Meditation for the Saturday after Ash Wednesday
John 17:20-26, NIV
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. While the stark reality spoken at the imposition of the ashes echoes in our minds, our Master prays that we would receive his glory. Who does Jesus think he’s fooling? He of anyone should know how our best intentions too often disintegrate in the fires of our jealously, faithlessness, and obdurate wandering after false gods: Wednesday’s ashes are the remains of Palm Sunday’s jubilation. But Jesus knows that the glory of God is greater than our failures. In biblical usage, the word “glory” denotes the visible presence of Yahweh in the midst of his people. This is why John speaks so often of Jesus “glorifying” the Father by his signs: in them, Jesus revealed the true character of Yahweh.
Jesus says that he has glorified the Father, and given that glory to his disciples and those who would follow. That glory will bring unity, and through it, the world will see the Father’s love. How can we walk in this truth? Jesus glorified the Father by healing and embracing the broken and outcast. He spoke love and truth into shame and disorder. He emptied himself of pride and took the place of a servant, washing the feet of his friends as well as his betrayer. He died bearing our sin and disorder, looking to God to make it right.
If unity is a matter of glorifying the Father and the Son through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we will not achieve it by fighting to preserve or save our religious institutions. It will be a gift that comes from glorifying our Master. So let’s grab a basin and towel and get to work.