“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.”
This text does not say what the Greeks came to see Jesus about or ask him. But from the way the write of John phrases Jesus response it seems like the Greeks had some questions or wanted to clarification and/or understanding about something. So it is intriguing to me that Jesus answers them by taking about the need for grain or a seed to “die” in order for it to complete that task that seeds have.
The Psalms passage, while asking for God’s mercy and forgiveness, also makes it clear that mercy and forgiveness is what God does. The Old Testament passage states clearly that God also makes covenants that are saving to us, and that is also part of what God does for humanity. And finally, the Hebrews passage says that Jesus will become our high priest, guiding us and intervening for us. So it would not be a far reach to say that one of the tasks of Jesus was to die in order to bring fulfill the purpose that he came for. John writes further,
“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.” (John 12:27-29)
It should be clear to all of us that Jesus is not truly asking God to change the plan. Jesus is acknowledging that the human thing to feel would be fear for one’s on life. And maybe that is another thing that the Greeks visit touched on; what Jesus’ intentions where, and whether he planned to go forward with his and God’s plan.
This is the second time that a voice from heaven has be heard by others when Jesus was concerned. The first time was at Jesus’ baptism and was a confirmation of Jesus identity and acceptance by God. Here again God confirms Jesus. But the writer of John says,
“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. (John 12:30-33)
Jesus knew who he was, and what would happen to him. If one did not know how this was going to turn out, one wonder what this means – what kind of death would Jesus die? According to the consensus of Biblical commentators, “lifted up” meant being put on the cross – a horrific death. We considered that last week, but without focusing on the specifics of a crucifixion. But this is what was meant to happen, the way Jesus’ life was to end. And it would be done this way for a very specific purpose.
We are coming close now to the end of our Lenten journey. Let us continue to journey together and continue to ponder what this journey might teach us and show us. Shalom.