Lenten Meditation: March 9
This passage strikes me as funny that Jesus’ response to the request of the Greeks who wish to see him is this somewhat lengthy oration after which he goes and hides. I imagined being told that someone was here to see me only to have me respond at length about how this was the reason for going into the ministry and that the work of the church is made fully manifest as we welcome those who come and so on, only to then leave out the back door.
But really, as is so often the case with John, the literal is subservient to the metaphorical. Or, in other words, John is interested in ultimate truth and the ultimate truth for John is Jesus himself and the necessity of believing in him. So the fact that Jesus never actually meets the Greeks who wish to see him is really beside the point.
God so loved the world—the same world that is coming after Jesus—that he sent his only son so that all who believe in him might have eternal life. This is the glorification of which Jesus speaks. This is the cause for celebration that is announced with the words “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” The gospel is inclusive of all. There are no prerequisites apart from the recognition of whom Jesus is and what Jesus represents, namely that he is the Messiah and that he represents God’s will for humanity. Throughout the gospel are ample opportunities for all people, including Jesus enemies, to “see the light”. For John there is no middle ground. One either sees Jesus for whom he is or he is blind to this truth.
our culture tends toward the individual. This is not altogether bad, as it is always been a value of the American way of life that the individual is respected with rights and privileges and should not by tyrannized by the majority. And yet there is respecting the individual and the devaluation of community.
In the church salvation is so often placed in the category of “individual” salvation. Are you saved, is the question. Christ died for me, runs the affirmation of faith. And yet here Jesus says the whole point of his death is the creation of fruit where there was but a seed or grain. What results from Jesus’ death is not a can of corn but a cob. In short, John’s Jesus is affirming that it is the community that follows in his name that results from his death, not merely a string of individually saved people. .
So let’s put these two things together: the Greeks who want to see Jesus and the corn illustrations. The Greeks are the world coming after Jesus. Jesus is lifted up so that all may see and believe. The community Christ is founding is an inclusive one. Jesus was very clear. Whosever believes in him belongs to him and inherits eternal life. For Jesus no exclusions means no exclusions.
And it is a community Jesus intends to leave behind. Certainly we who have placed our faith and trust in Christ are saved. But Jesus intends more than this. Jesus intends a community to continue, a community marked by mutual love, a community performing greater signs and wonders than even Jesus himself. I am the vine, Jesus said. You are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing. In me, you can and will do everything.