by Pauline Simonsen
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‘Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”’ (John 12:23).
D-Day has arrived. Zero hour.
All through John’s gospel, Jesus is waiting for his hour of glory to arrive. Wow! Is it finally here – his moment to ascend Herod’s throne and wrest the kingdom of Israel from Roman control?
No. Jesus’ hour of glorification, sacrifice and multiplication will be when he is ‘lifted up from the earth to draw all people’ (John 12:32). He means death by crucifixion.
Jesus realises that zero hour has arrived when the Greeks come, asking to see him. The Gentile world is knocking at the door. Jesus knows that it’s time to reveal the mystery of the cross. If the Greeks want to see this famous Jesus of Nazareth, they need to see the wheat seed dying: the Son of Man on a cross lifted up for all the world to see, then buried in a tomb and planted in the earth. From this planting will come new life for all people and a great, continuing harvest of souls.
We are also the Greeks in the story, wanting to see Jesus, wanting to get a personal touch of his majesty, wanting a word or a miracle from him. But are we willing to see Jesus truly, lifted up in hideous crucifixion, and then planted in the earth? Even more, are we Greeks willing to follow him on his pioneering path of love and sacrifice, by being planted ourselves?
In our baptism, we died to sin and were buried with Christ. Wheat grain, buried in the ground. But then we were raised with him into new life! Through baptism, the cross becomes our place of death and life, of sacrifice and abundance.
Jesus calls us to a daily surrender to the dark earth; a daily dying and planting and rising to new life; a daily baptismal rebirth. Because, paradoxically, this way our lives will be fruitful and abundant. This is the epiphany of Jesus’ cross. This is his invitation to you and me today.
Draw us again and again to your cross, Lord Jesus, to die and rise with you there. Crack open the wheat kernel of our lives and bring forth your abundant life in us. Feed the world, Lord, through us. Amen.