John 12, 19-26
Something to read
The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
King James Version
The Pharisees then said to one another, 'You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!' 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 honour.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Not everyone who wished to see Jesus did so with evil intent. The chief priests planned to put to death Lazarus as well as Jesus (12:10), and John does give us a picture of increasing hostility, but today we read of some Greeks who wished to spend time with Jesus, and approached Philip with the oft quoted "Sir, we wish to see Jesus".
In many pulpits around the world you will see this text quoted as a final reminder to the preacher of their task when they rise to speak. In our own setting we can have decided who does and does not want to know Jesus long before they themselves have made up their mind, perhaps based on good assumptions but assumptions nevertheless.
How much does this hold them back if we prejudice them in such a way? It is easy to do, writing these words I can think of friends and family who I think would never say these words, but perhaps I am putting them into their mouths quite unwillingly.
Knowing the right and wrong time to speak can be incredibly difficult, and knowing the exact words to say even more so. We often face a delicate balancing act between the extremities of silence on our faith and proclamation that borders on the obnoxious. As we read today's passage may we be reminded of the discernment needed to avoid these traps and give focus to our following of Christ.
Something to do
Reflect upon a situation where you have felt the conversation with a friend or family member did not progress how you expected it. What is it that caused the trigger moment for disagreement or confusion to surface? If you can identify something, pray about your response and what God might wish to teach you through such dialogues, and if possible read further around the subject or topic so that you can continue the dialogue and grow in understanding.
Something to pray
Loving God, there at times when we know the words we say do more harm than good. We cringe at our mistakes and protest our own gaffes. Forgive us that in our eagerness to share our knowledge of You at times we sully the very thing we wish to bring glory to. Please Lord show us how we can pursue conversations with those we love who do not know You to best reflect the inherent majesty of Your being. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Today's contributor is Russell Winfield, a minister training at Westminster College, Cambridge.