20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 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. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor. 27 “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. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. –NRSV
The Gospel of John is the last of the four Gospel penned. There were possibly 40-60 years between the time Mark’s Gospel account was written and John’s. That’s covers a great deal of history, destruction, and change in the region. John writes to give non-Jewish folks a clear path to belief through Jesus Christ.
It is therefore likely that John recounts the turning point of Jesus ministry and life. These strangers show up in town for a Greek festival and all the parties and they find their way to the Jesus gang and want to see Jesus.
Jesus clearly came, as a Jewish person, into a Jewish culture and heritage, but his message, witness and work was not only for that one people. God is interested in all our hearts.
Jesus begins talking about his death in metaphors, similes, illustrations and parables of his dying. In Luke’s Gospel, it is in the mountain foothills of Mt Nebo that Jesus gathers with his disciples in the face of numerous alters, statues and differing religious directions and asks: “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?” It is when they choose Jesus and “Get-it” as we say, that he “sets his face toward Jerusalem” and the cross.
In John’s Gospel it is again in the face of religious diversity that there is a sign that turns the faith journey toward the cross and Jesus’ death.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 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.
But that is the part of the story we have heard and too often where we stop and dis-engage.
Verse 25 is the Sign that Jesus was Waiting to see
Verse 25 is the Urgency of the moment
Verse 25 is the Definitive Call to Action
Verse 25 is the Awesome and Weighted hinge for our Faith.
25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also
The first few verses there help us understand why Jesus must die. His life is the seed of God’s gracious work that will bear fruit in us. But the seed can’t do it’s thing if it is not buried in the ground. (Yes, I have seen the hydroponics gardens and ask you not to get lost in the image of traditional vs post modern methods of agriculture.)
Yes, Jesus’s death is transplant, swapping Christ’s life and faithfulness for our broken and sinful hearts.
But we know that part… What we slide right through on our way to Easter is this verse 25.
The love-hate relationship for our physical life verses our spiritual life. This is not a battle with the devil; the ruler of this world is no longer our nemesis.
The struggle and battle is with ourselves.
- Is it my way or God’s highway?
- Is it my stuff or God’s good gifts?
- Is it my temporary or God’s eternal?
- Am I following “I” or “I Am”? Who is leading whom?
The solution is step down from the lead, let go of the lead and follow Christ.
For some this is a relief and a release that feels like freedom. For the rest of us… it defines the struggle we must face NOW or risk loose this gift and life we talk and think instead of trust and live in with Jesus Christ. The Hour has come to take a stand by stepping down.