Scripture: Gospel of John 12:20-33
We know that the author of this passage, John, or the person who attributes it to John, lived many years after the time of Jesus. We can safely assume, then, that the story is not historically accurate. That would not bother the readers in John’s time, for this was the way stories were conveyed. In fact, it is probable that the story was passed on hundreds of times orally before being written down.
The essence of the story is to tell of the end of Jesus’ life and the meaning of it. It is the truth of the story, not the story itself that is important.
John refers to Jesus as the Son of Man. This is important to our understanding of Jesus. By the Son of Man, we can assume that John understood Jesus not to be a god or synonymous with God, but as human, as is the rest of humankind.
This is the time when Jesus becomes glorified or something more than a mere human being. Through the words placed in the mouth of Jesus, there are three analogies. The first is a comparison of a grain of wheat. One grain is not significant, but by dying, being planted and germinating, many more grains are produced. Jesus’ death will produce many followers.
Another analogy is that of a person wrapped up only in himself. Such a person loses life. But by being invested in others, the life carries on and, in essence, becomes eternal life.
The third analogy is that those who serve the master, Jesus, must follow him and be with him. Those who follow Jesus will be honoured by God.
Jesus, in the words of John, then expresses his human fear of death and wonders if he should ask to be saved from death. He decides that he must do what he believes to be his fate. There is thunder, the voice of God, which Jesus says is meant for the listeners (odd, because they only hear thunder). The message is that through his death, which we are led to believe is imminent, many will follow him and incorporate his message into their lives.
By Gordon Hunter
Life-giving God, you spoke to Jesus and you speak to us. Help us to hear your voice in the still, quiet recesses of our hearts. Call us into service, even as Jesus heard your call and served you. AMEN