Tuesday of the Fifth Week in Lent
(Numbers 21:4-9; John 8:21-30)
Emily Dickinson is certainly one of America’s greatest poets. Her story is remarkable since during her lifetime less than one percent of her poems were published, and these often edited to fit nineteenth century sensibilities. Only after her death was her genius recognized. It is something like Jesus saying in the gospel today that only when he is lifted up to die, the people will finally recognize who he is.
Jesus has been in debate with the Pharisees. He has told them that he comes from the Father. But they cannot understand what he means because they have chosen to live in darkness. Jesus now tells them that when they lift him up (he means on the cross), they will realize that he is from God. In John’s account of the Passion, this prophecy is realized when a declaration is put on the cross that he is the “king of the Jews.” It is written in multiple languages so that the whole world may understand. The title admittedly has less impact today than in Jerusalem around 33 A.D. Then it means that he is God’s favored son, if not God himself.
We recognize Jesus as Lord, but at times we want to step out of the light and into the darkness. Instead of following Jesus, we desire pleasure, prestige, or power. In any case, it would be a poor choice since it means surrendering the glory of Jesus’ second lifting up. We would be trading away our resurrection from the dead.