Thursday, November 30, 2017

The dark and glorious conclusion

film graphic
Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: John 12:12-26

TO CHEW ON: “Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip …and asked him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ … But Jesus answered them, saying, ‘The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.’” John 12:20, 21, 23.

Jesus had just swept into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey accompanied by the delirious cheers of the crowd. Their Messiah had arrived at last! But when some Greek proselytes approached Philip asking to see Jesus, Jesus answered Philip with a cryptic and mysterious statement about being glorified. Then He added to the puzzlement by talking about His death. How does His answer relate to the Greeks who have come to see Him? And how is death glorification?

The IVP New Testament Commentary Series comments on John 12.

“…now we come to the beginning of the end. Instead of seeing Jesus doing signs, we see signs occurring through what others do to him."
- Mary anointed Jesus’ feet (John 12:1-8)
- Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem to the applause of the crowd (John 12:12-15).
- Gentiles came to Him. “… which signals that the long expected hour has arrived. Jesus announces the coming of his hour and speaks of his death.
- The Father endorsed Him - John 12:27-28. 
- IVP New Testament Commentary Series, accessed through

So perhaps Jesus’ answer to Philip speaks, as this commentary suggests, to the larger issue of what the visit of these Gentiles portends.  The nations are being drawn to Him. It’s prophecy being fulfilled so that His story can continue (see Psalm 2:8; Isaiah 2:2,3).

Jesus, speaking of His death, began by saying:‘The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.’ How can death be glorification?

IVP Commentary again:

“…death is at the heart of the Son's revelation of the Father, for God is love and love is the laying down of one's life (cf. 1 John 4:8;  3:16). So in the cross the heart of God is revealed most clearly” - Ibid.

Today, the last day of November, we're on the verge of Advent.  During the next 24 days we prepare to celebrate the early part of Jesus’ life—the cute, happy, cuddly part. But that wasn’t all there was to it.

Now is a good time to pause and think about the whole story, including its hard end.

It’s an end that is stitched into Jesus’ story from its beginning when Simeon said to Mary: “‘Behold this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also)'” Luke 2:34,35. 

It’s an end Jesus Himself was well aware of, for we hear Him say, just beyond the scope of today’s reading:‘Now my soul is troubled and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour’” - John 12:27.

That purpose again? To come as a baby, live the Father before us, fulfill the plan God had set in motion from the beginning of revelation (Genesis 3:15), conclude its earthly chapter by loving you and me to the extent of laying down His life in our stead, and then defeating death in resurrection.

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for sending Jesus, who became that sacrificial grain of wheat for me. Jesus, I want to follow You, serve You, and be with You now and forever (John 12:26). Amen.

MORE: Feast of St. Andrew
Today the church celebrates the Feast of St. Andrew, apostle. The day's liturgy begins with this collect prayer:

Almighty God, who gave such grace to your apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of your Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give us, who are called by your Holy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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