Reflections for the Week of Sunday March 18, 2018 Fifth in Lent

Gospel: John 12.20-33 tells of Jesus going to Jerusalem to attend the Passover festival. He knew He was going there to die in accordance with the Scriptures. Just before He was arrested some Greeks asked to see Him indicating that the Gentiles were ready to come to faith in Jesus and replace the Israel of Caiaphas, the corrupt High Priest, and the idolatrous Temple. Jesus had come to Jerusalem from Galilee with His disciples, the remnant of faithful Israelites, to accomplish the mission for which He had come–to die so that sin could be condemned in His flesh on the cross and His people could be set free from the condemnation and the curse of the law.

Passover was the time when people would be set free from the bondage of sin and death by the sacrificial death of Jesus the Messiah who was the Paschal Lamb. The one true God had made a covenant with Abraham that his family would be the means by which believers would be declared righteous–justified–by grace through faith. It would include all those who turned to Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, as Savior and Lord, both Jews and Gentiles. The people had been dead in their sins and trespasses, and in exile under the pagan domination of Rome, but now God had returned as Jesus of Nazareth to restore them as He had promised just as He had done through Moses in Egypt. Sin had reached a climax in Israel as the Messiah confronted Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate and their vaunted legal systems which pronounced Jesus guilty when they knew He was innocent. On the cross in Jesus’ flesh sin was condemned (Rm 8.3) so that those ‘in the Messiah’ had their sins remitted and  were pronounced members of Jesus’ covenant family. Following the new Passover, as in Egypt, the Messiah’s people are to be led on an Exodus by the Holy Spirit as they advance toward the renewed heaven and earth of Revelation 21,22.

The present life of believing Christians is now understood as the kingdom of God ruled by the Messiah devoted to restoring justice and peace through the Messiah’s people. Non-believers in the Messiah are not participating in this kingdom. The ‘ruler of this world’, the satan, has been defeated and his time is growing short. The corrupt Temple has been destroyed by the Roman armies and the new Temple has been raised on the third day in the body of Jesus and His people, the church, where the Spirit dwells in His people that have spread over the whole world. His people are to extend the kingdom to unbelievers as a royal priesthood reflecting the King into the world and the praises of the world back to the King. Jesus’ people are filled with the Spirit and walk in the Spirit so that they manifest the love, joy, peace, humility, assurance, and forgiveness of their Lord. This kind of life fulfills the Torah because the Messiah is the end (goal, climax) of the law (Rm 10.4).

Memory Verse: Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain (Jn 12.24).

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