have given us; especially do we thank you for sending your son to invite us into your kingdom. Watch over and guide us this week. Most of all, Father, prepare us at all times to represent your love and grace to those around us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.