Today’s Gospel Passage: John 12: 20-36
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. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
Well, don’t we all…wish to see Jesus, I mean. What does that mean? What exactly did those Greeks want? I’m guessing that they didn’t want a leader. They had those. And the Greeks are usually known for being pretty well educated, so I think a claim that they wanted Jesus to teach them something is probably questionable at best. And I’m sure they had their own friends. What did they mean? My guess is that they wanted what all of us want. They wanted proof. They wanted it to make sense. They wanted something more.
Nothing has really changed. That’s what we all want. We want proof. We want it to make sense. We want something more. We wish to see Jesus. But we want it on our own terms. We want proof without doubt; we want sensibility without mystery; and we want something more but only if it doesn’t cost us anything. So, Jesus, where are you? Why can’t we see you?
This passage is hard. I preached it yesterday and probably made a B- at best. You see, the tide has turned. Jerusalem is there before us. The problem is that we’re supposed to believe without faltering in the cross. We look at that big gleaming cross in the front of the sanctuary. We see them on the doors to the church and on the sign outside. Good grief, we even hang them around our necks. But, contrary to what most of Christianity holds out there as “belief”, I don’t think we were meant to worship the cross. We were meant to worship God, to hunger and thirst in the deepest parts of our being to encounter God. Well, we can’t see God. If we could there’d be no need for faith. But we can see Jesus, the One who points the Way to God. But this Jesus is more than a leader. He is more than a teacher. Jesus is the One on the Cross. And at that moment, God does something incredible. God takes the worst of this world, the worst of humanity, the worst of proof or sensibility, at a cost that no one can fathom…and recreates it. In that moment on the Cross, God takes the worst of us and the best of God and reconciles them, redeeming us into God, pouring the Divine into humanity for all time.
But to see Jesus, we have to be there. Where were you….?, the song asks. There…there with Jesus…there with God…all of us together. But to be there, you have to leave your life that you’ve created behind. You have to leave your attachments, your wealth, your images of what and who you worship behind. There is not room for all of that on the Cross. (After all, God is REALLY big!) You have to surrender all that you are so that you can become all that you should be. But you have to do it standing at the Cross. And there…there He is…there’s Jesus.
Go in Peace as you Journey to the Cross,