John's Gospel was written some time after Jesus died. It is centred around a number of signs and miracles attached to "I am " statements-I am the good shepherd, I am the bread of life and so on. Jesus in John 12 v20-36 is approached through Philip by some God fearing Greeks, who want to see Jesus much as people would ask an aide to see Madonna or President Obama, to interview him!
They are on
pilgrimage, a habit practised by Muslims and others as a way of increasing
their faith. The Canterbury Tales is a description of such a pilgrimage in
medieval times and today people pilgrimage to Iona, to Walsingham, to Jerusalem
and Rome. Jesus knows that these Greeks signify a turning point, a sign of the
end stage of his time on earth, the beginning of his journey to the cross and
resurrection. Even the non-Jews the Gentiles are following him! The crowd and
the disciples misunderstand what he must do, his calling. They are expecting a
saviour who will live with them forever.
Interestingly Jesus turns away from
the Greeks and their demand. Instead he talks about glorifying God (a theme in
John's gospel) and harks back to Daniel's image in the Old Testament of the Son
of Man. Seeds only are produced by a dead plant and so it is that this plant
must die to produce Gods seed, an eco God!
We all know what it means to lose
your soul (Jung calls it Psyche), to be distracted by what is not really
important and to die within. Our real self, not the one we present to the world
is fed, but our soul is dying. Its the worse experoence in the world.
Jesus encourages the crowd to take up their
cross like dissidents and carry it and if necessary to be die for what is
really important. This is not a religion for the faint hearted and some turn
away. Its too much to ask. Jesus is troubled as he sees what is before
him..What can I say to you...save me from this hour?
But he accepts the cup of
suffering...Like Moses lifted the serpent up on the stick for the healing of the
Israelites (still used today as a symbol of medicine) so Jesus will be lifted
up for the healing of the world. The time is urgent. Life is fragile and can be
taken from us in a second. Put your trust in the light you can see rather than
stumbling in the dark! Choose to live life to the full and dont compromise with darkness and what is destructive.