Fifth Sunday In Lent

John 12:20-33 (NRSV) 
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. "Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say--' Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
Interesting Gospel passage here. Not one I have heard a lot of preaching on!

From what I have learned over the years, the Jewish faith was at times adopted by non-Jews. And so it would appear that some of the Greeks mentioned here were probably in Jerusalem because they were converts. They heard about Jesus and wanted to meet him. Philip is a Greek name and so they figured he would a disciple they could approach to facilitate an introduction. Philip goes to Andrew (another Greek name), the brother of Simon Peter, who actually first brought Simon Peter to Jesus back in John 1. And together, Andrew and Philip made the connection between these curious Greeks and Jesus. So point number one is to ask ourselves how ready are we to introduce people to Jesus? Do people see us as people whom they could ask to meet Jesus!

Part II would be what Jesus told them. And thus, by extension, what do we tell people about Jesus?

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 

There is no getting around the centrality of the Cross. Jesus calls the painful and shameful Cross as the time for the Son of Man to be glorified! It is only in his dying that life for us can be brought forth.

Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. 

Then Jesus moves onto the cost of discipleship. Okay, if you want the eternal living being offered by Jesus, then one must surrender control. Autonomy, self-righteousness, building my own empire, and doing it my way has to end. One must take up a life of service to God and others and this the Father will honor.

"Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say--' Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name."

Interesting piece here from Jesus. Why does Jesus give us this window into his soul? Perhaps, it is a demonstration of what self-sacrifice looks like. The way of the Cross is not an easy one but that is not the deciding factor for Jesus obedience. The glory of the Father is his concern.

The Father confirmed what Jesus is saying: Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." 

And Jesus finished by restating what he said: "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

Jesus offered a lot of good ethnical teaching and Christians and non-Christians alike think well of that part. But if we are to take the Gospel's seriously, we also need to deal with the significance of his willingness to go to the Cross. The Gospel message is more than just ethical teaching. It is also a claim that Jesus dying on a Cross and Resurrecting actually and significantly changed the human condition!

And so as we work through Lent toward Easter, we need to look at Jesus teachings and the significance of the Cross!


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