The Gospel text for the Fifth Sunday of Lent (Sunday March 29) is John 12:20-36.
What strikes me as I marinate in this story is the dualing images of Jesus as Messiah that were obviously in dialogue with each other both during the time of Jesus historical life (30CE), and during the time of the community of John’s writing (90CE). Is Jesus the one who dies on the cross, or is Jesus the one who lives triumphant forever?
Of course, this debate is framed by John with the inquiry from the Greeks in 12:21, “We want to see Jesus.” Jesus response is almost a little sassy: “You want to see me? I’ll show you who I really am!” Jesus, it turns out, is the one who must die in order for their to be life.
I have to note here that both John and Jesus are within mainstream Judaism here, presenting again the ancient hope that the nations will stream to Zion in the day of the Lord (though in this case it is Jesus of course, and not the community). (See Isaiah 2, 56, 60 & Matthew 2:1-12) for the image of the nations streaming). John presents the nations coming to see Jesus, and Jesus in 12:32 presents all people coming to him because of the cross.
The idea of people actually being intrigued enough by Jesus (and the church???) is what guides the majority of my questions this week.
• Do we agree that there are still ‘Greeks’ looking for Jesus in Houston today? If so, what are we doing to be like Phil/Andrew and bring them to Jesus?
What are the Greeks looking for? And why will the nations stream to Jesus like he says they will in 12:32?
• Is our church (corporately and as individuals) a place where ‘Gentiles’ can come and see Jesus? What is the Jesus we present to them? Do we present the suffering savior like Jesus suggests in vss 24, 25, and 32? Or do we, like the crowds in vs 34, only present a popular Jesus with a gold crown who makes us happy in return?
• What cultures, traditions, practices must die at Houston Mennonite before we can ‘bear much fruit’? Greg Boyd says we must die to our cultural baggage as Menno’s and embrace the treasure of our own tradition (Jesus-centered, peacemaking, service, community, kingdom-shaped). Otherwise, we will become a “geriatric society” and our churches “museums.” In essence, Mennonites should embrace their theological distinctives, which are really the core teachings of the gospel for everyone, and let go of their cultural baggage in order to survive. What cultural baggage do we need to let die?
• The last thing Jesus says in John before he dies is, “It is accomplished/completed.” What do you think he was referring to? How do verses 31-32 answer that question? Do they give us a clue to help us know why people will stream to Jesus?
• What worship and devotional practices will form us to be the type of people who “hate their life in this world”?