For the Fifth Sunday in Lent: http://lectionarypage.net/YearB_RCL/Lent/BLent5_RCL.html
The gospel writer John begins the story of Jesus public ministry at a wedding in which the hosts have run out of wine and Jesus’ mother asks him to fix the problem. Jesus tells her that his time hasn’t come, to not rush things. And, yet, she persists and Jesus turns water to the best wine anyone had ever tasted, the first glimpse of the glory to come.
In the bit we read this morning, we are toward the end of Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus and his disciples have gathered in Jerusalem in the days before the Passover Feast. Some folks came to Philip and said they want to see Jesus. We aren’t told why they want to see him, perhaps one of them or a loved one is ill and they want to ask for healing; perhaps they’ve heard of the signs Jesus has performed and want to see for themselves; perhaps they have heard him teach and they want the life he’s spoken of. Whatever the reason, Philip first finds another disciple, Andrew, and together they go and tell Jesus these folks are looking for him.
And Jesus tells them, “It’s time.” The time has come to show the world the meaning of the signs, the purpose for all that come before: so that everyone, E V E R Y O N E, would gather around him for God’s glory.
Jesus tells them a parable of a seed that is buried and dies so that it can make more of the fruit it was created to make. He doesn’t address the request to see him directly but says that anyone, everyone who follows him will be with him. We won’t need a ‘go-between’ or a third party introduction as these folks had asked Philip to be. Everyone who follows Jesus has direct access. Or, as my husband says, “God has no grandchildren.”
To live this life in direct relationship with God, to live as we are created to live, Jesus says, we have to let go of the life we’ve constructed for ourselves with our “unruly wills and affections.” Following, Jesus explains, is serving God and others just as he modeled in all that he did – turning water to wine to prevent the host family facing the shame of not having enough, healing and restoring people to full community life, feeding the hungry crowds with a single sack lunch, calming storms, and giving life. And dying.
Jesus’ pending death, he’s saying, isn’t death as we understand it. If you continue to read the remainder of this section of John’s telling of the Gospel story, the crowd who has just heard Jesus’ explanation of what is to come continues to argue with him: “we’ve heard that the messiah is to live forever so, if you are the messiah, how can you be talking about death?”
Unruly wills and affections.
They didn’t, couldn’t grasp what Jesus was telling them, what he’d shown them, what the voice from heaven had spoken, because they didn’t want to let go of what they’d already heard and chosen to believe as told to them and accept what they were witnessing directly themselves. Having a go-between takes away direct responsibility for our behaviors, giving us someone or something else to blame for our choice to not see and hear Jesus.
The explanation of the seed was lost on them. It’s often lost on us. We see only death, not a way to new and restored life. We want fixes to the life we have. Jesus tells us of a whole new life that is for ever. We can’t see beyond ourselves and miss the joy of the good news Jesus is telling us.
We are, each and everyone of us, given the invitation to follow Jesus in the light of God’s love. We are, each and every one of us, God’s beloved children. The time has come for us to walk in love and Jesus loves us and gave himself for us. Amen.