Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If I be lifted up

In the 12th chapter of his Gospel, the Apostle John records an account during the Passion Week where some Greeks came to the temple with the intent of speaking to Jesus. They did not approach Jesus directly, and there is no indication that Jesus ever spoke to them. In this, and many other passages in the Gospels, what Jesus does not do reveals much about his personality.

The Greeks first approached Phillip saying, “Master, we wish to see Jesus.” Phillip responds by approaching Andrew. Then Andrew and Phillip together approached Jesus. What you see developing here is a nice ecclesiastical hierarchy. The Greeks don’t approach Jesus directly. They go to Phillip. Phillip, though his is one of the twelve, does not approach Jesus directly, he goes first to Andrew. Together Phillip and Andrew approach Jesus to tell him that the Greeks wished to see him. Jesus’ response is hardly like an answer. It was certainly not the yea or nay for which they and the Greeks were looking. They might have felt as if they were being ignored.
And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name.
Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. 
Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
(John 12:23-32)
When Jesus said, “if I be lifted up from the earth” was speaking of his crucifixion. The people understood him perfectly regarding his metaphor (verses 33-34).

Back to the Greeks whose inquiry launched this discourse: Jesus didn’t recognize the ecclesiastical hierarchy that the Greeks presumed existed. He did not pass a message down the chain of command. Rather he spoke to the whole crowd saying, “if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me.” This included the Greeks! Jesus wasn’t giving the Greeks the brush off; he probably was rebuking the disciples for assuming they needed to ask. The Greeks may not have had the satisfaction of speaking with Jesus, but if so, it was only because they asked Phillip instead of approaching Jesus directly. The purpose of Jesus’ ministry was to draw men—even the Greeks—to himself.

Jesus’ message is never come to my disciples or come to my religion; rather, he implores men saying, come to me. Waiting in line holding your breath to get permission is just a big waste of time.

No comments:

Post a Comment