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Now my soul is troubled, and what should I say? Father save me from this hour?”  John 12:27

Okay I can virtually see the eyes rolling and hear the heavy sighs as some readers say:  Really Doug?  Most of the country is in the grips of damp, cloudy, cold, rain, sleet or snow filled skies.  The news these days is not all that good.  And while yes it is the Christmas Season, even that can bring about anxiety and a certain melancholy.  So can’t you write something a little more upbeat than my Savior felt desperate too?  Is this some misery loves company post?  So if you’re thinking that or haven’t already clicked off to somewhere else, hang in there with me because I believe there is some powerfully uplifting, even a joyful promise in this.

So here we go.  When we think about Jesus being anxious or having feelings of desperation, we often picture His praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, His trial before Pilate or His time on the cross.  And of course those would be correct instances to think that.  For in the Garden, Jesus knew that His arrest was to happen in a few short minutes.  Yet the referenced quote from John was not from the time frame of the Garden, it was right after Jesus had triumphantly entered Jerusalem.  His disciples were still basking in the adulation of the entry.  Greeks were coming up to Philip almost begging to be introduced to Jesus.  The Pharisees and Jewish leaders were the one’s in despair thinking that the whole world had left them and was now following Jesus.

Jesus knew better.  Although the disciples did not recollect it at the time, Jesus had told them already that this trip to Jerusalem would end in His death.  Jesus seemed to always know what the end was going to be from the beginning.  And with a steadfast determination that could only come from the One True Son of God, Jesus never wavered from His Father’s Plan to carryout our Salvation.  Yet that doesn’t mean that Jesus skipped happily forward to meet His impending demise.  There was a part of Jesus who wanted out; even asked to get out, if there be anyway possible.  Thanks be to His strength; to the God come down, that He was able to summon the courage to go through with it.

Okay you say, I’m getting the fact that Jesus was in despair, but not sure about the uplifting part about it.  Here’s the thing, the wonderfully amazing thing; Jesus knew desperation..FOR US!   Jesus’ feeling of desperation, like his feelings of hunger, pain and sorrow were not just some academic exercise by a curious but unfeeling God.  No, Jesus subjected Himself to human frailties out of love for you and me.  The world would see it as a weakness but the truth is it takes unbelievable strength to endure the physical and emotional traumas that this world inflicts upon us willingly.  For us and our salvation God came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ.  Why?  As it says in Hebrews, For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are attempted.  And again in Hebrews:  “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses….”  And lest we think that Jesus was some rogue deity sneaking down to help us poor humans out; this was His Father’s plan to bring us back into relationship with Him.

Having experienced as we have experienced yet without succumbing to sin, Jesus makes these promises to us that we know He has the power to keep:  He will give us rest, He has come that we might have life and have it abundantly, peace he will give us, not as the world gives but true peace.  We can have such confidence in those promises because they come from One who knew what it was to be weary; that was the creator of life knowing how abundant it can be, knew what strife and desperation are so that He knows what true peace is.  He beckons us to be in Him so that He can be in you and me, no matter what the circumstances.  So what do we get from that?  We get the promise from Him who has witnessed all first hand.

In response to every heartbreak, every woe, every downtrodden circumstance we may be in; Jesus Christ looks us straight in the eye and speaks to our heart:  That in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.  To overcome something you first must have experienced it.  Jesus Christ knows our desperation.  When we are in relationship with Him, we can experience our own triumphant victory over our desperation through Him.  In Jesus Christ, the victorious love company too.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we are made humble and awestruck at the length and breadth of Your Love for Us.  That You would Send You Only Son, Jesus Christ, to live as a human, knowing our trials and tribulations while never succumbing to them.  That being perfect, He would still choose to suffer the sinners death thus sparing us the judgement that is rightfully ours.  Thank you Dear Jesus Christ, that you, having experienced our pain reach down to shower us with Your Love to lift us up above our desperation to share in Your victory.  May it be that this world never blinds us to the promise that is in You, Dear Jesus and that our lives would be lived to praise Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in Your Name Jesus Christ.  Amen

“My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready”  John 7:6

“Father the hour has come.  Glorify Your Son, the Your Son also may Glorify You.”  John 17:1

I tell you truthfully that it is a coincidence that I write this on the weekend that we, in the United States, change our clocks back an hour.  Also this is not about Eastern Time versus Mountain Time or for my current and former military friends Zulu Time.  It is not about increments of time from eons down to microseconds.  I know what you’re thinking:  “If is not about those things then you’ve got exactly two seconds to tell me what the heck it really is about!”

Now, now all in good time (okay enough of that).  Doesn’t this seem to be more about how we utilize our time; what we have been given our time for, then some arbitrary spacing of two hands on a dial?  In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ first miracle starts with Jesus replying to his mother: ” My hour has not yet come”  (John 2:4).  It seems to be more about a sure knowledge of His mission and the progression along that way.  When I was in the military, our operations would revolve around the concept of “H” hour.  That was the hour that a given operation was going to begin.  You planned and trained up to H-hour and after that was all about execution.  For another example you look at space launches.  There is a clock that counts backward (countdown)  “T-minus” until the clock runs to zero and then the event happens (FYI according to  the t stands for “test).  Thus, Jesus knew He was on a mission.  That mission was going to end in Jerusalem with Jesus Christ dying on the cross and then being raised from the dead.  He was going to become and is now King of kings.  Nothing was going to rush that.  Some tried to make Him an earthly king early, He would have none of it.  Some tried to kill Him by stoning Him or throwing Him off a cliff.  He walked right through the midst of them; it was not His time.

