"When they heard that He was there, they came as a crowd on account of what he had done in raising the dead" John 12:9.
There are some parts of Christianity we don't mind. Being neighborly, perhaps. "Family" at Christmas. Chocolate at Easter, perhaps. Oh, and days off.
The people who witnessed Jesus, however, found themselves dealing with a bigger issue - a man who clearly could work wonders - not just the odd healing, but feeding thousands. Imagine what it would be like, they thought, to have such a person in charge.
There's little doubt that such aims lay behind the crowd's roar as Jesus entered Jerusalem for His final week. Everyone, it seemed, was happy with such a person holding power... everyone, that is, except those who already were in charge.
The raising of Lazarus from death - the event which had brought about a polarizing conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders - wasn't the first. John shows us in his Gospel, on almost every page, that this conflict on the very nature and fiber of life with God had been at the core of the divide between them. Far from making Jesus King, on their terms, they wanted rid of Him as quickly as circumstances would allow - something which became much easier in that final week, as Jesus Himself made it clear, once again, that He wasn't here to satisfy our misguided notions of what counts.
Easter's prelude shows us we all want a "god" on our own terms, whether that be to make life easier for us, or to just allow us to continue to hold sway though our own conceits. It also shows us, that in spite of such peripheral and carnal approaches to what counts, God is going to take us much deeper - into those 'dark rooms' that we all fear and yet all must face.
Power will be seen here not through mastery or miracle, as the crowds or the elite perceived them, but in the astonishing deed of the Son of God, hung between heaven and earth, pouring out His life as a ransom for many. It is as He is so lifted, that the graves are split, and all the pain and agony known in time and space are met by the giving of redeeming, reconciling grace, outpoured from the Father through His only Son.
We all, naturally, choose to cling to what we believe defines us, exult that which we think will keep us secure, but that's the very 'religion' that Easter calls us to loose, because when it comes to 'the final curtain', there is only place, one person, that stands in that realm, who was dead, but is alive forever more, and He is calling us to find our rest in His wounds, His suffering, His healing, for there is none to be had anywhere else.
The 'glory' of Easter is a death that seeds something deeper and richer than we could naturally ever know.
We can be like those who saw, and rejected Him, or we can find grace in our time of need.
He is lifted up before us - what shall we do?