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John 12:20-27 “We wish to see Jesus” by Isaiah Thomas

 My wife and I finished watching “The Crown” earlier this year. For those who may not be familiar, “The Crown” is a show about the life of the Royal Family in the United Kingdom, and it lived up to the hype (in my opinion). There is one episode in particular that stuck with me. In Season 3, there is an episode that tells the story of Prince Philip essentially having somewhat of a midlife existential crisis around the same time that the crew of Apollo 11 flew to the moon and back. Seeking inspiration, Prince Philip (who loved to fly), wished  men with the hope that what they had seen would spark some kind of fire within him or rekindle some sense of purpose in this world. I will spare you the details of the conversation, but let’s just say they were kind of a let down.

I imagine that what Prince Philip was seeking is something along the lines of what these Greeks were seeking when they said to Philip, the disciple, that they wished to see Jesus. Now, Jesus could have said literally anything once these people met Him, and I think we ought to pay close attention to what He chose to say. Recognizing that His time to die was drawing near, Jesus drops this bomb, “whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” I am not sure what these Greeks expected, but I doubt it was something like that. Prior to this statement, Jesus begins by saying it is His time to be glorified, so whatever He followed that up with would in some way describe what it means for Him, the Son of Man (read: Messiah), to be glorified. And how does He describe it? In death. What a strange way to go about being glorified. In our world, I think we more naturally equate death with loss. In fact, in many ways, a lot of our world attempts to avoid death. We stock up on food, we obsess over maintaining a youthful appearance, and we want to learn how to live longer and happier. If we aren’t willing to die, we may never experience life eternal. What is He saying? I believe that Jesus here is talking about dying to self. Take for example His seed metaphor. A seed has the potential to turn into a giant, flowering, and even fruit bearing plant. That is it’s potential. However, that will never happen, as Jesus says, unless it falls to ground to die. If it does though, it will bear fruit - fruit that can sustain other life. Jesus is describing the kind of death that He died on Good Friday. His death (and Resurrection) paved the way for our justification and sanctification. His death paved the way for our eternal life with Him. We are told that He says in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed to the Father, “Yet not my will, but yours.” He died to His will, so that He might obey the Father and lead us to a life with Him in Glory.

This is the kind of death Jesus invites us to everyday. This is a death that cultivates life. When we are willing to die to serving ourselves, not only do we appropriately mimic the life of Jesus, but we also give ourselves the chance to bring life to those around us. When we consider the interests of others ahead of our own, we extend the same love to them that Christ extends to us. When we are willing to die to our desires, we acknowledge that we are not the givers of life, but there is One greater than us who is, and we trust in Him. Knowing that there is eternal life waiting for us makes the pain of dying to our own desires purposeful. This is not some empty performative act, this is submission to the reality that Jesus conquers death by His own death. Just as He is raised, so will we be raised with Him. If you wish to see Jesus, you must join Him at the Cross.


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