For Your Sake

John 12:20-26 and John 12:27-33

March 17, 2024

Fifth Sunday in Lent


Happy St Patrick’s Day!

St Patrick was more than just about green and clovers and beer.  In fact, for those that don’t know, Saint Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland, who was known as the “Apostle of Ireland.”

Saint Patrick was credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland and converted a pagan society in the process.  Because of this, he became known as the patron saint of Ireland, and upon his death on March 17th, a feast day was observed known as St Patrick’s Day.

Inscribed on St Patrick’s Breastplate that he wore were the words:

I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me.  God’s might to uphold me.  God’s wisdom to guide me.  God’s eye to see before me.  God’s ear to hear me.  God’s word to speak to me.  God’s hands to guard me.  God’s way to lie before me.  God’s shield to protect me.  God’s host to secure me – against snares of the devil, against temptations and vices, against inclinations of nature, against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd…Christ be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.  Christ on my right, Christ on my left.  Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise.  Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me.  Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me.  Christ in every eye who sees me.  Christ in every ear who hears me.  Salvation is of the Lord.  Salvation is of Christ.  May your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us.


It is very fitting that on this day, this patron saint’s day, we have this particular scripture in the Gospel of John where Jesus answers the crowd who hears a voice from above.  Some in the crowd believe the voice is thunder, and others believe it is an angel.

However, Jesus, being troubled by what is approaching in his death to come, is recognizing this is something he cannot be saved from going through because he knows that in this act he has come to glorify the name of the Father, God.

Jesus declares that he is going through what he must to glorify the name of God, and not for his sake, but for the people who are there before him, and for our sake, and the sake of the world.

Like Jesus preached the Gospel to the people in his lifetime, so did St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, so many years afterward.

When you read the inscription that was found on St Patrick’s breastplate, you can hear in the words his dedication to the Lord.  He begins with glorifying God, recognizing him as his protector, moves to being consumed with Christ, and ends with recognizing from whom his salvation comes.

He knows that God sent Jesus to bring his salvation.  He knows that Christ died for his sake, and he wants Christ to live within every ounce of his being, so that he can also glorify God to the people of Ireland.

In our scripture, the Greeks, these Gentiles, have come to see Jesus because they have heard of the miracles, and they have heard of the recent miracle performed where Jesus has raised Lazarus from the tomb.  Jesus knows as the word of his power spreads, the powers in charge, the corrupt leaders will feel threatened, and his time of death is drawing near.

The Pharisees see the crowds getting larger and larger, and more diverse, and even recognize in their speaking, ‘the world has gone after him.’

Jesus tells the people, when I am lifted up from the earth, God will draw all people to him.  Jesus is talking about being lifted up to the cross and lifted up after he has arisen from the tomb.  When he is lifted up in the resurrection, people will know the words he has spoken, the message he has brought of hope in his resurrection has been fulfilled, and they will believe, and God will be glorified.

In Jesus life and death, he brings hope to the people to recognize how God works in their lives.  It is for their sake, just as it is for our sake today.  God has been working in the lives of people since he created man, and God is still working in our lives today…do we recognize it?

I’m sure if I asked each person here to give an example of a time when God did something in your life, you could tell me a time when he healed you, a time when you felt his presence when you were feeling alone or low in spirit, or when he healed a loved one, or provided you with an unexpected answered prayer.

How far back would you have to go to remember that time or those times?

What if I asked you about what he did for you yesterday, or this morning?  What would you say to glorify his name?

Can we recognize God working in our lives each day we live?  I see him working in you when you come here on Sunday mornings.  I see him working in you when you greet each other in laughter or in concern.  I hear it in your voices when you sing.  I see the joy in your eyes.

Even before we enter this sanctuary, I see God working in the lives of those who get here early to attend Generations of Faith as we greet one another, share laughter and sing hymns to prepare for worship.  We pray for weekly concerns, and we come together to learn more about the word of God.  It’s during these times God is working in our lives.

I witness it when you take a moment to stop and sign a card to be mailed to someone who is at home that cannot physically be here, and you want to let them know you care.

I witness God working in your life in the way you prepare the sanctuary for worship services, and when you take the time to fix a problem with the building or grounds simply because I brought it to your attention or when you’ve seen something that needed to be done.

I witness your recognition of God’s presence in your life, when we pause to pray our confessions, and when we pause to pray for those who have asked us to pray for them.  We have faith that God will heal our bodies and souls because we believe God is working within us each minute of our lives.

As we continue our walk in the wilderness with Jesus with the day drawing nigh when we will celebrate the feast of the resurrection of Christ, let us consider along our walk, are we continuing to grow spiritually to recognize God’s presence so that we can continue to glorify his name?  Are we walking in faith of what God is calling us to be and do as individuals, as a congregation, and as a community?

Recognize with joy the things you do to glorify God already, and know that you are loved by God.

God loved us from creation, and still loves us through Jesus.  It is for our sake we hear his voice whether as the loud sound of thunder or as the whisper of an angel.

For our sake, God is a constant presence in our lives, and when you are called by God for a task, don’t be afraid to claim it.  It may be the beginning of your best journey in the wilderness.  To God be the glory!


Fulfilling God, as we come this day recognizing that Jesus was sent for our sake, so that we might have salvation, and as we recognize this feast day of a great patron saint, hear these words written by the Celtics so long ago:  May your days be many, and your troubles be few.  May all God’s blessing descend upon you.  May peace be within you, may your heart be strong.  May you find what you’re seeking wherever you roam…….Lord we pause to consider these words, and to pray for all those who have asked for our prayers…………………………………………………


Lord we come to you as troubled people in our souls, the same as Jesus, knowing that the world around us struggles between good and evil, just as Adam and Eve struggled in the very beginning of their lives in the peaceful garden you created for them.  God of all blessings, we come to you recognizing that whether we hear you as a powerful voice of thunder, or the whisper of an angel, you are with us in every moment of every day, and we are grateful.  Healing Lord, in the chaos of each day, we pray for peace as we grasp for understanding as we deal with and process the trials and troubles of our earthly bodies, and the chaos of the world.  We pray for those consumed by the world, rather than being consumed by the love of Jesus, may they sense a call toward the light of love and away from the darkness of greed and power.  Hear our prayers as we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


All the Blessings of Heaven are yours,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

To God be the glory!



Cover art by Unsplash+, used with subscription.