Religion Magazine

Hard of Hearing

By Nicholas Baines

Tuesday of Holy Week. Why does Jesus have to make it so complicated?

As he walks towards what will become his place of execution, he keeps talking to his friends in terms that need a bit of unpacking. Read John 12:20-36 and you’ll see what I mean.

One issue is that his friends don’t seem to have a mental or theological slot for an outcome that involves death and an end to their adventure. They’re not being deliberately blind or resistant; it just doesn’t hit their radar.

Hard of hearing
So, when Jesus tells them “to walk while you have the light” and that a “grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies”, they might well wonder what he is on about. No wonder he concludes: “My soul is troubled.” But, Jesus knows that there are some things that will pass them by now, but later will be recalled in hindsight with greater clarity. Not everything in life (or church) has to be immediately accessible.

When Jesus tells his friends to “walk while you have the light”, I wonder if he is also suggesting to them that something painful is on its way. For the light doesn’t just offer warmth and visibility, it also exposes all the rubbish. All the stuff we would prefer to keep hidden. And his friends are going to discover what they really believe, what they are really made of. For example, the big men will soon find out that they are not as brave as they had thought.

If Holy Week works well, it invites us to expose ourselves to the searching light of love and grace, that is unafraid of the darkness and unintimidated by the threat of reality.

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