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Palm/Passion Sunday (3/28/2021)

Jn. 12:12-19; Ps. 118:19-29/Ps. 31:9-16 (v. 5); Isa. 50:4-9a (A), Zech. 9:9-12 (B), Deut. 32:36-39 (C); Phil. 2:5-11; Jn. 12:20-43.

Things, [Jesus’] disciples did not understand these things at first, but when [he] was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him (v. 16).

What “things” did the disciples not understand at first? Certainly, not Jesus’ kingship in humility for division, judgment and grace; feeding 5,000 and 4,000 portending a universal exodus to heaven’s festal board; nor the resurrection of Lazarus; nor the “necessity” of Jesus’ passion and death providing the contours of Kingdom “glory”.

Jesus’ disciples “did not understand… at first”; but in these end-times we understand “these things” as essentials to a vibrant faith life. Only in the Resurrection’s bestowal of the HS does the church advance in “the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom he sent” (Jn. 17:3).

One theologian describes our advance: “all theology is Christology”, i.e., all God-talk is Jesus-talk; one does not come to God apart from the word and work of the man Jesus. [Series A only, Isaiah puts a fine point on the church’s Christology; Jesus is God’s Listening, Obedient, and Suffering Servant (Isa. 50:4-6,); so too, the life of the Baptized.]

Mary treasured in her heart “the things” spoken by Bethlehem shepherds of her firstborn son; and Simeon prophesied that her “soul would be pierced” by those opposing him (Lk. 2:19, 35); yet Mary, at first, was without understanding.

At Cana, Mary urged Jesus to resolve the dilemma of a wedding without wine. Jesus rebuffed, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2:4); yet her request afforded Jesus opportunity to instill in his disciples the seed of understanding in the resurrection about “all things” concerning his “hour” and “glory” (v. 11).

In turning OT water for purification rituals to wedding wine, the church comprehends Jesus’ hour of glorification to be her purifying New Covenant in water, blood, and Spirit from the cross, sacramentally instantiated in Holy Thursday’s Supper. These are the Resurrection “things” only comprehensible to the church with the HS’s procession from Father and Son.

As for Jesus’ “hour”, he awaited the Father. Greeks attending the Passover of the Jews heard shouts of “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel” (12:13, 14).

These Gentiles desired “to see” the king of the Jews, the same sign from Gentile magi after Jesus’ birth (Mt. 2:2). Jesus understood the sign of seeking Greeks, as did the Pharisees who observed, “Look the world has gone after him” (Jn. 12:19b), to indicate his “hour” had arrived.

Knowing death was imminent, Jesus explained his “hour” and kingdom investiture in parable: the Fallen Grain. Jesus is God’s Fallen Seed for multiplication of fruit (Gen. 1:28; 9:1) in the new creation; lifted on the cross he will draw many to God in “completion” (Jn. 19:30) of his baptismal commission.

The parable reveals the church as his “Woman”, of which Mary at the cross with the “disciple Jesus loved” is type (vv. 26, 27). In the resurrection the “Woman” understands: her new Feeding signified by the 5,000 and 4,000 harkening us to NT eucharistic provisioning for fidelity and obeisance (cf. Ex. 19:5-8).

As Jesus being “Fallen Seed” developed in real time, Jerusalem became increasingly frustrated, misunderstanding the kind and manner of God’s “glory”; yet Jesus’ exultation is knowable only on the cross; there can be no hail of Jesus as king, apart from his nails. Jesus, first, last, and always is God’s sacrificed, elevated, and risen Lamb.

Spiritual sight comes by heaven’s Light (Jn. 12:35a); thus, the Fallen Seed’s germination in death gives us to “see” our King within parameters of Jesus’ “hour”. [Series C only, Of Jesus’s death and our Baptism into it, God says, “[T]here is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive” (Dt. 32:39].

Of Jesus’ lifting, the church understands and proclaims, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD, even the King of Israel” (Ps. 118:26a), discerning our household Bread, in its locale is Jesus’ crucified flesh. In the Resurrection, Jesus’ body and blood are the unceasing “Things” of the church’s wisdom and Life.

Jesus, Fallen Grain, teaches his passion to those desiring “to see” their King; “to know” him as God’s granary-Servant for forgiveness, purity, and zealous participation in the life God bestows for all who enter into his humility (Phil. 2:5-9).

Ancient Israel “grumbled” against God’s wilderness provision; as did temple Jews against Jesus teaching in their midst (Jn. 8:58, 59). “At first” the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well; the 5,000 and 4,000 fed by Jesus in the wilderness only had hearts for potable water and belly-bread. But God desires better for his people, “the Things” of heaven: “Living Water” that purifies, “Bread of Life”, and “Wedding-Wine” for the “Woman”.

Pilate presented Jesus to the Jerusalem crowd, scourged and wearing a crown of thorns, “Behold the man!” (Jn. 19:5), the crowd changed its shout from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him!” (v. 6).

Today our sacramental reception of Jesus’ body and blood is counterpoint to Jerusalem’s rejection; he is our spiritual Food and wedding-Wine, comprehending his passion, death, and resurrection.

I am a sinful man. In these resurrection days of the church, I present you, for acceptance or rejection, the same Jesus, whose “glory” is his passion, and with Pilate announce, “Behold the man!”. Your desire to see Jesus, should as well echo Pilate, “Behold [our] King!” (v. 14b).

The cross repulses. Jesus’ Supper inaugurated his Passion. He is our Bread, Meat, and Drink in the new creation through obedient listening and entering his suffering. It is In this manner God loved the world” (Jn. 3:16). Amen.


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