Holy Week Project – Tuesday – What’s Better than Answers to all our Questions?

Holy Week

         Tuesday, April 7th, 2020
         Posting by Cindy Dufty

 

What’s Better than Answers to all our Questions?

 

Scripture: John 12:20-36 (NIV)

Jesus Predicts His Death

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted upa] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
 

Reflection: 

What’s Better than Answers to all our Questions?

In this text some “Greeks” who were in Jerusalem for the Passover feast asked Philip for an introduction to Jesus of Nazareth. Philip and Andrew, both from the north Galilee fishing village of Bethsaida, relay this inquiry to Jesus.

I’ve always wanted to know more about these “Greeks.” Were they travelers from Greek-speaking regions of the Roman empire? Maybe they were natives of “Galilee of the Gentiles” – disparaged by the Jerusalem elite as a place with too many foreigners. I’d assume they were “God fearers,” drawn to the God of Israel but not fully compliant with the rigorous demands of the Torah. Did Jesus agree to talk with them, and if so, how did that conversation go?

The text doesn’t answer my questions; rather we are invited into an intimate disclosure of the thoughts and feelings of the Son of Man a few days before the execution he knew was coming. Perhaps this inquiry from “foreigners” serves as a signal for him – “The hour is coming for the son of Man to be glorified.” Did these Greeks stand in for the multitudes from every nation who would hear and believe the good news about Jesus, up to and including us in our time and place?

Jesus expresses his willingness to be the grain of wheat dying so that a great harvest can take place. Yet he shares his troubled emotional state as he contemplates the horror of that painful trial. In tune as always with the Father’s purpose, he asks only that the Father be glorified. The heavenly affirming voice comes, reminding us of what happened at his Jordan River baptism.

And then Jesus announces another dimension of the work of the cross he is undertaking: “Now judgment is upon this world, now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” This is a turnabout; Jesus surely knows he is the one who will be arrested, maligned by false witnesses and convicted, then marched outside the city to suffer the most humiliating and tortuous death devised by humans at that time.

How is it that the “ruler of this world”, AKA the Satan or the accuser, has been cast out? Today as we are challenged by a natural evil of global scope and the continuing power of death, I think we readily agree with the author of Hebrews that “we do not yet see everything subjected to Jesus.” (Hebrews 2:8). I have questions about this too but am helped by the meditations of others.

Not that the world is now wholly rid of the devil and goes on with him being completely removed. The judgment on his kingdom (“This World”) is the judgment on his rule over this kingdom, the decree that throws him out. What remains to him is the hopeless attempt of an already dethroned ruler to maintain himself any kingdom, the very existence of which is blasted forever.[1]

The ruler of this world, the lord of disorder and of disordered humanity in his thrall, passes judgment on the judge of all. The judgment is so monstrously false that only by submitting to it can its falseness be exposed. By Christ submitting to the judgment of the world, the world is judged. [2]

Finally, as we deal with fears and anxieties, and experience disruptions of our plans and the times of gathering together that so bless us, let us hear Jesus’ words of encouragement: “While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”

After Good Friday and Easter, we know how the Light triumphs. We know Jesus’ being first lifted up on the cross has demonstrated the heart and purpose of God to reconcile all things to himself. We know that Jesus then being lifted up from the tomb shows the Father’s vindication of his Son and the Triumph of the righteous suffering servant.

We know that, if we are united to Christ through actively putting our whole trust in him, the one who would accuse us has “nothing on us” either. What can we do in these days to live by his grace as children of light and share our hope with others?

Let’s resolve to do as one of our worship songs suggests:

 
“I will build my life upon Your love
It is a firm foundation
I will put my trust in You alone
And I will not be shaken”[3]
 
 
 

[1] Lenski, R.C.H. The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, p. 874

[2] Neuhaus, Richard John, Death on a Friday Afternoon p. 28

[3] Build My Life, Song Lyrics CCLI# 7070345