Homily for Holy Wednesday

Crucifixion Stained GlassText: John 13:31 “When he [Judas] had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”

The further we get into this Holy Week, the darker things seem to be getting. Both in our weather outside and the readings that have shaped our mornings together. Yesterday, we heard Christ warn that the Light would be in the world only a little while longer, that His disciples might guard themselves against the creeping darkness. In our reading today, Christ acknowledges that the darkness is beginning to draw near to him.

One of His own disciples has lifted the heel against him. Another, he knows, will call down curses upon himself, denying any connection he might have ever had to Christ. Jesus’ suffering and death are coming in to focus, now mere hours away. And as John lets on, Satan is close at hand, forcing the story to its crisis.

The devil enters in Judas, and events are set in to motion that cannot be stopped. He took the morsel of bread from Jesus, and went out, and it was night. Judas is in complete darkness. He has been overtaken.

Yet, back in the upper room, precisely at this low point of the story, at the point where darkness appears to have gained the upper hand, Jesus makes an astounding claim: “Now is the Son of Man glorified.” The betrayer has gone out and the soldiers, the chief priests, and the Pharisees will soon be on their way. Soon he will be unfairly tried, mocked, beaten, and spat upon. He will have nails driven through His hands and feet, a spear will pierce His side. And it is here, as this series of tragic events begins to unfurl, that He says “Now is the Son of Man glorified.”

It seems almost absurd, that as the darkness is swallowing up the Light, that here should be glory. But, Christ is letting His disciples, and us as well, in on the real story. This has been the plan all along. This suffering, this death, this being lifted up, this is what it has all been about.

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, back at the beginning of John’s gospel, Jesus tells His mother when she comes to him looking for him to do something about the dwindling supply of wine, “My hour has not yet come.” Jesus would perform many miraculous signs. He healed the sick. He made the lame to walk. He raised the dead from the grave. But all that He did, all that He said, pointed forward to the events of Holy Week, culminating with His death on the cursed tree.

And it is here on that tree that we find the only true glory that there is to be had in this world. We cannot ascend to God on our own. But Jesus comes and does the will of the Father, dies the death that our sins deserve, and it is in this that God is glorified in Him.

Jesus tells Peter “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow me afterward.” Only Jesus was able to be glorified in such a way. Only the Blood of the Lamb would take away the sins of the world. And yet, as those who have been washed by His blood, and called out of the darkness, into the light, we do follow after Him. Our whole lives become a daily death to sin and rising to live before God in Christ.

To Him who loved, who shed His blood for us, and died for us, to Him be the glory, both now and forever. Amen.