The Dean - The Very Reverend Andrew Nunn
Isaiah 49.1-7; John 12.20-36
They were just the latest to come with this request; they wanted to see Jesus
Many people had come along with this desire, with this request, people who’d fought for a place at the front of the crowd as Jesus passed by, people who’d climb trees to get a better view, people who would even just reach out to touch, when they could. These were just the latest who wanted to see him.
And what did they expect to see? They’d heard about him, the news had spread as far as the places that they came from. But what were they expecting to find?
It was the same for those shepherds abiding in the field, witnessing a sky filled with angels singing of glory. They came down from the fields and found a baby, in a manger.
It was the same with the wise men, watching the stars, seeing an auspicious sign. They looked in a palace first but were led to a little town and an ordinary couple.
It was the same in the Temple, teachers being told a new teacher was teaching. They found a young man, full of questions, full of answers.
It was the same with the rich young man, hoping for what money can’t buy. He found a challenge he couldn’t accept and went away the poorer.
It was the same with Herod, wanting to meet this miracle worker and see a sign or two. He found a man broken before him, a different sign.
It was the same with Pilate, a ruler encountering a ruler. He saw a king with a crown of thorns that made him wash his hands.
We want to see Jesus. But who do we want to see? Will the real Jesus meet our expectations, or be our disappointment. At the beginning of this Lenten journey, at the beginning of these forty days he’d sat in the wilderness and rejected all those ways we might have hoped he would be, the bread baker, the greatest showman, the king of kings. He’d rejected all these ways and chose a different road, that has brought him here, the road of the wheat grain.
We want to see Jesus. But do we want to see the Jesus of our fantasies or the Jesus of our better reality? Can we bear to see the Jesus of Good Friday, the grain that falls to the ground and dies? Is he the Jesus we want, is he the Jesus we have come all this way to see, to find? Or were we hoping for a different Jesus, a better Jesus?
But this is Jesus; this is God.
And if we wait, if we don’t just leave with unfulfilled expectations, with disappointment, we will encounter all that we had hoped for, the one who will feed us with living bread, the one who can give us signs of glory, the one who is king of kings and Lord of Lords and who will reign not from a throne in a palace, teach not from a chair in the Temple, draw not with the force of a conqueror, but will do all this, and more, from a cross.
The priest holds the broken bread before us and tells us that this is Jesus. We have found him, not as we might have imagined, but beyond our imagining, beyond our hopes, beyond our dreams. We would see Jesus. Here he is.