March 30, 2021
John 12:20-36 NRSV
Tacoma United Methodist Church
Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus
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.
Jesus Speaks about His Death
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[a] to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah[b] remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 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. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
Just as twilight descended on our mountain community, a bad storm caused our home to suddenly lose electricity. Terrified by the unexpected total darkness, my ten-year-old daughter and her cousin, who had been playing in a closet upstairs, scrambled down the stairs, screaming for me to turn on the lights. As soon as I lit the oil lamps that sat on our mantle, the screams stopped. The warm light filled the room with a soft glow that immediately calmed the girls. Of course, we were all relieved when our electrical power was restored a few hours later as that source of light created a much brighter and more reliable light than that of the oil lamps.
Often our lives can take unexpected, sudden turns that leave us reeling through a time of spiritual darkness and despair. Job loss, financial worries, broken relationships, illness, the death of a loved one—these situations and more can leave us so distraught that we no longer recognize the hand of God on our lives. Just as the girls were terrified by the darkness, we also fear our uncertain future because our circumstances have blinded us to the presence of a loving heavenly Father who has promised never to leave us or forsake us.
Holy Week focuses on Jesus’ last week on earth as a human being. In today’s Scripture, Jesus attempts to prepare his disciples for his imminent death and what they would perceive as darkness without their beloved Master. He encourages them to walk in His light while they can so they will be able to navigate the temporary darkness that His death will bring. However, the disciples fail to grasp the importance of what was about to happen to their Lord or to take comfort in His attempts to reassure them that God is ultimately in control. Devastated by the events of the following Friday, the grief-stricken disciples go into hiding, believing that the last three years of following Jesus have been for nothing.
However, Jesus knew something that the disciples did not. In just three days He would rise again, having defeated sin and the grave, and bringing hope, peace, and the gift of eternal life to all who accept His sacrifice. When we walk in His light, we are filled with the security of knowing that no matter what we may face, we are not alone. His death and resurrection assure us of abundant life now and in the life to come. We do not have to hide in our own personal darkness and despair because the Light of the World has promised us His calming presence, even to the end of the world.
Our Lord, help us to feel Your constant presence and abiding love even when our world seems to be falling apart. During this Holy Week, may we ever be thankful for the sacrificial love that calls us to be Your hands, Your feet, Your voice in the world. May each person struggling through darkness come to follow Your eternal light. Amen.