Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 26 “This is the very reason I came.”

Scripture:John 12:20-33

20 Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration 21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.”22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. 26 Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! 28 Father, bring glory to your name.”

Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” 29 When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him.

30 Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate how he was going to die.

Some thoughts:

We have pushed things a little out of time sequence here with this passage because I want us to see the larger picture of God’s working. Sometimes we think of events in Jesus’ life as a series of isolated stories. Normally we’d address this event as part of holy week. This response from Jesus comes after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. As his earthly life comes to a brutal end, we are reminded in Jesus’ own succinct words, that death and bringing glory to the Father were “the very reason I came!”

Did you notice Jesus’ unique answer to Philip and Andrew’s request for some Greeks to meet Jesus? His unusual response was that his hour had come and they all would see the result of who he was and why he had come. This moment is a turning point in Jesus’ ministry and in this gospel. Until now his words had always been, “My time has not yet come.” In verse twenty-three his words are, “Now the time has come . . .” Further, his words “anyone who wants to serve me must follow me” answers the question that his salvation was for more than the Jews but included the Greeks and everyone else in answer to Philip and Andrew. The Scriptures do not tell us if the Greeks met Jesus, but they certainly heard that his message included them.

As you follow Jesus’ life through the gospels, you will notice that every event, each encounter, feeds the grand purpose for his time on earth. I cannot imagine how he processed the looming ever-present truth of his coming death for all of humanity, knowing the end of his life on earth would eventually lead to a horrible, excruciating death on a cross. In this passage, we see that Jesus knew his time on earth was ending very soon. In his humanity, he embraced the truth of his mission with a troubled soul. (v.27) Think how much anxiety we experience in the days leading up to a surgery; can you imagine something of this scale, namely the salvation of the world, going through his mind?  

We must always look at Jesus’ entire life in a larger context. His nativity can never be seen only as “the birthday of Jesus.” His life can never be measured only in the context of his moral teaching. His death can never be seen only as his “death and resurrection.” His death can never be seen as only for the salvation of humans. His resurrection can never be seen as the pinnacle of his mission. His ascension can never be seen only as his glorious exit from earth and return to heaven. His being seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven can never be seen as the completion of his work where he can now take time off and go on a vacation! Jesus’ “work” continues throughout eternity. Remember, God’s timing is perfect in everything including your life and mine. We have a wonderous SAVIOR and High Priest who walks with us and understands us perfectly.

 Music: “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me”    Fisk Jubilee Singers, Ruby Amanfu solo Glorious!

Prayer: O Father in heaven, let me never think, that I am here to stay. Let me still remember that I am a stranger and pilgrim on the earth. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. Preserve me by Thy grace, good Lord, from so losing myself in the joys of earth and that I may have no longing left for the purer joys of heaven. I thank Thee, O Lord, that Thou hast so set eternity within my heart that no earthly thing can ever satisfy me wholly.          

   –John Baillie, from A Diary of Private Prayer p.91