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John 12:20-36

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 honor.

“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say– `Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

We are all familiar with the idea of a seed falling into the ground. When it lies hidden the new shoot takes hold, but the seed itself either disappears or is left as a skin. It must have been difficult for Jesus to try to explain things in terms which people would understand and be able to learn from and continue to reflect on after he had left them.

The word which Jesus uses for “life” is not the word which is the straight opposite of death. It has a meaning more akin to “that which makes you who your are, that which make you tick, the life that is within you, from whence you get your energy and sense of purpose.” It is that same word from which we get the word “psyche”. Jesus is not asking people to hate themselves but rather to allow this new life which He offers to consume an old way of living.

Sometimes we may be tempted to think that Jesus was Teflon coated. Here we see he was not. After he speaks about wheat, an obvious reference to his next few days, he is deeply troubled. It is almost as if it suddenly hits him that this is really happening. That there really are plots against him, and even, against Lazarus. Mary saw death when she anointed his feet, some of his other followers will understand soon enough.

Jesus looks to the source of His being and he is reassured. Perhaps he has already let go of his psuche – this way of being – and allowed that just to be God. Now he has to face a brutal physical ordeal. A death of body and a dark resting place in the cold earth.

What are the pieces that make you who you are? Good things, not so good, things you want to change. If you imagine yourself falling into the earth and emerging a fresh new plant, directed towards and empowered by God, what do you think of. As you do this, think through the pieces of your life which are integral to you and the things which need to be buried with Jesus this week. This is not about magical transformation – it is about taking the stuff of our everyday, with courage and patience, and piece by piece allowing God to grow us into God’s image.

Collect

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

God So Love the World – John Stainer

God so love the world, that He gave his only begotten son, that whoso believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.