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We Wish to See Jesus

April 7, 2020

“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.” John 12:24

Today is the Tuesday in Holy Week and Day 23 of sheltering in place for our family. There are many things we’d like to see (and not just on Zoom, as great a resource as it is). We wish to see our friends, our children’s teachers, the inside of a restaurant, the light at the end of the tunnel. Especially during Holy Week, I wish to see God’s people gathered in worship, around the gifts of Word and sacrament, together. Wishing, however, does not make it so.

As Jesus’ story rushes headlong to its finale, the festival continues in Jerusalem. There are Greeks who, apparently, have heard of Jesus. They scan their mental rolodex and remember that one of Jesus’ closest friends has a Greek name, possibly shares their Greek heritage. He’s their best bet for an introduction. They go to Philip with a simple request: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip confers with Andrew. Together, they bring the request to Jesus.

One can imagine Philip and Andrew thinking how great this is. New people want to meet Jesus! His fame is spreading! Maybe the tide won’t turn against us after all. Jesus, however, does not agree to meet them. He doesn’t even directly address the request. Instead, he tells them the time has come for him to be glorified. And that glorification means death.

This has been the theme throughout John’s Gospel, the direction in which Jesus has been heading all along. Why doesn’t Jesus meet the Greeks? Because Jesus knows that the way in which he needs to be introduced to the world at large is in his death. In his death will the full glory of God be revealed. The suffering inflicted upon him will the be the full revelation of God’s glory, power, and love. His death, a single grain cast into the ground, will become the means of life though which life will abound.

You wish to see Jesus? Look to the cross. He will not be found on your terms, through your connections or intentions, now matter how good. Jesus will be found where we need him most, in the midst of our suffering and death, with the promise that our suffering and death do not get the last word.

Yesterday, a dear saint at Grace died. In these days of distance, I was not able to be with him. But he was with family, and the scene they described to me was beautiful. More than anything, however, I know how much this dear man loved Jesus. How his life had been lived in faith with joy and purpose under the sign of the cross. Jesus located the life of God within our death. We look to the cross of Christ and we know that the blessed dead will live.

There is so much we wish to see, but we know where to find Jesus. On the cross and out of the tomb, on the loose in this world, calling the dead back to life.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

“Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you. Grant that our love may not grow cold in your service, and that we may not fail or deny you in the hour of trail. Amen.” (Lutheran Book of Worship, p. 19)

The image in this post is St. Philip (c. 1611) by Peter Paul Rubens (public domain).

From → COVID-19, Lent/Easter

One Comment
  1. Harriet Roberts permalink

    Thank you, Dave. Good things to be reminded of when people feel separated, and more, feel separated from God. He’s here. Right in the middle of all this catastrophe. We can’t see each other and we can’t see God. But even so we know we are here. God is here too.

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