Lent is an interesting season. While we work through the scripture stories we are given, we find ourselves looking for something, hoping to find an answer to…what? Our own questions? The problems of modern existence? Everything?
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. [from John 12]
A few Greeks (Gentiles) who were heading to Passover were looking for Jesus. Did they find what they were seeking?
It’s hard to say.
First of all, we don’t know what it is they hoped to find. I’ll bet they didn’t exactly know either. Maybe they were just curious about stories they’d heard. Maybe these God-fearing Gentiles were gathering all the learning they could from every promising rabbi. Maybe they had a spiritual longing that had yet to be filled.
The message from Jesus was likely not what they expected. He spoke of glory and cross.
We don’t know what happened to those seekers. I’d like to believe they went away with something new to think about. Glory and cross. Glory was easy to hear—who wouldn’t be attracted to that?
But the cross? Suffering isn’t an attractive concept, but it’s certainly a real one. And it’s a common theme in many lectionary texts during Lent. No human life exists without it. While it is certainly not the pathway to glory and is also not something to be sought, it just is. Suffering doesn’t prevent glory, but maybe it helps us to appreciate glory when we see it. As horrible as it is when we or someone we care about suffers, that very trouble highlights anything beautiful that comes along. Precious conversations and memories, taking nothing for granted, calm in the middle of the storm.
This winter has been a hard one in my neck of the woods. Record cold. Record snows. Perhaps even record whining on Facebook. But the bitterness of the winter (and especially an incredibly cold and snowy first week of March) has made recent spring-like days seem even more glorious. This weekend at my house we’ll be cleaning the asparagus bed of all last year’s dead stalks and dressing it with mulch. From bitterness comes hope that glory will spring up soon.
Did the ones who sought Jesus find what they were looking for? Hard to say. Maybe what they heard was that bitterness and hope walk together on the road to the cross.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2015