Passion Sunday

Sermon for the 5th Sunday in Lent by Father Clive

This Sunday is the last before we remember Christ’s entry into Jerusalem, that is Palm Sunday. And then we go into Holy Week towards Good Friday, a day whose events were the start of an event that changed the world.

So on this Sunday I want to think about what it must have been like for Jesus and his disciples.

Our Lord had made it clear to his followers that he was to suffer unto death, and we know that He must have known all that that would involve: betrayal, pain, mockery, desertion, and yes, doubt. For we know that he asked for ‘this cup to be taken from him’ in His moment of humanness: but then immediately said, ‘Thy will be done’.

How did the disciples react at this time? Was it to try and persuade Him not to go forward? Well that would be natural. Was it fear about their own futures? That too would be normal, but I can well imagine that they were hoping for a different outcome.

It is something that we shall always wonder about as I suppose anyone who knows they are to be executed must think. And Our Lord was human after all. But if we read the Gospel again (at home perhaps) we shall see his remarks in verses 27-29 of John chapter 12.

‘Now my heart is troubled – and what shall I say? Father do not let this hour come upon me? BUT that is why I came – so that I might go through the hour of suffering.’ And he continues, ‘Father bring glory to your name’. ’Then a voice spoke from Heaven ‘I have brought glory to it, and I will do so again’ and at the beginning of verse 30 He adds ‘it is not for my sake that this voice spoke but for yours’ and read on to verse 33. And if you still are not sure just read on to Chapter 14 verses 1-14.

Our faith teaches us that Jesus is not just the messiah for the Jews but the Saviour of all people and that is how we understand these passages. God sent His Son for us and in everything we have read about His life from the miracles, parables and everyday events we see how God’s love will be universal. But that this love does involve action and indeed commitment by us, for through God ‘all things are possible’.

In this day and age we are assaulted daily in the media and by individuals with actions that could weaken our resolve, for Christians are so widely shown as rather pathetic. Often as the criminal, either mentally or violently and even sexually, especially in TV dramas and bad news reports about child abuse etc. This does not help. But remember that in every grouping of people there are those who are there for their own ends, and not for that of the group they belong to, and this can be seen throughout the world’s religions, political parties and governments, and in fact in every area of life, even if it is just to be noticed, as we see so much on social media and so called celebrities. Faith is an easy target often used by those with their own agendas.

Even Jesus, with all the good that he had done, all the people he had helped with healing and love, saw that among those very same people some would betray him and even call for his death. If our Lord could understand that, then how much more should we hang onto to that knowledge we have within our faith. Evil only succeeds when good people do nothing. Each individual Christian needs to stand by their faith and to speak out about it, because today we are finding that often our faith is a cause for dismissal, because we speak out on a certain issue and that may even be an issue that a majority would accept.

These next two weeks really do show us how Our Father loves and cares for us: He sent His own Son that we may have life and life eternal.

This year we are not able to show this in the Good Friday ‘Walk of Witness’, but we can show it in our words and actions day by day. For I believe that our greatest gift is revealed in the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we move towards the greatest event in human history let us pause, pray, meditate and try to understand the depth of the events to come, and how they have changed not only our lives, but countless millions of lives around the world, even in this age.