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From the Priest-In-Charge of Sarum St. Martin’s

Lent 5 B 2018

Words from this morning’s Gospel reading:  Jesus says:
‘What shall I say: Father, save me from this hour?  But it was for this very reason that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’

To understand what we will again celebrate in less than a fortnight’s time we need to understand these words of Jesus and take them to our hearts.  So, let us make the effort to understand.

Firstly, let us understand when these words were spoken:-
Jesus had just triumphantly entered Jerusalem.  The people had made a carpet of palm leaves for his donkey to walk on whilst they shouted ‘Hosanna’ a word which means ‘Save Us’.  Jesus then went to the Temple and taught the crowds which had come up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover amongst which was Greek Gentiles attracted to the ethical teaching of Judaism.  These Gentiles wanted to hear more of this of this Rabbi and thus asked to see him.  

Secondly, let us understand where these words were spoken:- 
Jesus was teaching in the Temple.  As a Rabbi he would have sat a little raised up in a cloister with his hearers gathered around him listening.  As he taught the noise in the background would have been the chants and trumpet calls of the Temple ritual and the air would have been filled with the mingled smells of incense and burnt offerings.  Yet more importantly, as he taught he would have been facing the central core of the Temple complex, that is the Holy Place with the Holy of Holies at its eastern end divided from the Holy Place by the Veil.

Thirdly, let us understand the significance of the Temple:-
The heart of the Temple was the Holy of Holies, the most sacred space in Judaism.  A windowless cube, this was the Place of Meeting, this was Heaven on earth, this was where the Hebrews came, in the person of the High Priest, to stand before God Most High to receive His Atonement; God remaking the Unity of humankind with Himself in the ritual of the Day of Atonement once each year in the autumn.

Now, let us pull these three threads together:-
The people had shouted ‘Hosanna’, Save Us, as Jesus entered the Holy City, they had followed him to the Temple bringing with them Gentiles and together they had listened to what he taught.  And what he taught was in essence quite simple and wonderfully precise: what he taught was that he must be put to death so that the Father might be glorified and that the cry of Hosanna might be fulfilled. .

Fr David Fisher

There are those people, good people without doubt who say that the death of Jesus on the cross was somehow an accident, that what is important about Jesus is his ethical teaching, perhaps like those Greek gentiles who asked to see Jesus, to the exclusion of his death on the cross.  They are wrong.  Others want to focus upon the miracles, perhaps especially the healing miracles, of Jesus and so downplay his death on the cross.  These too are wrong.  Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, ‘God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father’, came for this one reason, to die and to rise, that the Father might indeed be glorified and the cry of Hosanna might indeed be fulfilled

As Jesus taught in the Temple he knew what was about to unfold, that is that the Loving Father, God Most High, was about to break down all barriers to Unity with Himself, was about to tear in two the Veil of the Temple, in the death and rising of His Son, and so Jesus taught   ‘ ... it was for this very reason that I came to this hour’; the very reason being his death and resurrection.   As he sat teaching in the Temple Jesus looked upon the Place of Meeting built in wood and stone that was limited in time and space and bound to decay and knew that he was about to fulfil the Temple rituals in his own body and thus make the glorious and eternal Place of Meeting with God Most High in his own Body and Blood.  Without what happened on the cross we would not be here, for what happened on the cross was consummated in the empty tomb and out of God’s death came God’s life for all who call upon him.  As the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote in the second lesson this morning ‘he’, Jesus, ‘became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation’.  The crucified and risen Jesus is the way in which ‘they will all know me’ as Jeremiah wrote in the first lesson this morning.  They are us; me is God Most High.

In less than a fortnight we celebrate the death of Jesus, a death that was no accident for it is the only way to the resurrection, the only way that the cry of Hosanna might be fulfilled. 
Our prayer must be that we cleave closer to Jesus this Easter, even more than before, and that we feel his necessary pain, so that we may feel and understand his new and eternal life.  This new and eternal life that he brings us in our baptism and confirmation, in our confessions, and in our Holy Communion, which is, True Unity and Oneness with God Most High, not in a decaying Temple made by human hands but in the Temple of living flesh, who is Jesus our Lord and God.


By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God, may we walk eagerly in that same charity with which, out of love for the world, your Son handed himself over to death.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ .
Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord; and where I am, there also will my servant be


Almighty God, you have made us members of Christ and of his Church in this parish. May we as a congregation reach upwards to your throne in worship and adoration: inwards to one another in understanding and fellowship; and outwards to the world in evangelism and social compassion. Make us like a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden, so that men and women may find Christ as the Light of the World, and his Church as the family of the redeemed, and eternal life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen.

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