John 1220-33 We want to see Jesus.
What have you always wanted to see? I have always wanted to see the Northern Lights – now I hope I pronounce this right – the Aurora Borealis. Not much chance of it happening though – you have to go somewhere like Alaska to see it. Anyway there may be other things that you would just love to see. In our gospel reading this morning some Greeks come to Philip, probably because Philip is a greek name, even though he is Jewish and they ask to meet or to see Jesus. John does not tell us anything more about these men, in fact he does not even tell us if they meet with Jesus. They come maybe out of curiosity, maybe they have heard about Jesus and his miracles or his wonderful teaching – but they come and they seek out Philip and ask him to introduce them to Christ Jesus. John tells us that Philip goes to his brother Andrew and that together they go to Jesus and tell him that there are some Greeks wanting to meet him.
Look at verse 23 and Jesus reply to this request. What in the world is he talking about here? Some men have obviously travelled a great distance to speak with him and he says ‘now is the hour come.’ What was Jesus speaking about here? Well turn with me if you would back to John chapter 2 and the wedding at Cana in Galilee. Look at verse 4 – look at what Jesus says when his mother requests he do something because the wine has run out. ‘My hour has not yet come.’ But now by chapter 12 the ‘hour’ has come. What was this hour? Well the answer to that is found in the remaining verses of the passage we read together this morning.
Verse 24 using the analogy of a grain of wheat Jesus speaks about death and about life coming out of and from death. A little earlier he had told the people the parable of the Sower and he had explained its meaning to his disciples. He explained how the seed was the Word of God and how it entered all sorts of soil with mixed results. Now we know from John chapter 1 that Jesus is the Word of God made flesh and he is the seed which now will die so that through the resurrection new life might be available to sinful man. Jesus says that the seed must die, be buried in the ground and die so that new life, abundant fruit might come forth. He says that the seed must lose its own identity, its own life, in order for the plant to grow and bear fruit – abundant fruit.
Verses 25-26 Jesus moves then to speak about what his disciples, and all those who would follow him, must do. He basically says they must die to self in order to gain life, eternal life. You see self is at the heart of all sin. Self-love and self-centredness are the very kernel of idolatry. They refuse to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and they rely on self and not God for life. Jesus says therefore that if you are going to be follower of his you had better follow his example. And what was that example? It was the way of the cross. The denial of self and the obedience to and of the Father’s will, even unto death. The result of following his example is that we will receive eternal life. In fact Jesus says the servant will be where he is and where he is is glory – the glory that the Father bestowed on him as the Son of God – who died, rose victorious and ascended on high to the his right hand. To be where Jesus is is to receive glory from the Father but it can only be gained by way of the cross.
Verses 27-30 Jesus now goes on to speak of the anguish of his soul at the prospect of death. Here is the battle which has raged in the heart and soul of the saviour from the moment of his birth. Here is the battle which satan tempted him with in the wilderness – to go another way other than the cross. Jesus’ humanity is horrified at the prospect of death but his desire to obey the Father’s will leads him humbly to pray that his Father would be glorified. How will the Father be glorified? The Father is glorified when his Son obeys him, right to Calvary. Jesus has now turned to the journey before him. A journey which will take via Gethsemane to Calvary to the tomb to resurrection and ascension to the Father’s right hand in glory. Christ says to the disciples and to the Greeks who came to see him – life, eternal life comes only through death. He knows he is now coming to the fulfilment of his purpose in coming to this world. He knows the hour of his death is at hand. He knows that Judas will betray him and Simon deny him. He knows that these 12 men who have shared his life for the past three years will all desert him at the hour of his death. Such thoughts terrorise his mind and yet he prays Father be glorified!
As he spoke these words God the Father answered the prayer of God the Son – divine assurance that he was fulfilling the will of the Father and bringing salvation to a sinful humanity.
Verses 31-33 now Jesus explains the what he means by the hour has come. John says in verse 33 that Jesus said these words to explain that he would die by crucifixion. Jesus says to the disciples ‘I am going to be lifted up’. Now when we read that we think of crucifixion but it meant much more than that. The Greek has the sense of not only being lifted up on a cross but of being lifted up in glory. Here was how the Father was to be glorified – the death of His only begotten Son. The death of Christ was to be the glorification of Christ. But Jesus goes on to speak of it as much more than glory but it will also be the judgement of the world and the defeat of the prince of this world – satan. What he, satan, would see as his triumph would in fact be his defeat. Jesus will be dragged before secular judges who will pronounce judgement on him and condemn him to death – but the irony of it is that they are the ones being judged and condemned.
Verse 32 the cross which would appear to all and sundry as his defeat, as his death would in fact be the very gateway to life and eternity for mankind. Sin sends Christ Jesus to the cross and yet by the cross sin is defeated. My sin crucifies him and by his death which I cause he wins me from sin. Here is the centre of all history. Here is the meaning of life. The cross is the pivotal moment of eternity.
You see the prince of this world is motivated by self-will and his power brought and brings only destruction and death. Yet Christ Jesus by his death on the cross obeyed and fulfilled the will of the Father and his death imparted renewal and eternal life to all who come to him. The glory of salvation is fully displayed in the shame of the cross. The result of his being lifted up is that he will draw all men unto himself. He will draw them to the cross that through it they might be drawn into the presence of God the Father and presented spotless, without sin or shame, before him.
You see the cross tells us that it is not a matter of knowledge, that is knowing a certain set of ideals, nor is it a matter of feelings or experience, that is if we have some mystical experience we will be fine, nor is it about a way to live, pragmatism. Christianity is not rooted in any of those three.
Christ did not come to give us a knowledge of God – even though there is nothing better than knowing God.
Christ did not come to bring us a new experience of God – though there is nothing more life changing than meeting God.
Christ did not come to exhort us to do good works even though he said we would be known by our works.
You see knowledge comes to us in words and he was the Word made flesh. Feelings and experiences are temporary. Yet Jesus said he came to give us life. In John 6 and verse 28 the disciples as Jesus ‘what must we do to do the works God requires? He answered ‘ the work (singular) of God is to believe in the one he has sent.
Jesus said to them I am a way to live, I have the path to truth and the Words of life – so in John 14 and verse 6 he says ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.’
Jesus and Christianity is unique because it is not rooted in a set of ideals, nor a set of experiences, nor in a way of living but it is rooted in a person Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Hence the apostle Paul does not say ‘I know hat I have believed’ but ‘I know whom I have believed.’ Becoming a christian does not mean you have accepted a set of beliefs. It does not mean you have had some mystical experience. It does not mean you have promised to lead a good life – noble and all as that is. Becoming a Christian is to be born again, to enter into a transformed and living relationship with God through his Son. You see religion is a burden to your life but a relationship with Christ Jesus will sustain you through life and on into eternity. Christianity is focused on a person – Jesus Christ. It is focused on an offer – Salvation. And it has an expectation of a response – what are we going to do about it?
Jesus said the hour has come and he goes to the Cross to pay for your sin and my sin. We put him there but he goes willingly and voluntarily because it is the Father’s will and he loves us unconditionally. He said that his death would be the means of life, life eternal. He says it will be the means of drawing men to himself so that they might be where he is. Friends he offers that today and the question we are left with is the one the Greeks asked Philip – We would see Jesus? Why? Because he alone is the way, the truth and the life and you cannot come to the Father any other way. So are you going to come? He has done it all and offers it to you freely. Amen.