A day or so later Jesus is with his disciples. John actually picks up this part of the story in his retelling of the gospel. In John chapter 12 Jesus tells his disciples:
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. “I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be…”John 12:23-25
Jesus knew what many of us sometimes forget but remember each Holy Week: the path to resurrection is always preceded by a kind of death.
Many of us want new life, a new start, a new beginning; resurrection. But if we are to experience resurrection we must be willing to embrace a kind of death.
The dying Jesus talks about can be understood as a kind of letting-go. It is a letting-go of the things in which we have placed too much confidence or allowed to hold our hope.
Right now we have all been pushed into a kind of letting-go. We are letting go of a life we have known so we can hold on to life. We are letting go of face-to-face connections, of eye contact, of hugs from friends or family members we do not live with us, of nights out or meals at our favorite restaurants. We are letting go of gathering together in person to praise God and share in the Table. Over the past weeks we have even heard stories of loved ones letting go of family members as they are carried away to a private room, some for the last time.
We know about letting-go maybe now more than ever. We see signs of it all around us. But there are signs of letting-go that are life-giving and, I think, look a lot like the kind of letting-go Christ calls us to embrace.
It’s the nurses, doctors, and medical staff, the mental health professionals and hosts of other medical professionals letting-go of their own well-being to tend to the well-being of others. And it’s the scenes of these same people standing on the roof tops of hospitals with hands held high or heads bowed for to pray for their patients and for their city.
It’s the scientists and medicine makers, and leaders of other agencies letting-go of time with their families in exchange for long hours as they work hard to understand this virus that has arrested us and find an antidote.
It’s the cleaning crews in medical facilities, the grocery store workers, postal workers, bus drivers, truck drivers and delivery persons, it’s the social services case workers and non-profit leaders letting-go of their own needs to make sure our needs are met.
It’s the teachers and educators letting-go of their traditional lesson planning to find new ways to educate children from one side of a screen while still taking time to parade through neighborhoods to cheer on their students or call and check in with parents to see how every one is doing.
It’s the police and firefighters, paramedics, and caregivers of every kind letting-go of their own safety, and even the safety of our their families, so we can be safe.
It is in letting-go that we pick up what Jesus offers. It is in letting-go that we take hold of what gives life, purpose, and meaning. It is in letting-go of the things in which we have placed our confidence that we can place our confidence in Jesus as King.