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JN 12: 20-33
5th Sunday in Lent

Nothing in the story tells us that 'the Greeks' - probably Greek-speaking Jews - ever get to see Jesus. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. A bit of passing down the 'chain of command' (or 'the buck'?) goes on. Raising the question of how we handle people out in the margins somewhere & any desire to 'see Jesus' they have.

Assuming they did get to see & hear Jesus, would these 'Greeks' understand what he's saying any better than the disciples? It's strong meat, high-powered stuff, coming as it does at crunch time for Jesus! Three things occur to me: i) do we take personal responsibility for introducing people to  Jesus, leave them to 'the evangelicals', or simply to 'the system'? How many people ever do get to see Jesus through us? Through 'the system'? Any?  ii) Is what we ourselves say as we preach Jesus meat too strong for people to chew, or pap not worth chewing? Are those who've 'heard it all before' taking in anything we say (worth saying) any more profitably than any would-be disciples? iii) Jesus seems to be more approachable for some through what he says, & for others through what he demonstrates, but can they be separated?

Before & after the theophany, highly-charged expressions crop up: glorify/ied, dying, loving life / losing it, eternal life, follow, serve, honour...judgment, rule... Jesus gives them meaning, makes them come alive by entering into his Passion. What about us? Do we spend more church life avoiding such a costly way of investing  them with meaning, than we do working out how to do what he asks? What might the latter really mean in our particular circumstances? Or do we leave that to 'the system' too? Is that why little changes?

The theophany itself is remarkable in that Jesus actually provokes it. The crowd then is as divided as we are still about such things. Is it just a matter of hearing what we want to hear? Seeing what we want to see? Surely there must be more to encountering God than that? Ever thought about how we might react to such a happening today, provoked or not? Or don't / can't such things happen in the 21st C.? If the voice of God speaks still for our benefit, how are we to hear it?

What is the 'judgment of this world'? Who is the 'ruler of this world'? (I'm writing this moments after it's been confirmed that Australian forces are to be deployed in Iraq - clearly against the will of the vast majority of the Australian people!) Who rules the world? Not God! We've handed it over to the likes of Saddam, George, Tony, & their minion barking dogs of war. How are we to win it back for God? What of the ordinary people of Iraq who suffer at our hands? Are they the ones who're going to be 'lifted up' this time? What will our judgment be?

There's a strong connection between what happens in this passage, what happens in Gethsemane not long after, & then at Golgotha. That old snake on a pole in the ancient Hebrew wilderness story is never far from Jesus' mind! He draws on it again now, committing himself to yet another step along the way to making JN 3:14-18 happen. No wonder the people go on to question how this can be immediately following what he says! This is where Faith kicks in, isn't it? But what kicks it in?