Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God John 12:42-43
Jesus is making the final push. He’s trying to explain that he must die; trying to get people to see that he’s doing it for us. And they just aren’t getting it, so they question and challenge. Has anyone ever had to do so much convincing just to save those who were dying? Father and Son go so far as to speak audibly to one another. Miracles are performed and patient explanations given by Jesus and still most do not believe.
But some do believe. Not many, not most, but some. And John’s gospel tells us that they kept it quiet. They didn’t tell anyone for fear of rejection. For fear of exclusion. For fear of those in power. And they kept it quiet for love. For love of human approval. For love of acceptance. For love of what’s secondary and less than.
And still Jesus insists that He must die for us. Still he trudges towards the cross. Even while we seek praise from people over the praise of God.
This is the common. This is the theme. From a Betrayer who organizes the arrest to disciples who flee. From crowds who praise to crowds who shout hate. From Pharisees who plot to those of us who look back today and judge their waywardness. In all of them and all of us, in the week that leads to the cross and the years that have followed since, this is the common: we love praise from each other more than praise from God. We crave approval and acceptance from the created and think little about the approval and acceptance of our Creator.
Thomas Merton writes, “Instead of worshipping God through his creation we are always trying to worship ourselves by means of creatures.”
Worshipping ourselves. That puts it in a brutally blunt light. God offers life, and acceptance, love and eternity—and he offers it for free. But we will not worship him because we love to worship ourselves. We love the feeling of validation from other created beings and we love their stamp of approval on our activities and ideas. We love our self. That’s really what it comes down to. We love “us” more than anything else.
So with a soul deeply troubled and a people who doubt him, still he moves to the cross. To save those who love themselves more than they love the One who created them—the One who will save them. Still he goes on.
The cross is coming. This is Wednesday—it will be here Friday. It will bring death to our Savior. And it will bring death to our self as well. It’s the only way.
And three days later he will rise; and our new self will rise with him.