We wish to see Jesus - Reflections 3/19/2021

Texts for Sunday March 21, 2021 
Fifth Sunday in Lent

We wish to see Jesus. 

These words from this Sunday’s text are from “some Greeks” who are in Jerusalem for a big Passover celebration, spoken to Andrew and Philip.

In John’s gospel, this text directly follows Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with crowds cheering and waving palms. In the verses before that he was at nearby Bethany where he recently had brought his friend Lazarus back from the dead.

Chapters 11 and 12 are the transition between Jesus’ ministry out among the people, which is in John measured by seven signs with Lazarus being the last, and his movement into his final days of teaching, arrest, trials, conviction, and crucifixion. As Jesus says, the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

Jesus’ celebrity had shot up after raising Lazarus. Someone reported this to the religious authorities in Jerusalem who met together to discuss it.
What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed……53 So, from that day on they planned to put him to death.

With a bullseye on his back, Jesus left the Jerusalem area for a while. He returned to Bethany to visit his friends just as Passover was to begin. A big crowd gathered around their house to see him and also the formerly dead Lazarus (at that point the religious leaders decided that Lazarus would need to be killed also). From there we move to the Palm procession into Jerusalem. After viewing that celebration, the leaders said See the world has gone after him.

Now we arrive at this week’s gospel text where, in fact, the world comes after him in the form of the Greeks asking to see him. We wish to see Jesus.


Did they hear about Lazarus?

Did they see the earlier entry into Jerusalem with palms and hosanna?

A couple of verses from St. Paul came to mind when I pondered those Greeks.
From 1 Corinthians 1: For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…

And that’s it for the Greeks. We don’t hear any more about them. If they were hoping for wisdom, what they heard probably sounded like foolishness.

Jesus began speaking to them, to the disciples, to the crowd, the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. By that, he means he must die - like a grain of wheat that falls into the earth can't grow until it is broken open and then can produce a healthy plant with many more grains. By dying, Jesus becomes a seed that bears fruit for the sake of God’s love for the world. 

It is hard to know how, but somehow, when Jesus is lifted up on the cross, Jesus will be glorified and will glorify his Father. It is for "this hour" that Jesus came.
It's a hard concept to wrap a mind around.

That voice from heaven, - thunder? angel? -  was sent for the crowd. It suggests that it is not only Jesus’ death that glorifies God, it may be that Jesus has already glorified life through his living. But at this point, John is laser-focused on the cross as glorification.

We wish to see Jesus. 
In the next couple of weeks, we will see Jesus as we journey through the painful final chapters of the gospels.

We wish to see Jesus. 
We will see him lifted up to die. From that cross, Jesus draws all people to himself. Don’t miss that: All people. Including you. Including me. Including the world.

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245