SCRIPTURE: John 12:20-36
Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 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. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
Jesus Speaks about His Death
27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”
The Unbelief of the People
After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
Charles L. Campbell shares that, “‘The world’ (kosmos) here is not synonymous with God’s creation, but is rather the fallen realm that exists in estrangement from God and is organized in opposition to God’s purposes. (My interpretation of kosmos and my treatment of the ‘myth of redemptive violence’ are taken from Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992], 13–31, 51–59.) The ‘world’ is a superhuman reality, concretely embodied in structures and institutions, that aggressively shapes human life and seeks to hold human beings captive to its ways. Kosmos is probably best translated as ‘the System.’ And this System is driven by a spirit or force (‘the ruler of the world’), whose ways are domination, violence, and death. Indeed, in this text the crucifixion is interpreted as an exorcism, in which the System is judged and its driving force (‘ruler’) is ‘cast out’ by means of the cross…. What are the primary aspects of the System that hold us captive and take us down the path of death rather than life? Consumerism is one option. How many of us consume and consume, even though we know such consumption is not giving us life, and we know it is killing others in sweatshops throughout the System? Domination might be another focus. We live in a System shaped by hierarchies of winners and losers, and often we do not seem to be able to think with other categories or metaphors.”
Now I admit this may come off a bit heavy for some, but I think this is an important concept for Christians to consider. I have mentioned recently that during this pandemic we have seen some amazing examples of loving our neighbors by both individuals and organizations. Many have put people before profits and have shown a real love for others. But we have also seen the opposite. We have seen greed rise up in ways that seem almost unimaginable. We have seen a complete disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others. As Christians, we need to consider how we respond to these evils of “the System”, both now and when this pandemic is over.
Following Campbell’s train of thought, what other evils of “the System” should be or need to be named? Where do we see these most prevalent in our world right now, today?
Lord God help us to confront the forces that deny life and love. Give us the courage and hearts to stand up for and love our neighbors. Inspire us to support the people and organizations who also confront the forces that deny life and love. Give us the strength and courage to make a change in our world. Amen.