Sermon Lent 5 March 18, 2018

Jeremiah 31:31-34                Psalm 119:9-16    

      Hebrews 5:5-10         John 12:20-33

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

One of the blessings of this life is our ignorance.  There is a lot we don’t know and for good reason.  If we knew we were going to have a car accident on such and such a day, at such and such a time, we wouldn’t get that 100,000 kilometre service done or get that steering problem fixed, even if we knew that that was the problem that would cause the accident !  The mechanic would be out of a job, so writ large, knowing the future would ruin the economy and allow others to take advantage of it and you.  Insurers would cancel your insurance the day before the accident and you would be stuck.  You would lose your freewill too.  You might say  “I won’t drive that day”  but you will, it cannot be changed.  Your son or daughter will call and say they need your help urgently and you couldn’t refuse.  Hoping to sneak under Fate’s radar you would drive very carefully, very attentively and still some idiot would drive through a stop sign, your steering would fail and your car, demolished.  The ambulance, which of course was waiting at that particular intersection for you, would take the injured to hospital and the police would charge you with driving without insurance.  You lose whichever way you look at it and there is nothing you can do about it.

The great and recently late Stephen Hawking, brilliant physicist and author of  “A Short History of Time”  believed that time is linear and cannot be reversed.  He dismissed time travel as impossible because people from the future would be here already.  If they were here then we would have a key to what the future holds.  A couple of problems with that;  they may be here and yet have not identified themselves, and if they were here we may not recognise them, like those angels who drop into our lives at important times.  He didn’t accept that there is an all knowing God who could guide us with prophecy.  Stephen, an atheist, believed in a power that created the universe but he didn’t believe in a loving divine Being, so he missed out on God, God’s covenant, God’s plan, God’s prophecy and angels – until today.

But it’s better not to know the future, unless God reveals things to us for His purposes.  Things will be normal and the world will unfold exactly as it should, without us trying to rearrange what will happen, or have some smart folks take advantage of others or withhold help from others.  Why continue medical treatment to a patient who will die tomorrow, just put them out back, they are a lost cause, or why not just take them to the morgue today, the hospital needs the bed because they know another patient will arrive at precisely 2:16 pm today.  Why even start treatment if it’s not going to work ?  And if you were that patient where would your hope be ?  That is the picture of a dystopian world that none of us would want to live in I’m sure.  We would always be preoccupied with avoiding the bad things we knew were going to happen, we would fall into depression, and essentially give-up on living normal and abundant lives, sitting in our corners with no hope for the future.  In fact if that were the case everyone would be sitting in their corner having given up all hope, because that is what the future was foretold to be.  Humanity would thus cease to exist not with a bang but with a tear.

This picture kind of explains a piece of our Gospel today.  Some Greek Jews arrived in Jerusalem then an odd sequence of events took place.  They asked to meet Jesus with Philip’s help.  He spoke to Andrew, then Andrew and Philip spoke to Jesus.  Jesus, rather than saying  ‘Come on in, follow me’  to the visitors, responds with a prophetic answer about the nature and the reality of life and His death.  Jesus was preoccupied with His imminent future.  He knew what the next few days will bring.  He had not given up hope but was “exceedingly sorrowful even unto death”  (Matthew 26:38).  The divine knowledge Jesus had scared the man in Him.  He knew that His fate, His suffering and death were inevitable and that would scare any of us, if we knew our own agonising death was at hand and there was no remedy and no relief.  This, alas, was what Jesus was born for – to suffer.  He is the only one predestined to destruction, and the first one predestined to Resurrection.  Knowing that we will overcome Death is consolation for the agonising path getting there but we would wish neither agony nor Death.  I’m sure that is how Jesus was feeling at this time.  He welcomed new believers but His mind was on other things.  Don’t be mistaken though the future is preordained, there is a Plan, it’s God’s Plan for our Redemption.  We only know how we will get there because God has revealed it to us, but God has not revealed all the twists and turns that our lives will take before we arrive.  Those twists and turns will teach us invaluable lessons on living to Redemption and Eternal Life.

Jesus though knew of all the twists and turns, because of His divinity.  The true irony of course is that as the Perfect Being there would be no need for Him to go through Death.  He did so however for us.  Why ?  The theology is varied as to why Jesus died for us.  As a sacrifice ?  God doesn’t want sacrifice !  As a penalty ?  Is there no such thing as forgiveness !  As a ransom ?  Paid to whom – Satan ?  That doesn’t sound right does it, God being beholden to Evil !  There is another help we might get in this it’s called Occam’s Razor !  It says the simplest solution is the best.  Sin causes an imbalance, God wants to have things put right for us, so through His Son God balanced the books.  Jesus, the Son of God willingly took the burden of our Sin on Himself.  All the Debits in our ledger are matched by all the Credits Jesus provided on the Cross, because of that we can start over again, but this time we are right with God.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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