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5th Sunday of Lent

  • Jeremiah 31:31-34
  • Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
  • Hebrews 5:7-9
  • John 12:20-33

(Note: scroll over the reading reference to see full reading)


The God we believe in has been, and continues to be revealed to us slowly, so that we might better understand. In the Old Testament and in today’s reading from Jeremiah particularly, God is revealed as loving parent, guiding his people by the hand, showing them who is master, coaxing them to greater maturity and freedom. God is revealed as the restorer of his people. Despite the broken covenants, God continually offers a new covenant and continually extends the hand of forgiveness and friendship. God’s self presentation is that of an exclusive, passionate and intimate presence. God’s promise to the people is the coming of a Messiah.

The people had made the expected Messiah in their own image and likeness. They began to think of him as a great military or political leader, who would lead God’s people to glory by force and by might.

What the people got was a crucified Messiah, which for many of them meant no Messiah at all.

Christ saw his role as that of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. The purpose and will of Christ was that of God the Father, to whom he turns for encouragement.

The purpose of Christ, like that of the Father is to gather in his people and to lead them by the hand towards the land of promise. The ways of God and the example of Christ are in sharp contrast to, and in divine judgement on the ways of the world.

Encouraged and sustained by the Father, Jesus endures suffering, overcomes death and cancels the legacy of pride and disobedience by his perfect devotion to the Father’s will and his humble service to others.

He came as Messiah to all, calling all, Greeks as well as Jews, into perfect communion. He came to teach us, by example, of a new law, a new covenant, a new testament – good news. He invited us to take his teaching to heart, to make it our own, to internalise it and to live it rather than to see it as something from outside, something imposed. He invited us to accept and to choose and therefore to judge ourselves by choosing for Christ as Messiah and Son of God.

We are always called to renewal of the broken covenants of our lives, to forgiveness, and to knowledge of God, revealed most vividly in the face of the suffering Christ raised up on the cross. It remains for us to seek perfection through obedient suffering, to come to knowledge, and therefore to love of God, to seek purity of heart, to pray and to make entreaty, to serve and to follow. In short, we are called to imitate Christ.

The hour has come. The seed must die. God’s name must be glorified in Christ and in Christians.