Scripture: John 12:30-50
Observation: Jesus speaks to the crowd, telling them that it’s almost time for him to die. Suddenly, a voice from heaven declares that he already brought glory to the name of God (through the birth of Jesus) and that he will do so again (through the death and resurrection of Jesus). Finally, Jesus talked about being light in a world of darkness.
Application: In the first few hours of my day, I’ve enjoyed quite a few things – quiet time reading my Bible and praying, coffee (not one, but two cups that I only had to warm up about six different times because #momlife), snuggled with Luka while watching Christmas movies on Netflix, read a new book, researched new recipes and did meal planning for this week, and enjoyed a very delicious homemade egg sandwich with fresh berries.
On days like this, it’s easy to say that I love my life. (It’s also a weekend, and isn’t life always just a little bit slower and sweeter on weekends?)
So when I read Jesus’s words in John 12, they’re more than a little jarring. He tells his disciples to separate themselves from loving this world, asking them to develop an apathy for their everyday life.
“’Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” (v. 25)
To understand what Jesus is really saying, let’s do this: take your hands and clench them into fists. Did you do it? Come on, do it. Okay, I’m assuming you finally did it. Reflect on what you’re feeling in your body right now. You’re tight. You’re restricted. You can’t receive anything – your hands are closed.
Now, release your fists. Open them up so your palms are facing towards you. Reflect on what you’re feeling now. Open. Loose. Ready to receive.
When Jesus speaks to his disciples, he’s really saying this: “Live your life with open hands. Make me the center of your world. Don’t clench too tightly to anything or anyone else. Learn to love freely, not because of what you expect to receive from anyone else but because of your deep love for me. Don’t let your faith be dictated by your feelings. Don’t let your joy be determined by your circumstances. Love me more than you love your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends, your success, your financial security, your control. I know it’s crazy. But it’s worth it. And if you do, you’ll experience the truly freeing hope, peace, and joy that comes from a relationship with me.”
“Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” (v. 28)
Let’s be where Jesus is. He meets us in the place where our hands and our hearts are open. He meets us in the place where the only thing we’re wrapped tightly around is Jesus himself. He meets us in the place where letting go of this world means receiving everything eternity holds – radical peace, reckless love, and relentless joy.
Prayer: God, it’s so hard to let go of what I can see for the promise of something that I can’t. I pray for courage to live with open hands and hearts, to reframe my expectations and my hopes as you define them. I pray you’ll be my center. Amen.