Tuesday. The writer of the gospel of John places Jesus statements in response to the Greeks wanting to meet him soon after his going to the house of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. In-between the two is placed Jesus entering into Jerusalem.
“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.” (John 12: 20 – 22)
I have to wonder a little why the message was passed along in such a manner, as if access to Jesus was limited and/or screened. Because of the murmur of threats against Jesus? Because it was Greeks as opposed to Jesus? Or maybe it is the writer of the gospel of John who felt there needed to be an explanation of the process, or a making a process of it.
“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.” (Verses 23 – 26)
And who is Jesus answering? His disciples? The Greeks? The questions or request to be seen by the Greeks? What is sounds like to me is angst whose purpose is to portray or dramatize the circumstances and coming events. It sounds somewhat like the writer of John who liked things cloaked in mystery and spiritualism.
“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.” (Verses 27 – 28)
Here we have the pay off, the drama, the majesty of the time which is confirmed by the voice of the Divine.
“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.” (Verses 29 – 32)
You must understand, beloved reader, that for some Jesus’ death and resurrection was an event that (to them) commanded awe and sacredness. To dwell simply on the facts and simply chronological events was to miss out on the yearning and straining, the spirituality and mysticism that was there, or possibly there.
“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.” (Verses 33 – 36)
Do not forget either that this lectionary year concerns coming to new faith and new believers. There is a depth and breadth to the passion story that must be taken in. There may be at times and in some gospels an emphasis on that which seems a little over done. But it is worth it to be able to take in full spiritual miraculous impact. And we are only at Tuesday!
“Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the LORD, and my reward with my God.”
And now the LORD says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God has become my strength- he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, “Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” (Isaiah 49:1-7)
If you would set aside the fact that most likely the writer of the book of Isaiah did NOT specifically have Jesus in mind, but apply this passage from Isaiah directly to Jesus’ death and resurrection, you can get an idea of why/where the writer of the gospel of John wished to convey spirituality and mysticism to the days leading to Jesus’ trial and crucifixion.
And if we enter into that frame of mind where the Messiah and our Lord God does have a mysticism and awe that brings us to our knees, we can enter into spiritual worship of the Divine and say with the psalmist . . . .
“In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.
I have been like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all day long.
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent.
For my enemies speak concerning me, and those who watch for my life consult together.
They say, “Pursue and seize that person whom God has forsaken, for there is no one to deliver.”
O God, do not be far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!
Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed; let those who seek to hurt me be covered with scorn and disgrace.
But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more.” ( Psalm 71:1-14)
And, it’s only Tuesday!