In the middle of his last meal with his disciples, Jesus predicts that one will betray him and another will deny him. He is right both times. We have all experienced the sting of betrayal or rejection, even from those closest to us. But in between these, Jesus offers a better way to respond: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Said, as it was, in the context of betrayal this phrase becomes even more powerful. This sermon will address this command – to love one another – as the ultimate form of power in the presence of those who hurt us.
In our world today, many are achieving power and position earlier in their careers and this can make them more entitled, less self aware and less sensitive to others. This sermon will discuss the temptation to use power or privilege wrongly, and speak of ways that we can sanctify it, “doing for each other what he has done for us.”
What if “the light” is coming and going all of the time, in windows of opportunity, in which we can choose to follow or choose to ignore? What if the most dreaded outcome for ignoring the light is darkness, in which no options are open to us, and no choice can be made?
As the Greeks appear, Jesus sees forward into his impending death and it is as though two roads appear, one called “Save me from this hour” and another called “Glorify your Name.” Jesus himself appears standing at the fork, where the roads diverge, and from here he says, “Now my heart is troubled and what shall I saw?” There is, in every person’s life, at least one crisis that puts us at this fork in the road. Before us lies divergent paths – save me from this hour, and glorify thy Name – and we must choose which road to take.
There are many today who speak of discipleship, of re-producing our lives in someone else, but according to Jesus, discipleship comes only after one has died to himself, only after he has lost himself in a message or a cause that is larger than himself. Yet there are many, as Fenelon said, “who want to die, yet attend their own funeral.”
Today Jesus is in Bethany at a dinner in his honor. During the meal, Mary pours a pint of alabaster, an expensive and potent perfume, onto the feet of Jesus and wipes them with her hair. This simple act of devotion creates controversy even outrage among Jesus’ disciples who have better plans for the money. But in this act, disciples of every generation are encouraged to pour their best, their possessions, their glory and the sum of their work onto the feet of Jesus.