Reflection – 5th Sunday of Lent – March 18

JOHN 12:20-33

Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His acclamation by His people immediately preceded today’s passage. Now Jesus will be glorified before the Gentiles.  Greeks piously coming to worship at the Passover approach Philip and Andrew in order to see Jesus.  For John, to see is to come to believe.

Jesus begins to reveal Himself (verses 23-28) by saying the hour of His glory has come. He immediately follows that statement by a parable that a grain of wheat must die before it bears fruit.  The Gentiles will share His glory – the path of suffering.

The servant, Jesus has frequently observed, is not greater than the master. The servant must follow (verse 26).  The master is glorified through suffering; the servant is glorified in the same manner.  Wherever the master is (glorified in heaven) so shall the servant be also.

John does not, unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke, present Jesus approaching His final hour in fear and anguish (verse 27). Rather Jesus clearly chooses the hour.  The struggle in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane later on cannot be interpreted as Jesus not wanting to die.  Rather the prayer seeks continued strength in living out the will of the Father.  The Father’s will is not one of thirst for blood.  It is rather that the Son meet every barrier to human growth and the last barrier to growth is death.  Jesus will enter death and destroy its power by rising on the third day!

The voice from heaven, like the voice at His Baptism and Transfiguration, affirms Jesus’ fidelity to being covenant Son. Some perceive the voice as thunder or as an angel’s voice – it depends on their perception of the mystery of Jesus, (verses 28-30).  For some He is and remains incomprehensible!

Jesus further reveals Himself (verses 21-32) as judge who definitively conquers the evil one. His “elevation” has a double meaning – He will be elevated on the cross and elevated in the Resurrection.  This double elevation is a royal enthronement theme as well as a salvation theme.  He becomes saving Messiah-King through death.

The crowd does not comprehend as usual (verse 24). Jesus reveals that the true meaning of His death and glorification is to allow the world to be in the light – He will draw all in faith to the power of the cross.

Glory, let us recall, in scriptural terms means a genuine idea of value and importance. God, His will, His love – all have genuine value and importance.  Jesus’ work reveals God’s glory – so should ours!

**Fr. John Krenzke