Posted by on Mar 18, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Call to Action

The gospel lesson for this 5th Sunday of Lent is from John 12:20-33. Jesus is in the process of not only telling his disciples on what they will be seeing in the coming days, but he is also proclaiming the same to Greeks or Gentiles. In other words, he is broadening the scope of his teaching for a reason. This section is really a continuation for Jesus ministry to the public and teaching all the people He talks with. Very shortly, Jesus will be spending most of his time with his disciples as he prepares them for his crucifixion and resurrection.

What is interesting to me in the first portion of today’s reading is that we have some people who are not Israelites coming to hear Jesus. These people are Greeks who have given up their former practice of worshiping idols and now want to hear Jesus as they are now believers I also thought it interesting that the Greeks went to Philip first to bring them to Jesus. Philip’s name is from original Greek and his home territory is Bethsaida in Galilee…another familiar territory to the Greeks. They felt comfortable and accepted by him. John presents this picture to illustrate that these people had faith as they had accepted what Jesus was preaching. Philip brought the group to Andrew and the two of them introduced these people to Jesus. Jesus begins talking to them all by saying the time is coming when He will be experiencing the very thing he was put on earth to go through.

Jesus is affirming the commitment to His mission here on earth. We see Jesus telling them the parable of the single wheat seed that needs to be put in the ground to die before it can bear fruit. This is not a specific statement that he will be like the wheat seed, but that is exactly what the parable illustrates…and this comes just after Jesus has said that the hour has now arrived.

I am not totally sure that either the Greeks or the disciples really knew what Jesus was meaning in this parable…but it is one they would remember after they have heard about Jesus resurrection Perhaps the most important portion of this section is the last sentence where Jesus challenges the people to remove their own self-desires and wishes from their lives and they will then live. He is also challenging them to serve Him and follow Him…and that person will be honored by the Father. He is most definitely asking them all to live as His disciple by dying to themselves.

Jesus then begins to talk more specifically about what his own feelings are facing his death and the trials that are coming to him. He prays to God that the Father be glorified…in the actions he will experience. All of a sudden, the whole crowd hears what they assume is thunder, but what really is God assuring Jesus (and the people) that He has already glorified Jesus and will again. This speech from God was mainly for the sake of the people with Jesus. This is also the 3rd time in the gospel of John that we read of a “voice from heaven”. With this statement, God is confirming His authority as well as the fact that Jesus is His Son.

So…what do these verses and experiences have to say to us? By the very fact that the Greeks want to hear Jesus…and that they gave up their former lives for committing to Jesus…we see that Jesus was drawing ALL people to Him. His ministry and mission was not for one group of people alone. His mission was for ALL people….as so is our mission to all people. It’s easy for us to judge people at times and exclude them from our consideration, but that is not what Jesus is teaching us. God created us all…and sent Jesus for all of us to have forgiveness and eternal life. Jesus was also telling the people listening to him that a seed….any seed, whether it is corn, wheat, rice, beans, whatever is dead until it is planted and breaks open. When water, air and light hit that seed, then life begins. That seed becomes a sprout and grows. We, too, as disciples see Jesus lifted up on the cross…as we talked about last week. When we see Him lifted up and exalted by His Father, we open ourselves to the light and life offered to us. It is this opening up of our own selves that allows us to grow in Christ. God opens us up when we make the choice to look up…and then God gives us the assurance He will be with us all the rest of our lives. God calls us to action. Worshiping Him leads us to action. Worship with Him leads us to action outside of our church sanctuary where we gain strength from each other to be His disciples. In our worship, we invite the Spirit to continue writing on our hearts, guiding our lives and helping us move forward as God’s chosen people. We are called to action to help eliminate injustice, break down divisions, help the needy, lift up those who are oppressed, to move toward what we are to do. We are called to die to ourselves, follow Christ through service to His people…and walk closely with Him as we carry out our mission in this world.

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