“Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:31-32
So here are three Lenten ponderings for us, as we stand positioned between the ruler of this age in his seduction and the man of Nazareth who is the alternative: 1. The new truth of Jesus, honoured by God, is that self-giving love is the wave of the future, and we are called to follow. 2. The Lord of the cosmos has signed on to this alternative we see in Jesus, because that is the very character of God. 3. The new way of suffering love in the world is a magnet that will draw us to new life.
Try this as a Lenten plot. Lent is the time we stand, each of us – liberal and conservative – just between the Lord of suffering love and the ruler of this world. We stand there pulled in both directions and sense the enormous ambiguity of our life, wishing to care and be generous but wanting also to be selfish and have it our own way. Lent is being drawn:
- to Jesus’ way in the world, to Jesus’ news, to Jesus’ people who practice generosity and forgiveness and hospitality; - away from the ruler of this world, away from greed, away from fear, away from anxiety, away from brutality.
We are all in this process. We are being drawn toward. We are being drawn away. The pivot point, the extreme case, is that Friday of forgiveness and thirst. But he said about himself and us, “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies… it will not grow.” The new growth from self-giving is Easter. Easter joy! Easter freedom! Easter goodness! But only via Friday. So we expect, in these thoughtful days, to be drawn to Jesus. Friday is his embodiment of self-giving love as a magnet. The heavenly God intends us to be attracted to it and therefore given a new start in neighbourly community. Do not linger over the rulers of this world. They are being driven out. The text gives us the secret clue to newness. The world little suspects. But we know! Draw us, Lord, toward you, toward your way of self-giving love. Draw us away from all that is not love – from the forces of greed, fear, anxiety, and brutality. In this Lenten experience of so being drawn toward you and away from the powers of the world,
may we come to find that new life that is the meaning of Easter. Amen (Walter Brueggemann, “A way other than our own” pp 86-7)