“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.” (John 12:20 – 26)
At some point in my seminary education, I was told that this coming of the Greeks to request an audience with Jesus signaled the end of Jesus’ ministry; and the beginning of his journey to Jerusalem and the cross. Word had spread about Jesus, and that the Greeks from a distance had heard about Jesus indicates . . . well, that Jesus was no longer a local phenomenon. And I am sure that angered his detractors who were growing more and more displeased.
“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.” (Verses 27 – 28)
Word of this spread too I am sure.
The gospel of John (and by implication the writer of the gospel of John) seems to be propelling the story to a conclusion that could only have been realized in hindsight. Or maybe that was obvious to you, beloved reader. I have to wonder, beloved reader, if the writer of this gospel felt that Jesus was trying to incite the Jewish leaders and officials? And how did Jesus coming to this point, and why would making this revelation glorify the Divine’s Name? What I mean is, how did the writer of the gospel of John feel it would glorify the Divine’s Name?
Having four different gospels allows the reader to view Jesus’ life from several different aspects. Was this by design also? How much of all of this is hindsight, and how much predestination?
“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.” (Verses 29 – 30)
Every once in a while, beloved reader, I like to take a step back and consider scripture without the lens of faith and spirituality. To consider the gospel stories as just that – stories. And to wonder and ponder what the purpose of the story was/is, and what the author’s intent was.
“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.” (Verses 31 – 33)
This process and exercise is very easy to do with the gospel of John, because the writer is so clear in what his intentions are; or at least it is true for me because of benefiting from my seminary teachers. The writer of the gospel of John wants to portray Jesus as a mystical figure who was endowed from a very early age with a divinity that grew over his lifetime and ministry leading to the “inevitable” event of his death because he provoked such controversy that his presence, his very existence, could no longer be tolerated.
If we were going to stop there, then we would very definitely be outside of the story and considering only the bare bones account. But, Jesus’ statement that the “Voice” was not for his benefit but ours pulls us back in. Why do we listeners/hearers/readers of this account need this “Voice”? And actually, beloved reader, I am not going to tell you today. I want to give you space and time to consider the account that is recorded here, not as believers who make assumptions but as listeners and seekers who are trying to understand what is happening at this juncture of Jesus’ life journey. Until next time!