John 12:20-33
12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.
12:21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 12:22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
12:23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.


12:24 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. 12:25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.

12:27 “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. 12:28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

12:29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 12:30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.
12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

12:33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.


Seeing Jesus based on a reflection by Karoline Lewis (Professor and the Marbury E. Anderson Chair of Biblical Preaching, Luther Seminary, Saint Paul, Minnesota)

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Do we really? Do we actually want to see Jesus? Or do we pretend, feign interest, when in fact, seeing Jesus just might cause a kind of discomfort we’d rather not experience.

Karoline is rather amazed by these Greeks. She gets get that in John they represent the world. The world that God loves. The world that God saves. The world that rejects a presence of God that just might cause a rather cataclysmic theological event.

But at the same time, these Greeks represent us. And they ask what we should ask. As it turns out, this verse is carved into pulpits around the world. Why? Because preachers need this reminder. Sermons should never be simply information about Jesus. They should enable the seeing of Jesus. The experiencing of Jesus.

The request of the Greeks is critical for our time. They ask to see. They don’t request proof. They just want to see. They get what “come and see” is all about — an invitation to be. An invitation to abide. An invitation to relationship.

But, how often do we ask to see, but have already decided what is worth seeing — and what isn’t. Much of what is happening now, in leadership, in our churches, in the way we interact with each other, we see only to judge, to maintain our own self-righteousness, not to get to know, to learn, or to understand the other. A word of wisdom –  leadership does not mean leading an attack!

I think that much of what is wrong with religion, with Christianity, with church and its varied traditions, is the conviction that we need to justify, prove, or validate the presence of God, the need for God, the certainty of God. This becomes packaged in pious rules, rather than embodying, giving witness to, the fact that God’s presence might actually matter for making sense of the world.

And so, instead of wishing to see Jesus at work, Jesus in our midst, we seek to control Jesus rather than remaining open to the Spirit. We set up boundaries for God’s activity rather than expecting God’s surprises. We insist that we can decide what is and what isn’t of God and so restrict God’s revelation to our own ideas. And when we come up short, rather than realizing our misguided assumptions about God, we try harder to execute our plans.

When it doesn’t go our way, when we find ourselves faced with our own fixed expectations of God, we quickly back-peddle, hoping to avoid the discomfort of recognizing our own need for forgiveness.

The request of the Greeks is an open-ended wish. They want to see, as it seems, absent of predetermined outcomes or preconceived ideas, at least according to the text. And the result is that Jesus speaks the truth that is his very self. The truth we never want to see. The truth we wish we could un-see. The truth about God and that is God and the truth about ourselves. The hour has come.

Karoline Lewis