A Sermon for Tuesday in Holy Week, John 12:20-33

The collect and readings for Tuesday in Holy Week may be found here. The appointed gospel is John 12:20-33.

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 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.

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Maybe they had heard about Lazarus. Maybe they saw the commotion created by the donkey riding king. I don’t know why they wanted to see him. I do know that desire. Perhaps you do as well.

The text does not indicate that they ever laid eyes on Jesus. To see Jesus is more than looking at him. It is more than saying he lived and died for me. Seeing Jesus is not a spectator sport. To see Jesus is to participate in his life, death, and resurrection. We must participate in the hour of glorification if we want to see and know Jesus. “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.”

The hour of glorification is soul troubling. It reveals that strength is found in weakness, victory looks like defeat, and life is born of death. That is very different from the glory the world offers and that we most often seek. When I hear about glory it generally has to do with achievements, success, acclaim, prestige, distinction, and renown. I have to be honest with you. I find those things attractive. I like success, achievement, and distinction. I want them and the world tells me that I need them.

The world’s offer of glory is to make us distinguished, special, set apart, at least for a time. After that we become forgotten, a has been. The world’s glory is a disguise for death; but in Christ death has been made the means of glorification. Authentic glory does not originate in our achievements. Glory isn’t about adding to our reputation. It’s about adding to God’s reputation. It is about aligning ourselves with the Father.

We all glorify something, someone. The question is who, what. Jesus answered that question at the cross. So must we.

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