Lifted up for Love

One of the most powerful and heart wrenching scenes at the beginning of Jesus’ passion is that dubbed the “Agony in the Garden”, recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

John’s Gospel does not record this scene; however, many biblical scholars describe today’s gospel text as the “agony” scene in John.

In it we hear Jesus tell two of his disciples that his soul is troubled, and that he is ready to cry out to the Father, “Save me from this hour!”

In John’s account, some Greeks who want to see Jesus arrive at the very moment he is experiencing this agony, and in some ways these Greeks are the answer to Jesus’ prayer to be saved from the anguish of this hour.

Jesus cannot dwell on what awaits him if he is to remain resolutely faithful to his convictions and his mission because the cry of those Greeks reminds Jesus that there are people who need him, who need to experience God’s saving love through him.

The whole purpose of being lifted on the cross according to John’s recollection of what Jesus had said was nothing to do with fear, punishment or judgement, but love; love that would draw all people to himself.

The cross for John is about God’s eternal freedom and loving liberation. That’s it.

Does the extent of God’s mercy surprise you? Do you perhaps expect judgement rather than mercy from God?

What happens within us when we discover that God’s justice is full of mercy, rather than judgement?

Even in our first reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophet Jeremiah speaks about God’s love and forgiveness in planting the law of love deep within people’s hearts so that they will no longer need to be taught about God, but that through love they would already know God.

This I think was the message that Jesus was desperately trying to convey to those who would hear – a message that he refused to renounce, even at the cost of his own life.

What can we learn about the very nature of God's own love through Christ's example of loving kindness and compassion?

As I continue to share with people the Lenten reflections produced by Common Grace, this week we hear Kay Goldsworthy, the archbishop of Perth, reflect on her own experience of receiving God's forgiveness and mercy, and through that gift, learning what it means for us to show the same.

As we listen and contemplate on her words you might like to consider what would it look like for you to be open to God’s loving kindness and mercy in your own life?

Or to think of a time when you were able to show or experience justice which was grounded in mercy rather than judgement.

The communities around our church are filled with people and families who are struggling, where circumstances have left them broken, hurting or destitute. As we listen, let us also ask God to show his loving kindness, his mercy, his grace to them. And then prepare ourselves to be part of the answer to that prayer.

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