The Certainty of Death

Read *John 12:20-33*

To Glorify God, Accepting ‘the world’, and the certainty of death. These are the three themes in John’s Gospel passage we will examine today.

1. To Glorify God

How is God glorified? There is a definition of glorify that has taken root in my spirit:

To Glorify God is to make God known where God was _un_known.

To Glorify God is to reveal God.

In Jesus’s troubled soul, he cries out *“Father, Glorify Your name”*

(_Make Your name known where it was unknown_)

and the response from heaven which sounded like thunder, or an angel, or Godself, resonates with this definition: I have glorified my name, and I will glorify it again

To interpret these words through the above definition and the lens of a Christ follower:

_I Have revealed myself through Your (Jesus’) life_;

_I will reveal myself again through Your (Jesus’) death_.

To Glorify God is to Make God known.

The Good News: God wants to make Godself known to the world.

If we had any doubt about whether God is present in this world, this crazy, mixed up, fearfully dark world; a world filled with fear of Corona19, of suffering and death; we hear clearly from God in John’s Gospel:

*I have Glorified my name I will glorify it again*.

We do not worship a far off, distant, uncaring God. In John 12:28 Jesus, Emmanuel (God with us) speaks to God, and God replies.

Has God been made known to you? Do you talk to God and hear the reply?

The Good News is that we worship our Lord who wants to be known, who is incarnate in Jesus, and who is attentive to the cries and pleas of the world through all time, and in all space. God wants to speak for the benefit of the world.

Halleluiah, Halleluiah, Halleluiah. The Lord is worthy of our praise.

The second theme we examine is

2. Who is the World?

The heading of the passage we read today is *“Some Greeks Seek Jesus”*.

If we read just before these verses, we realise that the passage is set in Jerusalem, just after the triumphal entry. It is the season of Passover, and there are throngs of (Jewish) people clamouring to see Jesus: the worker of miracles and the one who raised Lazarus from the dead. These signs cannot be ignored, and the leaders of the temple are threatened by the reaction of ‘the world’ (verse 19). The world, which they have observed ‘has gone after Jesus’.

The Greeks have been identified by John as different than their Jewish counterparts. These outsiders are reticent, hanging back just a little. The Greeks want to see Jesus but are unsure of their place in this truly Jewish setting of temple and town. They approach Philip, who approaches Andrew. Why Philip? Why Andrew? The clue is in the disciples’ names and background. They are the only two of the twelve disciples who have purely Greek names and both come from Bethsaida of Galilee, a predominantly non-Jewish district in Palestine. The ones who are noticeably different (the Greeks), find someone approachable who is able to help them in their desire: (John 12:21): they ask of Philp very respectfully:

*“Sir, we wish to see Jesus”*.

Why “Some Greeks”? Why does it matter that they were Greeks?

Last week, Wendy preached on probably one of the best-known passages from John’s gospel: John 3:16. *For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life*.

For God so loved the *World* that he gave His only son...

Not: For God so loved *The Jews* or *Believers* or *Good & Holy People* that he gave His only son… but for God so loved the *World*.

In theory we no longer define ourselves as Jews and Gentiles. We do not differentiate, knowing that God gave His Son to the WORLD, but even though we know this in our heads, we forget in our actions and thoughts. There are those of us who echo the desire to see Jesus, but we hold back. We want to know God, but don’t know how to speak to God, nor do we expect to hear from God.

Do we want to see Jesus?

If the answer is yes, but you fear you are not one of the ‘chosen ones’, hear the Good News: Jesus wants to be found by you. Just like he invited Philip and Andrew, all the others, and all of us, Jesus invites the world to serve and to follow. Verse 12:26 *If anyone serves me, they must follow me*. In the ethos of this passage, we can assert: _anyone_ can serve me, if they follow me. Jews Greeks Gentiles, Male Female, young old.

More Good News: If you have accepted Jesus, but you feel like an inferior citizen in the Kingdom of God, God wants you to be like Philip: approachable, inclusive, compassionate in order to be used to glorify God. We do not define ourselves as Jews or Gentiles, nor should we identify ourselves as more or less holy/ or worthy/ or chosen. Philip’s humility can be our model as we remember all people are made in the image of God.

And finally, in this Passiontide journey towards the Cross, we explore

3. The certainty of Death.

Jesus is troubled. He intentionally chooses the difficult road of justice and righteousness, in the desire to glorify God. He wants God to be known and cries out his desire. God wants to be known and wants to gather all people like sheep into a single sheepfold. Every person is invited to follow and serve alongside Jesus. But beware, following Jesus comes at a cost. To follow Jesus will cost us our lives.

Unlike the synoptic Gospels, John emphasises the ‘dying’ of a seed in order to produce new life. He emphasises ‘losing life’ to gain eternal life. This is different to the synoptics where planting and sowing are images of new life, but not necessarily about dying. In this passage, as Jesus enters the City of Jerusalem during Passover, the certainty of death by a Roman instrument of torture becomes the means of glorifying God (John 8:39).

Jesus answers Philip when he hears about the Greeks seeking him:

*The hour has come*John 12:23.

The hour had _not come_ when Jesus taught in the Temple in John 7:30;

nor while he was in the treasury of John 8:20.

These verses clearly say *“The Hour had not come”*

In chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the sheep who know his voice. Who follow, and who come through the gate for abundant life. The shepherd who protects his flock even to the point of laying down his life. Jesus says he has “sheep not of this fold” that he must bring into the unity of the flock. The Greeks are the sheep of another fold who seek out Jesus. As the pharisees say “The world has gone after him”, and Jesus knows the hour has come. (for interest read Chapter 10:1-18 through the perspective of being a Greek in a Jewish temple and town during Passover.)

John’s Gospel from chapter 12 to 20 is the journey to the cross.

It is a journey towards death, and Jesus knows it.

It is a journey with a purpose, to Glorify God.

Jesus is inviting each of us to journey with Him.

The insiders and the outsiders.

How does our journey glorify God?

The ‘world’ is invited to follow and become unified through his name, to become one flock and to follow one shepherd (John 10:17). Jesus has taken the sting out of death, and although dying is our goal, our journey is more certain because new life is our destination. Life in all it’s abundance, for all eternity.

The challenge in this message of Glorifying God, accepting the world and the certainty of dying is that often it seems to be contrary to our nature.

Because Jesus died the tortuous death on the cross in our place, the death we are asked to follow is the death of our worldly lives (John 12:25). When we die to ‘self’ and follow Jesus, we take up our cross in order to Glorify God. We do it knowingly and intentionally.

We follow Jesus as one flock follows one shepherd.

We band together with those who are similar to us and those who are dissimilar.

We unite, because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross which made God known to the world.

Look around you.

The person on the other side of the room is your brother or sister in Christ.

The stranger who has just arrived seeking Jesus is a member of the body, a member of the flock, because this was the mandate of Christ.

Accepting and loving others as we love ourselves is part of dying to self.

The emphasis on the collective nature of the Gospel will be even more apparent in next Sunday worship service. Next week is our Covenant Service, and we will stand and make promises to God and each other. I attach the Covenant Prayer in hope that as we prepare to make covenant with God we also prepare to Glorify God, to accept the certainty of death leading to eternal life, and to view the crazy mixed-up world with all her crazy mixed-up people as the sheep of the fold and the body of Christ.

Amen. Amen. Amen

The Covenant Prayer

I am no longer my own but yours. Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will; put me to doing, put me to suffering; let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, exalted for you, or brought low for you; let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing: I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessèd God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are mine and I am yours. And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

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