We heard the reading of the Passion from Saint Matthew Yesterday, and, Tomorrow, Wednesday and Friday we hear from Saint Mark, Luke and John. Today we hear and consider the events of Holy Week between Sunday and Wednesday. The anointing of Jesus. The triumphal Entry, and then the Greeks who want to see Jesus, and Jesus once again hiding himself.
The entire reading is one of mistaken identities. Mary recognizes who Jesus is – Jesus’ disciple Judas does not. The crowd for the triumphal entry recognizes Jesus, the chief priests do not. The Greeks recognize Jesus, the people do not. Isaiah recognizes Jesus, the Pharisees do not.
Even when Jesus tells the people who he is and what he does, there are those who simply refuse to believe. How’s this for a sign – Raising someone from the dead. Jesus does it with Lazarus, and John tells us point blank that’s why the crowd was there on Palm Sunday. But the leaders don’t see it. They think the solution is to kill Lazarus. It explains why, elsewhere when the people say, “Show us a sign”, Jesus never does. .They won’t believe. The signs are there, and they reject them. Who seeks Jesus? Some Greeks who say, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
That’s a summary of what the church does, right there. Jesus gives the office of the ministry to the church, and the church to the world, so that people can see Jesus. Especially this week, we keep our eyes focused on Jesus. We show Jesus to the world. Because that’s what the world needs. Jesus says, “When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself.” It sounds like a great glorious moment. Lord We life you up! But Jesus isn’t talking about our praise. Jesus is talking about his crucifixion. The people didn’t get it. They thought he was saying, “I’m going to some sort of Mount Olympus for Jewish people.” Lifted up from the earth means crucified. Jesus will be crucified. The people don’t get it. With is no surprise. Isaiah already prophesied that the people wouldn’t get it. “He has blinded their eyes.” Then the Evangelist adds, “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.” Isaiah. six hundred years earlier, saw Jesus. We know that Isaiah was a great prophet. He was the one who prophesied that “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son…” he prophesied about the man of sorrows, Isaiah was given to see Jesus. John says it point blank. And he says it in the context of Jesus hiding himself from them, because they did not believe.
The Greeks want to see Jesus. The people do not believe, and so Jesus hides himself. Soon, Jesus will be lifted up in front of the world, but the world will not believe that either. They will not see it as Jesus being glorified but as Jesus being killed in the most shameful way possible.
In this reading, Judas doesn’t get it. The chief priests don’t get it. The disciples don’t get it. The crowd doesn’t get it. And the Pharisees don’t get it.
Oddly, the only ones for whom it does NOT say, they didn’t get it, is the Greeks who sought out Philip. They, and not the chosen people, are our example. They wanted to see Jesus. That’s what we need to do. To see Jesus. To have him brought to us by the Spirit. Not to look at his picture as if we just need an image in our head. But to believe who he is and what he does for us. That’s what the gift that the Spirit gives. Faith in the promise of Jesus. And Jesus gives us the Father. No other way to get the Father, but through Jesus.
The Father speaks from a cloud. And even with the voice from heaven, some people get it, and some don’t. Some say it thundered. Some, that an angel had spoken. Not everyone hears when God speaks. Because not everyone wants to.
The voice from the cloud is for our sake. So that we would hear and believe. But unless the Spirit unstops our ears, we are as deaf as Judas, or the Pharisees. The disciples finally understand after Jesus is raised from the dead. We have the advantage of hindsight. We look at the crucifixion from this side of the resurrection, and it all makes sense to us.
It still doesn’t make sense to the world. Right on schedule just in time for Easter, the news is coming up with new ways to deny who Jesus is that will “shake the foundations of the Church. Not so much. Jesus is our foundation. The world’s unbelief does not surprise us, anymore than it surprised Jesus. And our prayer is still, Sir We would see Jesus.