the great Greek non sequitur

Pablo Picasso, “Crucifixion”, 1930


John 12:20-33

For Sunday, March 29, 2009
Fifth Sunday in Lent

Some curious interaction appears to be happening in this passage. First, some Greeks approach Philip and say, “We would like to see Jesus.” Philip consults with Andrew, the two of them approach Jesus, and Jesus responds, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Philip might reasonably have said, “Well . . . okay Lord, but what do you want me to tell these Greeks?” Then we never hear from the Greeks again.

Yet upon further reflection, maybe Jesus’ response starts to make some sense. For if we, along with these Greeks, want to see Jesus, we will need to see him not as fitting within our own expectations but fitting within God’s redemptive plan for the world. The Jews expected a Messiah who would come to earth, save them from the Romans, and then rule in their midst forever. What they didn’t expect was the sacrifice on the cross that would bring Jesus’ rule into force.

What kind of Jesus am I expecting? One that will save me from eternal damnation but allow me to live however I please in this life? “Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you” (v. 35). As believers we are called to follow Jesus into sacrifice: “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be” (v. 26). Let us not be lovers of ourselves but lovers of Christ and the redemptive doorway of the cross at which we die to ourselves for God’s glory.

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