[Palm] Jn. 12:12-19; Ps. 118:19-29 (v. 26); [Passion] Ps. 31:9-16 (v. 5); (A) Isa. 50:4-9a, (B) Zech. 9:9-12, (C) Deut. 32:36-39; 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 were “these things” Jesus’ disciples did not understand at first? Certainly, Jesus’ humble kingship come for division: judgment and grace; they did not understand feeding the 5,000 and 4,000 as portent of a universal exodus to heaven’s festal board; nor the significance of Lazarus raised from the grave; nor the “necessity” of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection as contours of his “glory”.
But, in these end-times understanding “these things” are the essentials for our faith-life. Only with the HS’s bestowal in the Resurrection is the church enlightened (Ps. 118:27a) to “know God … and Jesus Christ whom he sent” (Jn. 17:3).
One theologian described the church’s advance in understanding “these things” as “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. Isaiah puts a point on this Christology; Jesus is God’s Listening, Obedient, and Suffering Servant (Isa. 50:4-6, series A); so too, the Baptized follow suit.
Mary treasured in her heart “these things” spoken of her firstborn son by shepherds (Lk. 2:19). Simeon prophesied that her “soul would be pierced” by those opposing him (v. 35); yet at first, Mary was without understanding.
At Cana, Mary urged her son to resolve the dilemma of a wedding celebration without wine. At first, Jesus rebuffed, “O woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn. 2:4); yet Mary’s request afforded Jesus an opportunity to begin instilling understanding among his disciples about “these things” of “his hour” and “his glory” (v. 11).
By changing OT water for ritual purifications to wedding wine, the church begins to comprehend Jesus’ “hour”, as source of her NT purification through water, blood, and Spirit from the cross. Holy Thursday’s Supper instantiated our new purification. “These” are the resurrection “Things” of the Church’s enlightenment delivered from the HS’s procession on Pentecost Day.
As for Jesus’ “hour” of glory, he awaited his Father. Greeks were in attendance at the Jewish Passover and heard shouts about Jesus, “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” Israel’s king, the same sign from the Magoi after Jesus’ birth, seeking the new “king of the Jews” (Mt. 2:2). Both Jesus and Pharisees understood the sign, who said, “Look the world has gone after him” (Jn. 12:19b). Jesus’ “hour” for glorification had arrived.
Knowing death was imminent, Jesus preached his “hour” and investiture into his kingdom. In the new creation Jesus is the Fallen Grain for multiplication of much fruit (Gen. 1:28; 9:1). This is not a parable; it is Jesus’ identity to be lifted on the cross for drawing many to God, “completing” his Baptism (Jn. 19:30).
Jesus’ “hour” about which he “shushed” his mother in Cana, reveals the Church to be his “Woman”, which Mary with the “beloved disciple” under his cross typifies (2:4; and 19:26, 27).
In the Resurrection the “Woman”, the Church, understands: her feeding signified by the 5,000 and 4,000 provisioning for NT fidelity (cf. Ex. 19:5-8).
Jesus, God’s Fallen Seed understood his “glory”. His exultation is knowable only at the cross; there can be no hail of Jesus as king apart from his nails. Jesus, first, last, and always is God’s self-emptied, sacrifice, elevated, and risen Lamb (Phil. 2:7-9).
Spiritual sight comes by heaven’s Light (Jn. 12:35a); thus, germination of God’s Fallen Seed in death gives us to “see” our King’s “hour”. God says of baptismal sightedness, “[T]here is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive” (Dt. 32:39, series C).
Of Jesus’ lifting, the woman proclaims: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD, even the King of Israel” (Ps. 118:26a), for discerning the Source of our Bread. In the Resurrection, Jesus’ body and blood are “these” unceasing “Things” of the church’s wisdom and Life.
Jesus teaches his passion to those who seek “to see” the King of Israel; “to know” him as God’s Servant for merciful forgiveness, purity, and zealous participation in the life God bestows on all who enter his presence in humility (Phil. 2:5-9).
Ancient Israel “grumbled” against God’s wilderness provision; temple Jews murmured against Jesus’ teaching (Jn. 8:58, 59). “At first” the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well failed to understand Jesus’ promise of “living water”; the 5,000 and 4,000 had hearts only for potable water and belly-bread.
But God desires better for his King’s woman, “these things” of heaven: purifying “Living Water”, “Bread of Life and angels”, and joyous “Wedding-day Wine”.
Pilate presented Jesus, scourged and wearing a crown of thorns to the Jerusalem crowd; “Behold the man!” (Jn. 19:5), the crowd changed its shout from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him!” (v. 6).
Today your sacramental reception of Jesus’ body and blood counterpoints Jerusalem’s rejection; he is our spiritual Food and wedding-Wine for comprehending God’s mercy in the glory of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection.
In these resurrection days, I present, for your acceptance or rejection, the same Jesus, whose “glory” is his passion; and as Pilate, I announce, “Behold the man!”. Your desire to see Jesus, should echo new sight, “Behold our King!” (v. 14b).
The cross repulses. Jesus’ Supper inaugurated his passion, proclaiming our Bread, Meat, and Drink in the new creation accepted in obedient hearing and entrance into his suffering. “In this manner God loved the world” (Jn. 3:16). Amen.