“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.”
“Here comes the good part,” I’m thinking to myself. My hopes and dreams are fanned into life by the breath of Jesus’ words, and once again I can’t wait for Him to be glorified.
I am greatly encouraged as well by His words to me, saying, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there My servant will be also.”
Wonderful! I get to be with Jesus! I get to follow Him in all things to His glory, for the hour has come that He should be glorified.
But these wonderful words of Jesus are surrounded by other words of His which I find to be not so much wonderful as “lufrednow” (“wonderful” backwards). And now I am revealed for what I am, one who chooses to see what I want to see in Jesus and to hear what I want to hear in His words. Between the 2 wonderful words I rejoiced in a moment ago are these lufrednow words of Jesus: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
The “it produces much grain” part I’m O.K. with, but I’m not sure I want to face anything with the word “die” in it. I’m not sure I’ll like what it implies for me. So sometimes I ignore it.
But Jesus is persistent: He knows I may refuse His teaching the first time, so He comes to me in one of the many terrifying juxtapositions in His Word. Right after He has comforted me by telling me that “where I am, there My servant will be” (that’s got to be good), He has to turn to me, look me in the face so I won’t miss His meaning, and tell me: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour?”
Without missing a beat, He turns from telling me that if I serve Him and follow Him I will be where He is, to telling me that where He’s going is somewhere so terrifying that even the Son of Man’s soul is troubled over it.
It’s just as I suspected, and now I have no illusions about it: He’s calling me to follow Him to the Cross today. I should have known it when He said, “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” But now it’s all too plain. Yes, if I follow Him I will be where He is, but one of the places He’s going is to the Cross.
I stop and sigh for a moment. I’m not sure I want to go on. My daily burden is already pretty heavy sometimes, and I’m ready to get to the good stuff in a hurry.
But it’s too late: I’ve already promised Him that I love Him and trust Him and want nothing more than to be with Him wherever He is. But silly me: I assumed that because He’s already ascended into heaven that I could Go directly to Boardwalk, pass Go, and collect my heavenly treasure, without making any stops along the way.
But that’s not how He got to heaven, and that’s not how He’s taking me there, either.
Instead, He leads me to the Cross and points to it. He places Himself upon it, a willing sacrifice to the Father, and then looks at me with those eyes, and without a word says to me: “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there My servant will be also.”
I debate a moment, wince, and then remember my vows.
And it hurts. The Cross in my life hurts, and only a fool would say that it doesn’t.
But then I notice something else, something I hadn’t quite factored in enough. That “something” is that there is a difference between the Cross He bore for me and the Cross I bear for Him. When He bore my cross, there wasn’t anyone else there to comfort Him and ease His suffering. But when I bear my Cross, for it is rightfully mine, He is there with me. And that makes all the difference in the world.
And then I suddenly get it. Through the suffering, because of the suffering, I get it. He is the grain of wheat that had to fall to the ground and die so that it might produce much fruit. But one of the fruits that He produces is me. And now genetically I am His grain of wheat, and so I must follow Him, the One I said I wanted to be with, and now it’s my turn to die. I must die to myself, and the Old Man in me must die: he must be crucified.
But this isn’t all there is to being with Jesus: the moment I allow myself to die with Him on the Cross, He also raises me to new life with Him, as He promised. I am with Him on the Cross and with Him in His resurrection: I am with Him in death so that I might be with Him in life. Therefore, I will not be afraid of the terrible hour of suffering when it comes to me, for through it Jesus is leading me to life and to glory.
In this life there is, therefore, a strange mixture of life and death, of the Cross and the Resurrection. I am both on earth and in heaven, for I am with Him wherever He is.
And now I get it: whatever happens in this life, if I serve Him and follow Him, I will be with Him. When times are bad and I suffer in any way, I am with Him in His suffering. And when times are good and I am happy in any way, then I am with Him in His glory. He’s got me covered!
I get it now. The wonderful things are wonderful, and the lufrednow things are also wonderful because I am with Him in all things. So you see, He gave me just what I pleaded for after all: nothing more and nothing less than to be with Him wherever He is.
Prayer: Lord, since thou has taken from me all that I had of thee, yet of thy grace leave me the gift which every dog has by nature, that of being true to thee in my distress, when I am deprived of all consolation. This I desire more fervently than thy heavenly kingdom. Amen. (Mechthild of Magdeburg)
Point for Meditation:
- What parts of your life right now are not so good? How might you seek to be with Jesus in them?
- What parts of your life right now are good? How might you seek to be with Jesus in them?
Resolution: I resolve to seek Jesus above all else today. I further resolve to make it my prayer today to seek Him eagerly in all things.
© 2016 Fr. Charles Erlandson