We Want to See Jesus!
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
I give her credit. Her name is Denise and she was a preschool teacher in a former church where I served. Obviously there were many people interested in our preschool, including families who were not members of our congregation. One particular family sat down with Denise to discuss enrolling their child. Towards the end, the mother had one request. She asked that Denise would not teach her child about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ; she felt it was too scary for her child. This is where I give Denise credit. She said she could not honor the mother’s request. She pointed out that our preschool does everything any other preschool would do, but we do one more thing. It was started by our church so we could teach the kids about the Bible and especially about Jesus. And how could we talk about Jesus if we could not talk about how he saves us, and how can we talk about him saving us if we don’t talk about the cross? Jesus dying on the cross is the absolute foundation of our faith and to leave out the cross would no longer make us a church preschool.
And that is exactly the point Jesus made in our John 12 reading from earlier. It happened on Tuesday on Holy Week. A group of Greek Jewish heard of Jesus; all of Jerusalem was abuzz with rumors of Jesus who entered the city in a Palm Sunday triumph two days earlier. They really wanted to see Jesus, so when they saw one of his disciples, Philip, they asked him. Philip talked it over with Andrew and they agreed to take them to Jesus. Isn’t that why we are here in church today, we want to see Jesus? Well, listen to Jesus talk to the disciples, to those Greeks, to the whole world. We don’t just see Jesus. We see Jesus and the cross. The cross was necessary for Jesus, and it is also necessary for us.
I. The cross is necessary for Jesus.
“Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
So Philip and Andrew bring these Greek believers to Jesus. Instead of your usual handshakes and how do you dos, Jesus goes off on a speech, speaking to no one in particular but for all to hear. And when I read this, I sense excitement in Jesus’ voice. Maybe he had tears of joy in his eyes. I don’t know, but I know he is excited. Why? In three days he is going to die on the cross. How can that excite anyone? Well, it excites Jesus. In three days, all that God had dreamed of and all that he planned for thousands of years is about to happen. He will save sinners from sin and hell, and not just some. These Greeks represented that Jesus came to save all.
Jesus uses an interesting picture to describe how his crucifixion saves us. Farmers, soon you are going to throw a lot of seed in the ground. That seed will decay and die in the soil. But will happen? Each seed will produce plants and hundreds and thousands of other seed. That is why Jesus is excited. Soon he will die, but his death will mean the production of many seeds. That’s us!
It will not be pleasant for Jesus. He says, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” As man Jesus is truly troubled and disturbed. But Jesus will not ask God to save him from the cross. He wants to go. And God will be glorified by the cross. God is glorified in many ways. Creation glorifies God by its mere existence. Angels glorify him. We glorify him with songs. But the brightest glory is the fact that Jesus dies on the cross for us.
At the cross God’s judgment began. It began with the devil as God crushed his head and destroyed his death grip on us. It is also the beginning of judgment of mankind. He condemned our sin by punishing Jesus in our place. And you know the passage. Whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already. Sadly so many don’t want Jesus or they want Jesus but no cross. Their rejection now means rejection later. But those who believe stand innocent and not guilty before God already.
II. The cross is necessary for us.
The cross is necessary for Jesus. But it is also necessary for us. “The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
Jesus lost his life to save us. In a similar way, Christians lose their lives.
We already died with him. Paul describes Baptism that way. In Baptism we died with Christ on the cross and rose with him at his resurrection. This means you are not the same person you use to be. You no longer conform to the pattern of the world, but are transformed in Christ.
But are we willing to die for Christ today? A few days from our text Jesus’ disciples will show their love the world more than God. Judas will betray Jesus for money. Peter will deny knowing him. The rest will run and hide. We can see ourselves in those disciples. How often have we traded Jesus for a piece of the world, whether it is for money or sleep on Sunday morning to just not praying much if at all during the week? We spend more time counting our money and not the blessings we have in Christ. We have so often been more afraid of what people think that we purposely stop acting Christian so we don’t stick out. We are shy about talking about our faith. That is why we want to see Jesus. We want to see him because we are weak and frail and can’t live a day without sin. We not only see him, we see the cross where he removes the guilt of our sin.
So the cross is necessary in our lives. We die with Christ every time we hate our sin but hear of forgiveness in that cross. We die for Christ when we are willing to lose the world. It will mean someone will no longer talk to you because you no longer conform to the pattern of this world, but are transformed in Christ. You will sacrifice time and treasure instead of hoarding it like others.
We die with Christ, and we live with him. “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” In heaven there is no selfishness, greed, lust, coveting. There is no sexual immorality or hatred or arguing. But we don’t want to wait for heaven for all that. We can start now as we live for heaven now and fight to keep those awful things out of our lives. So we put off all selfishness like Jesus and serve God and one another instead of demanding and expecting them to serve us. And when we get to heaven, God the Father will thank us.
III. What does this mean?
I assume you are here today because you want to see Jesus. But do you want Jesus without the cross? What good will that do you? And not just us. Someone may stop by church because they want to see Jesus, but many times they don’t wake up in the morning thinking that way. They need someone like you and me, like Philip and Andrew in our text, to take them to Jesus so they see him. And not just them. We want to show him to our children, too. This is why Sunday school is so special. But don’t let your kids see Jesus only for that one hour. Let them see him in your home, not just in the picture on the wall, but in a family who prays, who talks about the Word, and who live it by loving and serving as Jesus loves and serves us.
Thank God for our Sunday school, but thank God for our Lutheran elementary school. Our goal is to see Jesus and that is no different in our school. Some people think that Christian education is simply one class the kids take. But that is not the case with our school. They will see Jesus in the daily devotions, in the Bible history classes and catechism classes, but they will see him in history as history is his-story, God managing the world for his Church. They will see him in science as we marvel over his creation. They will see him in every subject. This is why our teachers are special. Every so often I will get a phone call from some nice person who just graduated from teachers college. They wonder if we are hiring. I will tell them that our teachers are a little different. They are taught how to teach, but they are also theologians who understand the Bible, who promise they will teach it in all classes and not wander from its teachings. This is why we support Martin Luther College who trains our future pastors and teachers so our children can see Christ five days a week in all classes. And not just see him, but follow him. We teach them they are transformed in Christ and guide and encourage them to live that way..
If we preached only Christ and not the cross, then we are preaching a fake Christ who will do us no good. The cross was necessary for Jesus. It is necessary for us. So, want to see Jesus? Look at his cross. Amen.