Tuesday: Where I Am

Jesus says something very important in our gospel lesson today. He says, “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”

We’d like to think of ourselves as servants of Jesus.

Well, we’ve just been given a very simple test of whether we are in fact servants of Jesus.

We ask where he is, and then we evaluate whether we are there also.

This seems like a simple test at first.

Where is Jesus right now? Well, he’s everywhere and nowhere, at the right hand of God the Father and present in the Eucharist and living in our hearts.

Jesus is in a lot of places.

So in that sense, it’s not a very helpful test. But let’s ask where Jesus is just in this gospel lesson and see where we end up.

We begin with the Greeks at the festival.

They have clearly heard of Jesus and they approach Philip saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

Well, let’s start there. Is anyone approaching us to ask to see Jesus?

Are we living in such a way that people, strangers, know that they could approach us to ask about Jesus?

If someone has heard something interesting about Jesus, would they know that we are someone who could tell them more, show them more?

That’s a tough question, because the honest answer might be, “No.”

But rather than despairing, that becomes a simple charge and inspiration to ask further questions, “How could I live in such a way that people, strangers, would know that I could show them the way to Jesus?”

That’s a question that could drive an entire spiritual life.

“Where I am, there will my servant be also,” Jesus says.

As our gospel continues, Jesus goes somewhere else.

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say– `Father, save me from this hour’?”

Jesus goes to a place of fear.

Jesus goes to a place of doubt.

Jesus goes to a place of potentially questioning the will of God.

That’s a very scary place, a painful place.

Are we willing to go there with him?

These two short sentences from Jesus reveal a world of spiritual wrestling within his soul.

Sometimes people think that doubt is the opposite of faith, that we should apologize for our doubt, or worry that we’re angering or disappointing God by being angry or disappointed in God.

Jesus goes to that place, and he says, “Where I am, there will my servant be also.”

So we should go to that place.

We should not shy away from internal spiritual conflict, from questioning what we are discerning as the will of God, from being honest about when we feel weak and sad and afraid and just plain don’t want to do the right thing.

In fact, those moments of darkness and doubt may actually be very important.

Listen to what Jesus says next: “No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

This process of wrestling with the difficult things we know we are called to do is not some aberration or failure.

It is key to the working out of God’s will in the world.

Entering into it fully like Jesus does, with Jesus because that’s where he is, actually glorifies God, as Jesus says.

“Where I am, there my servant will be also.”

Where does Jesus go next? “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.”

Most of the time we think of this statement in terms of cosmic good and evil, of God versus Satan in some kind of apocalyptic showdown.

Well, that is true, but in our own lives it is going to manifest in much smaller ways.

We can think of “this world” as Jesus calls it not as the created Earth or even what we traditionally think of as worldly concerns, like pop culture or money or materialism.

Those things are actually symptoms of a much deeper divide, which is between our true self, which is hidden with Christ in God, and our false self, which is what drives us to greed and the lust for power and all the things that make up what we call “the world.”

Where does Jesus go here?

“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.”

So if we want to be with Jesus, if we want to be called his servants, we must judge the forces of “the world” in our own minds and hearts and actions with clarity and repentance.

And not later, now, as Jesus says.

Jesus goes to a place of honest confrontation with sin and corruption and names it as powerless and bankrupt.

So must we do within ourselves and within our systems if we wish to be found where he is, to be found as his servants.

“Where I am, there will my servant be also.” Where does Jesus go next?

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

That’s a difficult place to go.

I really only want to draw some people to myself.

It’s a fairly short list. My friends and family, the members of my churches, a few celebrities or politicians I like, and anyone who hasn’t actively offended me. I draw those people to myself.

Well, that’s not going to cut it, not if I wish to be found among the servants of Jesus.

“I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

All people. Not some people.

Not saved people. Not Christians. Not Episcopalians.

Not people who have repented. Not people who have been baptized or had a born-again experience or know they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

All people.

“I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

No exceptions.

This is the place where Jesus goes, and if we wish to be named among his servants, we must go there with him.

And don’t forget how Jesus draws all people to himself. “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

What does he mean by “lifted up from the earth”?

He’s talking about the crucifixion.

He’s talking about being hoisted into the air on a Cross.

He draws all people to himself by taking on their suffering, by going into the darkness that threatens to swallow us and taking it into himself to be transformed.

So that is where we must go with him, if we wish to be found as his servants.

He already told us once in this passage. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

That’s the truth we’re struggling so hard to come to terms with during this Holy Week.

That’s why we’re at church every day this week, because we need that much fellowship together to try and face the truth that this road we’re on is headed straight for Calvary.

“Where I am, there my servant will be also.” It’s still a few days off, but it is coming closer every hour.

And so we have a choice.

“Where I am, there my servant will be also.”

In a few short days, where Jesus will be is Calvary. Will we be there with him?

Will our hope to be named among his servants be strong enough to get us through the pain of seeing him suffer and die for us?

I believe it will.

Because what Jesus has said will not just be true on Good Friday.

It will also be true on Easter Sunday.

“Where I am, there my servant will be also.”

And where is Jesus that day?

He is raised from the dead, and we, his servants, will be there with him.

 

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