John 12:20-26 (CSB) Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival.So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.”Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, there my servant also will be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
Today, 15 April 2022, Christians worldwide commemorate Good Friday. It is a remembrance of the occasion of the Jesus’ death of a cross. Every year, there will be some Christians who will bring up that Jesus could not have died on a Friday if He were to have resurrected 3 days later, the morning after the end of the Jewish Shabbat. When I first heard that argument, I had to go through it a couple of times to begin to understand it. The evidence is a bit complicated but it is compelling.
However, with all due respect to these well-meaning Christians who are trying to get some pagan influenced out of Christianity, perhaps the “WHEN” is not as important as the “WHAT”. In the first century AD, many Christians were slaves who did not have the liberty to do as they liked. Is it any wonder, then, that they might have had to celebrate certain occasions when their masters were on holiday too? But thanks be to God, our faith is not measured on how faithfully we observe holy days but, rather, how faithful we are to observe and obey the Word of our King.
But this isn’t my reflection for today….
Of late, John 12:24 has been on my mind. This verse was about a grain of wheat having to “die” in order to bear much fruit. Jesus was referring to Himself having to go to the cross in order for His work to bear much fruit. I decided to read it in the context of v20-26 and it showed a richer meaning.
This prophetic pronouncement came about because a group of Greek proselytes requested an audience with Jesus. (As far as I can tell, this was the only time any Hellenistic Jews had sought Him out.) They approach Philip who approached Andrew and the two then approached Jesus.
What our Lord said was remarkable. His immediate reply was that the time for Him to be glorified had come. It was almost as though the appearance of the Greeks had been a sign. Until that time, Jesus had ministered almost exclusively to the Jews. With His glorification, the kingdom of God would take a huge leap in being advanced among Gentiles.
He goes on to talk about why He must die. He dies so that He can bear much fruit I.e. many may become citizens of the kingdom of God. Had He not gone to the cross, we would not have been able to gain entry. The cross was the doorway into God’s kingdom.
If verse 24 tells us Jesus’ part in the process, then verses 25 and 26 tell us our part. There are 2 things we must do.
1. If we love our lives in this world too much, we may miss out on eternal life in God’s kingdom. But if we value knowing Jesus more than anything in this world, we gain the kingdom of God in our lives!
2. Having made such an evaluation, we must then follow Christ in order to be with Him always. In this life, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside to guide us. In the age to come, we will see Christ face ti face! And we will always be with Him! Hallelujah!
This Good Friday, may we remember that Jesus died so that everyone – Jew or Gentile – could enter God’s kingdom. He is everyone’s Messiah! He is the Door into the kingdom of God. If we desire to see Jesus and to be with Him, then the things of this world cannot be our life’s main priority. Knowing Christ and following Him, i.e. hearing and obeying Him, must be.
May your Good Friday be made even better by doing so…