I hope and pray this letter finds you safe and well. This week we continue in John’s gospel looking at an event in which Jesus predicts His own death in John 12: 20 – 33. What is striking is at the start of the passage John mentions that there were some Greeks who went to worship at Jerusalem for the festival of Passover. Clearly this is something out of the norm and hence the special mention. How do we welcome people who we do not normally expect to come and join us at church? Do we treat people differently if they are different to us? Are we a welcoming church who always give people a warm welcome? I would like to think so because if we are not any of those things then surely, we are not operating as we should be as God’s people.
Now some of the Greeks wanted to see Jesus, perhaps they had heard reports about Him and were curious, so they approached one of the disciples, Philip, who in turn approached Andrew. Philip and Andrew then go to see Jesus. This if you remember, almost mirrors the way the disciples are introduced to Jesus at the start of John’s gospel. It has been argued that this was the way of networking in the ancient world, you interacted based on already established relationships. The Greeks would have approached Philip because there was already some established link. There is also another interesting thing to note here, the Greeks are curious to meet Jesus. Do we find people that come to us asking about Jesus? Do our friends, neighbours, work colleagues even know we are followers of Jesus? They ought to know so that if they do have questions or want to talk about Jesus they know where to come.
Jesus then gives an answer, we do not know whether he is answering the Greeks who have asked to see Him, just the disciples or a wider group of people at this point, whoever is the audience the content of His words is significant. Jesus declares that the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. To explain this Jesus uses the analogy of a kernel of wheat and explains that unless it falls to the ground and dies it cannot produce any seeds. In the same way unless we as disciples lay down our lives for the sake of the gospel, we cannot inherit eternal life. He further challenges that if we serve Him, we must follow Him and where Jesus is found so will His servants be. What a profound challenge.
The second part of Jesus’ discourse is when He explains that His soul is troubled because He knows what is to come and issues another challenge stating that; is He asking that God save Him from the hour? No, but that this was the very reason that He came and so through His death glory would be given to God. A voice is then heard from heaven in which the voice explains that Jesus will be glorified again. Jesus explains that this is for the benefit of the audience meaning that Jesus would be glorified, prince of the world would be driven out (Satan) and Jesus will draw all people to Himself. In other words, through Jesus being glorified, God’s purposes will be achieved, Satan defeated, and the path would be open for everyone to come to Jesus. How amazing is that. Jesus is explaining not only what is to happen but the far-reaching consequences which would change the world forever. The challenge for us is do we realise all that Jesus has done and how are we explaining this to others?
May our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sacrificial Lamb, bless us now and always,