Monday 2 May 2022

 John 12 v 20-26

I want to greet all those who have kindly turned and looked at this blog.  I thank you for your interest, and hope I will continue to have your company. 
For the last three months there has been a dramatic fall in the number of people looking at it, too great a number to be normal, and there seems not to be any clear reason. I have been told I must have clashed with the algorithms, in other words, an automatic method to censor political incorrectness. Google have ignored my asking for assistance. Whether that explanation is correct, I know not.  If anyone is missing out, I will gladly email direct to you.


To-day I want you to look with me at these words from the 12th Chapter of St John’s Gospel. ‘Sir we want to see Jesus.’


In many small evangelical churches in the United States, they have these words inscribed on the pulpit to remind the preacher that people have come to hear about Jesus Christ. .  I had the joy of preaching recently at a small Methodist Church which had the same words inscribed on the pulpit. It is a call to the preacher that he must only preach Jesus Christ and not engage in philosophy, politics, or be submissive to political correctness. These words were the theme of the preacher when I was ordained at Chester Cathedral, one of the godliest men you could possibly meet.  I hope you who are reading this will want to see Jesus, for He wants to show us Himself.   

Jesus had entered Jerusalem for the Passover festival having just raised Lazarus from the dead, and was receiving an enthusiastic welcome from crowds of people gathered for the festival.  But there were some who did not welcome Him and indeed were plotting His death.

At such a time as this many Gentiles would go to the city, and although not Jews would join in the celebrations.  Some Greeks were amongst the crowds who had heard of Jesus and were determined to meet Him.  They were from a settlement in the North of Galilee and went to Philip who came from near their area and said to him, ‘Sir, we want to see Jesus’.

Having heard the stories of what Jesus had done, they realised something was missing from their lives and wanted to receive from Him that something  So when they said they wanted to see Jesus, they were in fact seeking a meeting with Him.

When Jesus was told of their request He was pleased and responded immediately.  He had not gone to Jerusalem to enter for the same purpose as the crowds had in mind, so when He heard a group of people were genuinely seeking Him, He said, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Jesus meant the time had come for him to be crucified.    

He went on to say "Truly, truly, I say to you."  Whenever Jesus used those words, it meant that He was going to say something important.  Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone." He was here meaning. He was the grain of wheat and unless He went to the cross,  His whole purpose in coming to earth will have been in vain.  If He had not made the sacrifice on the Cross, you and I and everybody else, could not have forgiveness. When He met those Greeks it was as the first sign that the gospel was to go to all the world, and part of God’s plan to bring salvation to the Gentiles,  the symbol of the great harvest for which He came.

If He had not died we probably would not know any more about Him for He would have just been another figure of history, of no greater significance than any other great religious leader. Because of the cross, He was able to do something He could never have done otherwise.

Everything that happened to Him was part of God’s great plan foretold in the Old Testament, and His death on the Cross brought Him glory. When Jesus stated ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’, He  knew what He had  to face and that He is going to be glorified through the sacrifice the cross, because by that cruel death the way to forgiveness for all believers was made possible.

At the cross, Jesus underwent the judgement we deserve and paid our debt to God.  His death gives us hope of everlasting life with Him one day. He wants to give you that hope in your life today. He alone can give you that new life that can never fade.

You may have started coming to church recently, or have been a faithful member for years, and then one day you come and a preacher says a word that makes you realise there has been something missing in your life, that perhaps you have even noticed in someone else; you know that you are still on the outside looking in.  You do not understand it all, but you sense there is something you need to find out.  You need to meet Jesus.

If we want to see Jesus we should refer to our Bibles where you can meet Him there, not of course personally but through a spiritual encounter. If you turn aside and want nothing to do with him, then in the end He will close the door on you – for all eternity.

There are those, and within the Church even, who challenge His divine birth and physical resurrection, those liberals who have merely a casual relationship with the Bible.  If however we reject these doctrines, we reduce Him to what many want to see Him as, merely a religious man cum social worker. But, that is not how the Bible portrays Him.

Jesus went further, and said, much to the annoyance of to-day’s politically correct theologians, ‘no one can come to the Father except through me.’  This is now unacceptable to many Christian preachers who claim (erroneously) that all religions lead to God. 

There are so many reasons for wanting to, ‘see Jesus’. People in these high pressure days are so often weary and depressed and looking for that spiritual something.   Jesus said ‘I can fulfil all those needs.’

People are looking for something beyond themselves, looking for a way that gets the most out of life, yet carrying a load of guilt, fear and worry.  Jesus said, ‘come unto me all you are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest’ 

So many men and women these days are doing things and behaving in a way that once would never have been thought of, so carrying all sorts of moral problems.  Indulging in activities they know to be wrong, yet unable to resist the temptations. 

If they had turned to Christ they would have had someone to offer help. But when a person claims to be someone, you have to make sure they really are who they say they are.  Many people claim to be who they are not.  Margaret Thatcher, when Prime Minister, visited a psychiatric hospital and met an old lady.  She greeted her and said, ‘hello, I’m Margaret Thatcher, your Prime Minister.’  The old lady said, ‘don’t worry dear.  I was the same when I came in here, you’ll get over it.’ 

A day is coming when we will all see Jesus.  The Bible says everyone will assemble before Him as He sits on the judgement throne.  Some will go one way with the goats, some the other way with the sheep.  We will have either joy in the after-life with Jesus, or eternity with the lost. The criterion is how we respond whilst we are here on earth.  The bible says ‘now is the time of God’s favour, now is the time of salvation’.  It will be too late after we have died, and no amount of intercession will then save us. 

This story is telling us there may be people who would like to come and know Jesus, but are not sure of the way to do so. Churches suggest strange imaginations in people’s minds, and not all Churches actually look welcoming. An important role is that of a steward, one who greets people as if they are the most welcome to ever come through the doors.  

But this is not always the scene. I as a known Minister, was visiting a Methodist Church as a guest preacher, and was met at the door by an elderly woman who looked as fierce as were her words. Knowing I was a Church of England Minister, she opened up saying, ’this is a Methodist Church you know.’  Just imagine a newcomer meeting an old tyrant like that, they would never approach a Church again. Always be ready to take a friend for the first visit.

We also learn from our Lord’s words that death is the way to spiritual life and heaven for Christians. From the Cross and the death of Christ, was to bring forth the fruit of his teaching, and to provide redemption for it is as true for Christians (real true Christians) as it was for Christ, and we must follow him to  life after death.  Just as a soldier follows his general, and sheep follow the shepherd, the professing Christian follows Christ.

To serve Christ in name and form is easy work, and satisfies a lot of people who attend Church, but to follow him in faith and life involves more than many are prepared to give.  A new readiness to follow the teaching of Jesus, and to ignore the mockery of people, are often too severe for many.  But Jesus holds out encouragement, saying ‘where I am there shall my servant be; if any person serve me, my Father will honour them’.  The world may well pour scorn on our religion, but when our Father honours us at the last day, in the presence of angels we shall find his praise makes amend for all.

May we ever be like the Greeks in our passage, and want to see Jesus and seek Him with all our hearts. 


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