Today is the 18 March, The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Prayer of Presence:
Almighty God, through your only Son, you overcame death and opened to us the light of eternity. Enlighten our minds and kindle our hearts with the presence of your Spirit, that we may hear your words of comfort and challenge in the reading of the scriptures, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Adapted from a Prayer of Illumination, North United Methodist Church)
Scripture: Today’s reading is from the Gospel of John 12: 20-33
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.
Phillip and Andrew are caught off guard by the request of the Greeks who wish to see Jesus. Some biblical scholars believe the petitioners are dispersed Jews that have become culturally Greek. Other scholars believe that the petitioners are Greeks that are in Jerusalem for business during the Passover or who were “God-fearers” sympathetic to the Jews and open to Judaism. As far as Phillip and Andrew were concerned, Greeks were alienated from citizenship among the people of Israel, strangers to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
People were always asking the disciples for a private audience with Jesus. Phillip and Andrew confer with each other to determine how to respond to this request from a group of Greeks. They decide to tell Jesus about the request. The text does not mention whether Jesus grants the request for an audience with the Greeks. Instead, the Gospel journals Jesus’ soliloquy after hearing about the request. Jesus knows that the hour is ripe and has come for his obedience, suffering, and servanthood unto death on the cross. His death will draw all people – Greeks and Jews – to himself. The life-destroying ruler of the world will be driven out. Christ’s glory will lie in the redemption of humanity who will come to believe in him and find life eternally abundant in his name.
Phillip and Andrew heard the words and petition of the Greeks, and on the one hand, they treated the request like an item that needed vetting before inserting it into Jesus’ busy agenda. To their credit, they brought the request item to Jesus for his final decision. However, I’m open to the possibility that they heard the heart of the Greeks through the question. I believe the Greeks had a deeper request in mind other than having an audience with Jesus. They wanted to meet Jesus, to believe in Jesus, the Son of God, so that they could have abundant life eternally. It was their time to see Jesus. May we can be like the disciples, so familiar with Jesus so to be recognized as disciples and intermediaries that lead others to see Jesus and believe in him for abundant life, now and eternally.
Questions for Reflection:
- What five steps would you take with a person who asked you to see Jesus?
- Is your relationship and communion with Jesus so obvious that others ask you how they can know him the way you do?
Prayer Focus: For the grace to lead others to see Jesus and believe in him.
Christ, lifted up, thank you that you have revealed Your love to me today. Send me out into this day in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Fan into flame the gifts and witness that you have given me,
Enable me to reveal Your grace and truth to other each day so that others may see and believe in you. For Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory,
Forever and ever.