27"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say - 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." 30Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?" 35Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light." After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
I want to begin this morning's devotional with a quote from an introduction of a book entitled, Four Views on Christianity and Philosophy:
While the Greeks started a wisdom movement, roughly characterized in terms of the pursuit of happiness (eudaimonia) via intellectual and moral virtue, the movement Jesus and his followers inaugurated appears to be substantially different. From the first public words of his ministry (Matt 4: 17) to his last (Acts 1: 8), Jesus was concerned with the progress of the gospel— the good news that the kingdom of God was at hand. The coming of Jesus alerts us that something new is taking place in human history. The world is not the way it’s supposed to be— it is cracked, violated, and fallen— yet God in love sent his Son to die on a cross to bring redemption to humanity and ultimately to restore all creation. A new power was available that offered people spiritual, moral, and even bodily redemption by God. It could be said that Jesus started a shalom movement, roughly characterized in terms of God’s renewal of sinful humanity through faith in Jesus, and ultimately— when the kingdom of God is consummated— a full restoration of the world to its original state of goodness, delight, and flourishing.
The contrast between what the Greek philosophical tradition offered (a wisdom movement) versus what Jesus offered (a shalom movement) brings to light with great clarity the hope that's found in Christ and in the Gospel. The hope that's offered in philosophy, though appearing large (wisdom and happiness), is, in comparison to Christianity, quite limited. Gaining wisdom is good and through wisdom finding happiness is good and growing in the intellectual and moral virtues aligned with wisdom and happiness is good. But still, philosophy does not address what's really ailing human life and the world. It has no lasting answer to the problem of a world that's "cracked, violated and fallen." More than wisdom is required to fix this.
Indeed, a new power is necessary. Only the power of another kind can defeat the underlying power behind the world's cracked-violated-fallenness. This new power cannot come from "within" a broken system. This power must be transcendent, meaning the power must come from the beyond of normal activities and happenings of this world.
In Christ, this new power is finally available to bring about the lasting change that humans yearn for. And this new power is revealed, actually manifested, in the death and resurrection of Christ. This new power was literally poured out through the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. It is Jesus "lifted up" that will be the sign of the new power about to break in into the world. Christ's "lifted up from the earth" combines two notions: that Jesus will be physically raised up on the cross and that Jesus will be gloriously exalted in his ascension. This combination will be a sure sign that the powers of death and the devil have been overcome. This combination will also be the focal point for "all people" drawn to the Son of God and the good news that's entailed in the cross and resurrection of Christ. The hope of humanity itself is revealed, in other words, when Jesus is "lifted up"!
Let's pray: Father God, we thank you for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We thank you for the good news of a new power that overcame the powers of death and the devil. We thank you that this power is available through the Spirit in Christ. May we root ourselves in the good news of Jesus by rooting ourselves in heart and mind in Christ. May our rootedness in Jesus provide the necessary security and confidence to overcome every challenge that may come our way, even today. In Jesus' name, amen.