“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” John 12:27-28
Yesterday, we welcomed a friend and missionary from Medellin, Colombia to Waypoint. During his presentation, he was asked “What lessons have you learned in planting a church in Medellin that could be transferred to Charlotte?”
His response was:
Well, to be honest, it would be a lot more difficult to start a church in Charlotte then Medellin because for street children in Medellin they have no hope. There is a need every where you go. But, it is probably that everybody needs a mission. Help them find their mission.
Now I was at a church so I could not jump up arms raising shouting “Amen, preach it brother” but instead folded my arms, nodded my head and said “hrrrmph” (the positive sounding one).
As a follower of Christ if you do not have a mission, then you are just gathering (arti)facts. Having just wrapped our series on Jesus in Mark’s Gospel as a Man on a Mission, I have become convinced of this: every man needs a mission.
Every man needs something worth dying for: A boy worries about himself, but a man seeks to give himself away.
As we enter the Christmas season, our world tells us that this is a season of self-indulgence but Jesus has shown us that the mission is self-denial.
- A boy sits on Santa’s lap generating a Christmas wish list, a man seeks to distribute the love of Christ.
- A boy grabs that extra slice of pie, a man looks to see who is still hungry.
- A boy sneaks another swig in order to drink for distraction, a man imbibes in the living water to hydrate for his mission.
That is what strikes me about this passage in John’s Gospel. Jesus admits that His soul is troubled. He knows that the cross is 5 days away, and so he asks his friends “What should I say?” Should I ask my Father to let me off the hook? Should I get all nasally and whine Daaaaaaaad, heeeeeelpppp? Should I just throw up my arms and I say I quit, this is too difficult; you promised me my best life now! Should I say, “Father save me from this hour?”
Jesus is rhetorically asking his disciples which way He should go: to accept the life of a boy or to embrace the mission of a man:
- A boy cries for self-preservation; a man leans into the battle.
- A boy fades away; a man enters the fray.
So, Jesus–though “troubled”–embraces His mission. “NO!” he declares.
He knows why He was born and He knows why He will die: “It is was for this very reason that I came to this hour.” He won’t back down because He knows His life’s mission is to glorify God. This decisive moment is precisely why He is here. He has a clear mission, one that ends tragically, brutally, and horribly, but it still His mission. He is to die on the cross so that you and I would not have to. Like a seed whose husk must die in order for new life to emerge, Jesus enters the fray.
Last night I came across this post on Facebook about Fr. James Martin, SJ. And as I have earlier pronounced my fascination with the Jesuits, this man’s story, grit and faith inspires me. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer, and was battling his mortality when a superior asked him about his upcoming death:
So I asked him: Do you think about death much?
“Yes,” he said. “I don’t dwell on it. But I do.”
He said, “Well, Jim, I’m a Jesuit, right? And Jesuits are always given a mission. So if my mission from Jesus right now is to be sick, then I accept it. And if my mission is to die, then I accept that mission, too.”
It is my prayer that I may I have a teardrop of courage demonstrated by this man; whatever the day.
So what is the mission Jesus has laid upon me today?