Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
During Holy Week, we are running a special post each day here at Internet Monk. We glean one word or phrase for contemplation from the Gospel passage for the day, and hear a devotional thought from one of my favorite old books by Dr. John Killinger. The copy I have is called Devotional Thoughts on the Gospels but it was republished as Day by Day With Jesus.
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Today’s phrase is JESUS’ HOUR. All through John’s Gospel, Jesus’ “hour” is the climactic moment of his life and ministry. The various terms used to describe it are striking in the contradictory concepts they capture. It is the hour for him to be “glorified” — a concept of heavenly grandeur. Yet Jesus explains this by appealing to the common earthy metaphor of a grain of wheat buried in the ground. He speaks of being “lifted up” but this lifting up indicates his “death.”
The whole passage is rife with opposing notions: death vs. vitality and fruitfulness, laying down one’s life vs. keeping it, loving one’s life vs. hating it, servants receiving honor, light vs. darkness, and so on. In this way, John’s Gospel reinforces that God’s ways are not ours, that God’s salvation will not come in any conventional manner, that our hope is based not in human wisdom but in divine love and sacrifice.
As. Dr. John Killinger notes:
Jesus’ metaphor to the disciples about a grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying was an important lesson. He would be their great example, and they would later learn to give their lives as he gave his. “What good is saving your life,” he asked in effect. “If you do that, you destroy it. It is only by living generously — by sowing your life profligately, as wheat is sown — that you enable the future to spring from your deeds!”
And this is what Jesus did for us. What wondrous love is this!
Father, on this day I confess you the King of glory and all-wise God. Your ways are not my ways, nor your thoughts my thoughts.
I confess my propensity to preserve my life, to shrink from serving, to drag my feet in darkness when I should run to your light. How thankful I am that Jesus graciously, steadily, unswervingly stayed on the path God chose for him until his hour had come and all was fulfilled. Honored through service, lifted up in death, bringing light through baptism in darkness, he secured our salvation.
Forgive me, renew me, and lead me, that in this holiest of weeks I may delight in your will and walk in your ways. Amen.