April 9, 2000

John 12:20-33

Some Greeks had gone to Jerusalem to worship during Passover. Philip from Bethsaida in Galilee was there too. So they went to him and said, "Sir, we would like to meet Jesus." Philip told Andrew. Then the two of them went to Jesus and told him.

Jesus said: "The time has come for the Son of Man to be given his glory. I tell you for certain that a grain of wheat that falls on the ground will never be more than one grain unless it dies. But if it dies, it will produce lots of wheat. If you love your life, you will lose it. If you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life. If you serve me, you must go with me. My servants will be with me wherever I am. If you serve me, my Father will honor you.

"Now I am deeply troubled, and I don't know what to say. But I must not ask my Father to keep me from this time of suffering. In fact, I came into the world to suffer. So Father, bring glory to yourself."

A voice from heaven then said, "I have already brought glory to myself, and I will do it again!" When the crowd heard the voice, some of them thought it was thunder. Others thought an angel had spoken to Jesus.

Then Jesus told the crowd, "That voice spoke to help you, not me. This world's people are now being judged, and the ruler of this world is already being thrown out! If I am lifted up above the earth, I will make everyone want to come to me." Jesus was talking about the way he would be put to death. [CEV]


1. Philip gets strange conversations. Back in chapter 1, Nathanael asks Philip, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" and Philip says, "Come and see." Here Greeks (the people of the world) come asking to see Jesus and Philip doesn't immediately take them but goes traipsing off to Jesus to tell him people are asking to see him.

2. This seems to be connected with Jesus reflecting on his being lifted up (an image from last week and the snake on a pole in the desert). John's typically poetic language talks about grains of wheat and loving/losing one's life. One take on this is that to "love one's life" (generally thought to be a good thing) is really only trying to remain a single grain safely protected from the risk of being planted and growing into a whole plant yielding many more grains. To love one's life in this way is not to love one's life at all.

3. Finally, a fine Lenten question -- what voice have you heard that has not been heard by the people for whom it is to be helpful? If you can get your mind and heart around that question you will find yourself blessed and others will called you blessed.

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