We would like to see JesusDo people see Jesus through us?

This is the question that our passage from John’s gospel raises in me. Do people see Jesus, through me? A group of Greek’s approach one of the disciples and ask to see Jesus. It is a simple and deeply profound request. 

At its root are issues of discipleship. This simple request leads us down a deeper journey of faith. I pray, that each of us also desires to see Jesus and that others are able to see Jesus through us.

Text: John 12: 20-33

We Would Like to See Jesus

“Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” This piece of scripture is the reminder for the preacher of the enormity of the task. Because as a preacher, having a reminder such of that is good and necessary.

In case you are wondering, those words are not carved onto this pulpit. Or if they are, I am unaware of where they are carved.

We would like to see Jesus.

The Greeks in our passage had heard of Jesus and they wanted an introduction. We don’t know if they travelled down into the area from Greece or if they were living locally. We do know that they asked Philip if they could see Jesus. They asked Philip most likely because he was from Bethsaida, which had a mixed population of Jews and Greeks. We do not know if these Greek speakers were Jewish converts or Gentiles who had come to Jerusalem for other reasons. What John tells us in his gospel account is that they wanted to see Jesus. They had heard of him and wanted an introduction.

They had heard of Jesus and wanted an introduction.

I suspect that someone walking up to us and saying, “excuse me we would like to see Jesus” is both our greatest wish and deepest fear. Many of us may want to also see Jesus. Often what comes as the response to such a question is, are you sure? Are you sure you want to see Jesus? Are you up to the scrutiny that you would be under? Would you measure up? As if an encounter with Jesus is all about how we will be judged.

Are we pure enough to be in the presence of Jesus? Have we helped enough people, said enough prayers etc. Often the sense that comes with someone asking us if we are sure we want to meet Jesus is the implication that they are better than us. But why the judgment? Why does an encounter with Jesus have to be about us being judged? Why can’t it be about us being loved?

We would like to see Jesus.

Do people today still want an introduction?

If the answer is yes, are we introducing Jesus? If the answer is no, why is the answer no? What are we and other Christians doing to turn people away from Jesus?

This passage asks us to consider how we are sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. I imagine that people do want to meet Jesus, maybe not the church, but Jesus they might be very interested in.

Those Greeks were there that day in Jerusalem asking to see Jesus. Of course, we have no indication that Jesus met with them. After this passage Jesus won’t be seen in public again until he is nailed to a cross.

What if when those Greeks finally did see Jesus, it was when he was nailed and hung to a piece of wood. Would they still want to see Jesus? Is this the Jesus they had envisioned? At that point Jesus couldn’t come to them, they must go to Jesus.

The Greeks ask to see Jesus. They don’t ask for proof or an argument. They ask to see. When we act, do people see Jesus? When our friends ask what it means to be a Christian, do we need to defend ourselves or engage in a theological argument that we may not even understand?

Professor Karoline Lewis writes, “I think that much of what is wrong with religion, with Christianity, with church and its varied denominations, with, in my context, seminaries, is the conviction that we need to justify, prove, or validate the presence of God, the need for God, the certainty of God, all with an accompanying appropriate piety, rather than embodying, giving witness to, the fact that a theological perspective might actually matter for making sense of the world. We spend an extraordinary amount of time and energy constructing a probable justification for our God who cannot be justified by our standards.” (Working Preacher)

We would like to see Jesus.

How do we see Jesus? Do we put limits on what Jesus can do, or are we open to the surprising actions of the Holy Spirit?

Another way of asking this, is knowledge of God the same as an experience of God?

My hope is that our actions will allow people to see Jesus. When you think of this church and this community of faith, do people see Jesus here?

The Greeks want to see Jesus. They didn’t want explanations, they didn’t want arguments, they didn’t want a debate, they didn’t want to see signs or miracles. They wanted to see Jesus.

The response Jesus gives them is to offer up the very essence of what and who he is. While the text might not say that Jesus meets with them, the response that Jesus gives is a truth that many of us, if we are honest, are uncomfortable with. Jesus provides a truth we don’t want to see. Jesus is lifted up on the cross, he is exalted (in the Greek lifted up and exalted are the same word).

We are coming to the end of our Lenten journey.

Jesus will be lifted up, onto a cross.

Jesus will be lifted up, as he rises from the dead.

Jesus will be lifted up, as he is exalted, as he ascends to heaven.

Jesus says to serve me is to follow me. Jesus shows the death he is going to die and invites us to come and see him. Because the hour has come.

Friends, I dare say the hour has come and gone. It is past time that we ensured that Jesus is seen through our witness to this community and the world.

We too, would like to see Jesus. I imagine it would help many in their daily walk of faith. It would ease the criticism and scorn we often receive from society. But take note of the response that Jesus gives. Read through the metaphor about seeds and get to the heart of his message. Yes, Jesus says, you may come and see me. However, wait a few days. Come and see me on Friday afternoon. You won’t be able to miss me. I’ll be the one suffering and dying. I’ll be doing that for you, but I hope you come by and see me anyway.

We want to see Jesus, the Lamb of God, our Lord and Saviour.

Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, grant us peace.

Amen.