‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’

-John 12:20-32

We’re not going to think or strategize away the ruler of this world, and we’re certainly not going to drive it out with swords or guns or military might. Instead, we’re going to do what Jesus invites us to do; we’re going to follow him, and all the way to the cross. We’re going to be buried and planted with him. And as we are buried with him, we crucify all the self-importance, all the addiction to victory. We also crucify the myth of redemptive violence, that myth that says the only way to overcome evil violence is with an act of greater, more righteous violence.

What Jesus says instead is, I’m going to let the ruler of this world bury me. We’d be doing ourselves a big favor if we could admit to ourselves how little sense this makes, how much it violates the logic that we live by day to day, year to year, election to election.

The only way to live, to experience the richest kind of life, is to give up completely on the idea that my life is something that belongs to me. Let go of your life, Jesus says, and then experience eternity. And Jesus isn’t bluffing when he says this, which is why he refuses to pray for deliverance, and instead pray that God’s name would be glorified.

“The time has come for the son of man to be glorified,” says Jesus. That’s what the cross is to Jesus – glory, splendor, majesty. If the cross doesn’t look that way to us, it’s because our desires and imaginations are still derived, not from Jesus, but from the world around us. The cross, that act of brutal murder, it is a thing of glory. Can you see it? Does it make any sense to you at all? If not, don’t feel bad. It doesn’t make much sense to those standing nearby in John 12. It only sounds like thunder. If the logic of self-giving love only sounds like inarticulate thunder, then let’s try to listen again, and again, and again, until the booming thunder starts to sound more like the voice of God telling us what shape his glory is taking – the shape of the cross, the shape of a seed being buried.

May this self-giving love mean everything to us. May it not be the most important thing to us, but the only thing. Let Jesus, right here and now, plant within us the seeds of relinquishment, seeds of self-giving love. And let it displace every seed of hate and division and violence.


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