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.
Commentators on this Gospel are not absolutely certain whom John calls “Greeks” in this passage. These folks may have been Hellenistic Jews (Greek speakers from the greater Roman Empire) who had come to Jerusalem for the holidays; they may also have been proselytes attracted to Judaism from the gentile (non-Jewish) world; some even believe “Greeks” may have been Greek-speaking heathens/non-believers. I enjoy getting caught up in these kinds of discussions. It is also easy to get side-tracked from the point John is making.
These Greeks are outsiders, not part of the “true” devout Jews of Jerusalem. But it feels for me that they long for something more in their lives - why else make the journey to Jerusalem for the Passover? Had they heard about Jesus from afar, or had they just heard about this rabbi after they made their journey? What we do know is that, whatever they heard, they were determined to meet this Jesus: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
Their longing is not so different from many in our own world. One of the growing demographic groups in the last decade is the SBNR groups - “Spiritual But Not Religious.” What most often identifies this group is holding to a spirituality that does not see organized religion as being the principle means to spiritual growth. Perhaps they are the “Greeks” of our world, longing for a personal connection to Jesus far more than a connection with the Temple or Jerusalem or a Church or even a religious community.
Sometimes we can judge those who are not flocking to our churches, or worshiping with us on Sunday. But I am aware of many who simply want to “see Jesus”, and I ask myself what I am doing or who I am being that helps them to see the risen Christ through me? Or am I hanging on to the comfortable beliefs of my own life, hesitant to help others find Jesus, in part because that meeting may change me also? “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
-The Reverend Dr. Michael Kuhn
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- a prayer “For the Parish”, from The Book of Common