There seems another aspect that we can learn as well.  That is patience.  Jesus knew all that He was to go through, from talking to the woman at the well, to feeding thousands and even kneeling and pleading in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He was willing to wait.  Jesus Christ knew the Glory that awaited Him in heaven but He was willing to allow God’s plan to work fully through Him before He made His triumphant return.

Jesus says:  “your time is always ready.”  The contrast between His time, being on a mission, making a huge impact, allowing and waiting on  God to use you to make an amazing difference and the worldly time, chasing after riches, looking only to ourselves, seeking after only our own glory, bouncing from one cheap thrill to another with no true goal in sight is quite stark indeed.

Christ is eternal yet He also knows time.  He calls out to us to follow His example and to use our time wisely.  He extols us to understand that time is in God’s hands and God has a desire of the way that we should be using our hours.  Note when Jesus Christ’s time had come, He called upon the Father to Glorify Him; why?  So that Jesus would in turn Glorify His Father.  Can there be a more glorious mission or a better use of our time than to seek to Glorify God’s Name in and through our lives?  The question for us is how are we spending out time.  We must me careful how we answer, for the clock is ticking.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father we give thanks that You have loved us enough to provide for us, time for life.  We sincerely ask Dear Father that You would pour Out Your Spirit upon us, testifying that You have a mission for each us.  Let it be that we will use our time in carrying out that mission each day.  That we will be patient knowing that Your timing is perfect.  And that the way that we use our time may be seen by others as time spent in Your Holy Service to Glorify Your Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

“Two hundred denarii would not be enough buy enough bread for each of them to get a little”  John 6:7

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish but what are they for so many?  John 6:9

It is a dilemma that has potentially impacted anyone who has been responsible for a gathering or function.  You look out at those who are attending and you watch more and more pour in and you come to realize:  I don’t have enough!  You look around in a panic.  You start to scramble.  You first start asking yourself:  What are my resources.  You reach back and pull out your wallet or check in your petty cash;  Nope, don’t have near enough there, you find.  You start looking around at your other resources.  What do I have on hand that I might be able to stretch to satisfy all these people?  I can only stretch finger sandwiches so far and the punch will soon become water if I weaken it anymore.  Is a peanut per person going to be acceptable?

Jesus is not a showman or the world’s best marketer.  If He had been, He would have made grandiose announcements about His miraculous providing of food.  If His fame and His Glory was His motivation, He would make sure that everyone in the crowd completely knew how the baskets were coming to them full.  Jesus did none of that.

However, Jesus was and is a great teacher.  His goal is that we understand what mercy, power, and capabilities come from following Him and putting our complete faith and trust in Him.  So when 5000 people follow Him out to a secluded area where there is no readily available food and Jesus knows they will need to eat, He first turns to his disciples.  Jesus wants to first turn to the human resources at hand.  So He initially asks Phillip how much it would cost to buy bread for such a crowd.  By Phillip’s response it is clear that the disciples don’t have two hundred denarii (about a half a years wages) readily available to use.  What other resources are available?  Andrew another of the disciples stumbles upon a boy with some small loaves of bread and two measly fish.  Yet Andrew dismisses the boy’s resources out of hand as not being enough.  The disciples are stymied.  That is exactly where Jesus needs them to understand that they are.  There is no earthly way for the disciples to fulfill the need that is gathered right in front of them.

So Jesus takes over.  It is time to teach.  He knows what must come first, giving thanks to His Heavenly Father for the bounty of the bread and the fish.  Then after having the people sit down He distributes the bread and the fish.  Using a little boy’s meager resources, Jesus just doesn’t give people a morsel or small bite to eat.  No each person there ate until they were satisfied.  And just to show the length of Jesus’s power, there was food left over.

Like the disciples, we are facing challenges in our lives.  We look out and see a need or many needs, we are faced with obstacles and seemingly insurmountable odds at fulfilling those needs.  We want to help, to make a difference and the world answers us, you don’t have the resources.  You are not rich enough, or powerful enough.  What you have is too meager to even attempt to try.  So don’t even attempt.  Turn your back.  Give up.

Jesus Christ looks at us.  “Do you, on your own have enough money?” He asks.  “No” we answer.  “Well do you have enough other resources?”  Christ asks.  We look at what pitifully little we have and reply:  “All I have is me and these few things.”  Perhaps, in frustration and hurt at our failure we start to turn and walk away.  Jesus Christ lovingly stops us and responds:  “Dear loved one, you have far more than you could ever need.  For you have Me.  Believe in Me and watch what I can make out of what you have!”

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this is about much more than food.  It is the humbling realization that on our own we are incapable of doing all that we need and want to get done.  No matter how good our intentions, apart from Jesus Christ, we will always come up short.  But notice this, Jesus charged not one of those 5000 for the meal that they had.  Jesus Christ did not require any payment from the disciples for them to gain the understanding of what happened.  Jesus Christ gave and gives freely today; going so far as to freely give His life for us, that we may have access to Our Heavenly Father.  Whatever great earthly treasures we have will never be enough apart from Christ.  But come to Christ, especially if you have very little and experience the amazing feats you through Him will achieve.

Our Most Gracious and Heavenly Father, we confess that far too often we try to achieve on our own.  From out earthly judgements, Merciful Father, we believe we must wait until we are rich enough, educated or experienced enough, strong enough or old enough before we attempt things. With far too great a frequency, we rely on ourselves.  But through Your Son Jesus Christ, You have taught us differently Dear Father.  You have taught us to come to You first, to rely on You, to understand that what comes from and through You will always be greater than what we can do on our own.  So help us Dear Father, to come to You first.  That faithfully calling upon You in the Name Of Your Precious Son Jesus Christ, we can achieve momentous things bringing light to this dark world.  Help us to have pure motives in that what we strive to achieve is not to the glory of our own names but will bring Glory and Honor to You Dear Father.  In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen.

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