I want to offer you an image, a tableaux, a freeze frame image if you like from The Devil Wears Prada. Andrea is standing in the road with Nate her boyfriend, or I should say, just about to be ex-boyfriend. She has to make a choice. She has been offered a chance to go to Paris fashion week as assistant to her Boss Miranda. Does she turn her back on her friends and boyfriend and go off to Paris fashion week with the boss from hell, a trip which could be the making of her career? She has finally found favour with her boss, she’s doing it right – at the expense of her relationships and friends. She has what she always craved, the approval of her boss and the magazine gliterati. Or does she turn away from the job and return to the company of her friends. She is torn. The job, the career, Paris could mean a great opportunity, it is a promotion. Nate, her boyfriend, is also in line for a new job, she could begin again with those she loves in a new city. Or she could choose to leave it all behind for the bright lights of Paris and whatever comes afterwards. Whichever way she goes their will be a confrontation. She is too far in to escape without it.
Jesus too at this point in our journey through Lent is uncertain and emotional in the events that unfold in his story. It is relatively uncharacteristic of John’s Gospel as he is prone to theologising about what is going on, however in this discourse the action is placed centre stage and the theology takes a back seat (which is refreshing). It portrays a beautiful image of family life and of the humanity of Jesus together with his spiritual awareness of what was going on. We are now well into the second half of Lent and moving quickly towards Holy Week and Easter. It is a pivotal reading as Jesus turns back from his travelling and it seems almost uncertain of what to do. Eventually he returns to Bethany.
Jesus, waiting before returning to Bethany. Andrea, deciding which way to turn. It is a freeze frame image, a point at which a decision has to be made. Which way would we turn? Would we run from confrontation because it is too difficult? Or give in to those who hold power over us and others? Or would we accept what others are saying and go along with it because we would not wish to cause trouble? Or Perhaps, would we stand up for ourselves and confront the powers and dominions of our day with the powerful love and compassion that Jesus showed?
Andrea turns towards the job, the trip to Paris, the lights, glamour and glitz that apparently everyone wants. She is unaware that this will lead her into even greater confrontation with her ‘boss from hell’ but perhaps even eventually to her epiphany, to salvation.
Similarly Jesus turns towards Jerusalem. So begins the walk to Jerusalem, gathering friends along the way. Jesus has deliberated and thought out this move. It is a deliberate attempt to show that the path to the cross which Jesus took was one which was premeditated. He deliberately put himself in harms way. Now was not the time to disappear up into the hills or off over a lake.
He sets out towards confrontation knowing that the path he is treading will likely end in his death, but ultimately will result in the overthrowing of the systems of power of his day which held people captive. Similarly, we must wait for Easter, or more correctly for Good Friday as the story builds towards Jesus overthrowing the powers that be. We don’t need to wait for a specific date or time, but we do need to recognise what it is that is dominating us. This, Jesus was certain of. Andrea in the Devil Wears Prada is unaware and she goes to her confrontation without knowing what to expect. But in order to get there, we must wait until Easter.