April 2, 2006

Fifth Sunday of Lent

"Cross Eyed: Glory"

(John 12:20-33)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn


The movie, Cinderella Man, takes place in the depths of the Great Depression. Boxer Jim Braddock's family, like so many others, is living in poverty. He gets up early one morning hoping to get a shift at the dock. He gets ready to sit down and eat a meager breakfast, prepared by his wife, Mae.

Jim gets up and wonders where his wife has put his socks. Mae tells Jim that she "washed them last night. Took them right off your feet." She pulls them from the oven where they have been drying.

Little Rosie, awakened by her parents talking says, "Mama, I want to eat too."

Mae tells her, "I'm gonna fix you something, honey."

Jim greets his daughter, and Mae tells him that they got another gas and electric bill. Jim sets Rosie at her seat and says, "I'll go get the milk." Mae gives Rosie a thin slice of bologna. Jim tromps upstairs but finds the milk bottles empty and a "Past Due" notice attached. Mae says she thinks there is some left over, and pulls out a bottle only 1/5 full.

Jim reminds her that he has a "fight tonight at the armory," adding that it's "fifty bucks, win or lose."

Mae says, "that's good." And Jim says that if he wins, "Maybe I can get my purses back up to $75."

Mae brightens, "That'd be great!" Jim looks over and sees Rosie eating with her fingers and tells her to use her fork.

Mae adds water to fill up the milk bottle and quips, "Who needs a cow?" She takes the milk to Rosie, who announces, "I want some more."

Mae says, "I'm sorry, sweetheart, I have to save some for the boys." She puts a slice down in front of Jim, but Jim looks at Rosie, then at Mae and says, "Y'know Mae, I dreamed last night that I was having dinner at the Ritz with Mickey Rooney and George Raft." He tells her he had a thick, juicy steak, and a mountain of mashed potatoes, and I went back for ice cream three times. "I'm stuffed. I'm absolutely full; I can not eat another thing." Then Jim looks lovingly at his daughter and says, "Wanna give me a hand?" And then he puts his food on his daughter's plate.

Mae, seeing that her husband will go hungry, calls after him, "Jim, Jimmy!" But he just looks at her and his daughter and turns to go to work leaving Rosie to finish her breakfast, unaware of the sacrifice made for her.

Jim Braddock needed that food. But in response to the cry of his daughter, he sacrificed his own well being to give her what she needed. Why? Because he loved her.

In the same way, God sacrificed His only Son for our sakes. Why? Because God loves us.

In today's passage of Scripture we're reminded once again of the extent of that love. But we also see the love the Son has for us. But even more we see the love Christ Jesus has for God. I'm going to be reading from the Message this morning.

John 12:20-33 (MSG)

[20] There were some Greeks in town who had come up to worship at the Feast.

[21] They approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee: "Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?"

[22] Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip together told Jesus.

[23] Jesus answered, "Time's up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

[24] "Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.

[25] In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.

[26] "If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.

[27] "Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? 'Father, get me out of this'? No, this is why I came in the first place.

[28] I'll say, 'Father, put your glory on display.' " A voice came out of the sky: "I have glorified it, and I'll glorify it again."

[29] The listening crowd said, "Thunder!" Others said, "An angel spoke to him!"

[30] Jesus said, "The voice didn't come for me but for you.

[31] At this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out.

[32] And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me."

[33] He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death.

In the midst of this discourse on following Jesus, Jesus gives glory to God and in foretells how God will be glorified even more. And today, we come to Glorify God through remembering both the Cross and the Cup.


We look at the cross and think of the pain. We look at the cross and think of the agony. We look at the cross and think of the Sacrifice Christ made for our sakes. We look at the cross and we remember how God was glorified that day on the hill when Jesus was lifted upon it.

We look at the cross and we're reminded, that just like the grain of wheat He spoke of, Jesus was buried. There were those who thought that was the end. But we know it wasn't the end. Like the grain of wheat, Jesus brought forth new life and Glorified God in the most fabulous way, through the Resurrection.

God was glorified, not so much in the cross of Christ, though we certainly see the Glory of God in the forgiveness and salvation and mercy and hope which the Cross brings. We certainly see the Glory of God as we look back with Cross Eyed Faith at the events of that day.

And God was glorified, not so much in the death of Jesus, though we honor and remember that, too. Because without that grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying, there would have been no Resurrection.

But it wasn't the Cross and it wasn't Jesus' death which brought the most Glory to God. No! God was glorified in the obedience of Jesus. That's the real glory of the Cross. That's the real Glory of Jesus' death. Because Jesus had a choice.

Remember He said, "Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? 'Father, get me out of this'? No, this is why I came in the first place. I'll say, 'Father, put your glory on display.' "

The greatest Glory comes because of Jesus' obedience built upon His love for God and His love for us. That obedience is witnessed in the Cross but that obedience is what is most important.


Through the Glory of that obedience, we are privileged to experience the Glory of the Cup and the Loaf. If you remember, it was this Cup, the Cup of Redemption which Jesus drank specifically for us. If you remember, it was this Cup, Jesus prayed to have taken away. But once again, it was Jesus Obedience which brought Glory to God.

Today, and every time we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we experience and remember the Glory of God. Today we're invited to share in the Glory of God when we come to this table to receive the Cup and the Loaf. At first, the Lord's Supper may not seem like much of a banquet. But it is. In this meager piece of bread and this small sip of wine, we experience again the fullness of God's blessing. We're fed at an all you can eat buffet of God's Grace. A banquet set before us by the very hand of God. A banquet where we are the honored guest.

The little morsel of Bread and Wine which we receive may only be in our bodies for a short time. But the memory of what we've thought, what we've felt and what we've experience at this Table through this Loaf and this Cup, lasts much, much longer. Not only will it last until we gather again at the Lord's Table, but it reminds us of our place at the Table.

Did you hear about the professor who was so absent-minded that when he fell down the stairs, he got up and said, "I wonder what all that noise was about?"

You and I have been given a great gift, the gift of memory and the gift to access those memories. The Lord's Supper is a time when we remember. A time when we regain our memories of who we are and whose we are.

And it's a time when God loses God's memory of those things we have done and left undone that have separated us from God and each other. And in so doing, God pulls out our chair, welcomes us back home and is glorified once again through this Cup and through this Loaf.


God loves us so much that God sent His only Son to give His life for us on the cross. God offers us New Life and Eternal life. And that promise is wrapped up in the table before us.

So this morning I invite you to come to the Table remembering the Cross. I invite you to drink from the Cup of Redemption. Share in the Loaf of the Bread of life. Remember what Christ has done for you.

Feast at the all you can eat buffet of God's grace and help God to forget through your repentance. Come to the place prepared just for you.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.



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Other References Consulted

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