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)

Another puzzling passage for the disciples. I do not know about you, beloved reader, nor how the disciples felt at the time – but there seems to be a good mention of death. We know why of course, and the writer of the gospel of John is definitely foreshadowing the events of this week. Did the disciples catch the nuances of life after death? Did you beloved reader?

Death seems to be an overwhelming topic in our currently reality. The social distancing that we are being asked to do is an attempt to decrease the possibility of illness and death. We have been told that death is not not inevitable if someone catches the virus and becomes gravely ill. Many will recover; some will be very ill and recover. And some will become very ill and die, depending on their health before they became ill. I, beloved reader and sad to tell, have health issues that could make more likely to become gravely ill and perhaps die. It has been part of my reality for a long time, and it is in the background of my thinking when I consider this virus.

“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.” 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 26 – 30)

My soul is troubled too. In times past I have talked about whether I should ask for healing of my ill health. After much consider and pray I had decided not to. If I became ill with the virus? Would I ask for healing? I do not know. What I do know is that just as Jesus said, “Lord God, glorify your name.” [Pause] No, no voice from heaven. I did not believe there would be; nor should you believe beloved reader that there would be a voice from heaven on my behalf. But that does not mean that the Divine’s name is not gloried. As Paul did not, I do not boast of myself but of what the Divine has done.

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)

Quite truthfully, beloved reader, what I expect if I do contract this illness and die, that I will be lifted up to heaven. But . . . enough. It is not my life story and concerns we are talking about here. And if you are made uncomfortable by my forthrightness, think how the disciples must have felt when Jesus talked about his death!

“The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.” (Verses 34 – 35)

How might they have dealt with this seeming paradox? If Jesus is the Messiah, and the Messiah remains forever, why would he talk of his death? The same issue if Jesus is the light that “is with you for a little longer.” And then the gospel writer of John said, “After Jesus said this, he departed and hid from them.” What is going on, the disciples might have asked? We might ask too.

The answer lies in Jesus’ opening remarks to the Greeks. The Messiah, or more accurately the actions of the Messiah, are not complete until Jesus has conquered all things – even death. That is where we must place our faith and hope, beloved reader, that our death is not the end of things but more likely the beginning. But a beginning that we cannot see, and in only the smallest and briefest of terms understand. The Messiah went before us into death and returned in new life. Ours will not be the same, since we are not Divine. But still, it will be an newness.

How I weep for our world, beloved reader. These times are so hard, and stretch so far ahead. The only thing that makes it bearable to me, is that I know where my hope lies – with the Messiah who conquered all things, and yes, remains forever! Selah!