I hope you are well and not losing heart, but continuing to care and support one another.
The gospel lectionary reading this Sunday is John 12: 20 -33. I thought we could begin by reflecting on the first six verses. Some Greeks who were among those who went up to worship at the festival were curious to get to know Jesus better. We have the scene where a certain disciple (It would seem that Philip had a connection and was deemed approachable by the Greeks) was approached with a request to be introduced to Jesus.
I am interested in the response of Jesus to the request that some people were keen to see him. It would appear that the answer Jesus gives seems peculiar to say the least. His reply doesn’t begin with pleasantries and a gentle approach. Jesus lays on the line the reality on how he wishes to be seen.
John 12: 20 -33.
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up[a] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
Jesus emphasised that the Son of Man is soon to be glorified. I don’t think the inquisitors were expecting the reply he gave! Jesus suggests that the way he was about to be glorified followed no earthly pattern or expectation. In verses 23 to 26 Jesus highlights three aspects how of his glory would be achieved in comparison with the earthly way.
- Jesus would achieve glory by Death, not by Domination.
- Christian Glory is shown by Service, not Selfishness.
- True glory is demonstrated by Poverty, not Possessions.
In the verses that follow there is a form of explanation, we can see that Jesus shares that bringing glory to God involves.
- Anguish (he knew it was going to be costly)
- Achievement (It was not going to Jesus himself but God the father who would be glorified)
- Appeal (Father glorify your name!)
- Approval (God the Father acknowledges and Jesus points out ‘The voice was for your benefit, not mine’)
I wonder how the Greeks responded; it doesn’t seem to be the way to recruit followers. One thing we can say is that the inquisitive people were not being given the ‘softly, softly’ approach. Jesus says that if we really are serious about following him we must be prepared to glorify God by putting to death any thoughts of domineering authority, we need to be prepared to serve others before our own consideration, and we should live contently and not seek wealth.
Reading this passage of Scripture has forced me to re-evaluate my relationship with my Heavenly Father, but I suppose that is the purpose of the Lent season after all.
I share something I read by Sally Nelson which has challenged and excited me:
‘Through the stories of Scripture, God calls to this way of life, culminating in the Easter story. We can be in no doubt what really matters when we read of Jesus’ sacrificial love and allow it to touch and shape our life. If we follow Christ, then every day is a day to do what really matters. For the King is surely coming and it matters that we get ready. Let us embrace this amazing creation; care for it and its creatures; live generously; and declare God’s glory’.
I believe it our Christian duty, and joy, to embrace, care, live generously, and declare God’s glory. What do you think?