The Holy Gospel According to St. John, the 12th Chapter
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
“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. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
When the Greeks came to Jerusalem they stood out. It was Passover and the Greeks were… well, Greek… not Jews. People noticed. They were “God-fearers” which meant they practiced the Jewish faith but they could never be REAL Jews, because they were not BORN to a Jewish mother, and if you’re not born into it, you would never be a REAL Child of God, and THAT... as they say, was THAT.
But the Greeks had heard about Jesus. The teaching. The signs. Maybe the Messiah? Who knew? So they wanted to see Jesus. And not just set their eyeballs on him, but really SEE him... connect with him... because maybe, just maybe… if by some long shot this WAS the Messiah… well, then the Messiah would have the power to change the way things had always been.... the Messiah would have the power to change the world so even Greeks could become Children of God.
And this WAS the moment. THIS was the judgement of the world, but not a “heaven and hell” kind of judgement. This judgement is the Greek word “krisis” which is more like the Chinese characters for “crisis” with one character for “danger” and one for “opportunity” put together to form a new word. THIS was the moment of a dangerous opportunity… an opportunity to walk out of the darkness and become the light, go from death into life… an opportunity to cast down the mighty and lift up the lowly… this was the time to turn outsiders into insiders… a time to begin changing and healing all of creation. And all that change is EXACTLY what made all this so DANGEROUS… because people in power back then, like people in power today, did NOT want things to change. But for the Greeks, it was worth the risk... because THIS might be their opportunity... maybe their only opportunity... to really become Children of God. So, in spite of the danger, these Greeks chose this dangerous opportunity to SEE Jesus.
Jesus, of course, was the very center of this dangerous opportunity and this was the moment. In John’s Gospel, everything points to this moment. Remember the wedding in Cana when Jesus told his mother that his hour had not yet come... Well, THIS was now the HOUR he had been talking about! This was the HOUR of his death and resurrection… the moment the world is turned upside down… the moment death ceases to have the last word… the moment that would ripple out in waves from that place and that time through every time and every place. The Greek grammar makes this VERY clear...This was THE moment God turned the world upside down but it wasn’t a one-and-done thing… it was a particular moment for sure, but like a stone dropped into a pond, it was a moment that rippled out from that point into forever, transforming all of creation in waves, continually changing everything... year after year, all over the world, through the centuries and even rippling into here and now. The ripples from Jesus being lifted up continue to change the world… to change us… even here… even today. But now, just like back then, joining in with a world changer is a dangerous opportunity. Even today, changes that feel like ripples to some, feel like world ending tidal waves to others.
Way back then, those Greeks leaned into that dangerous opportunity. They knew the dangers of seeing Jesus… of joining in with an earth shaker and a world changer, but they also knew that seeing Jesus meant the opportunity to be transformed… to become fully the Children of God they felt called to be… to be accepted unconditionally into a community of faith… to be wrapped up in God’s love and God's peace which passes all understanding… to not just walk in God’s light but to become the light shining the way to the Kingdom of God.
Those same ripples… that same tidal wave (depending on your perspective) from that same moment when Jesus was lifted up then, is here for us today. The same dangerous opportunity to join with God to do nothing less than transform the world into the Kingdom of God is here for us today. The same question the Greeks faced all those years ago is the question we are being asked today. Will we choose the dangerous opportunity to join with Jesus… the earth shaker, the tidal wave maker, the Kingdom bringer and transform the world? Will we join the One who insists that a few is just not enough and that only drawing ALL to himself will do?
If that’s the dangerous opportunity you are looking for, there’s some Good News for you today! If you, like those Greeks, want to see Jesus, there is some Good News for you today! Because today Jesus is lifted up, right there in the bread and the wine! In fact, EVERY Sunday he is lifted up to draw all, all, ALL of creation to himself including you! If that makes this dangerous opportunity something you feel called to lean into like those Greeks, then come to the table! Taste and see! Everyone is welcome. Everyone… even you Greeks. Amen.