top of page

Lent 5

Saint Margaret’s

Anglican Church

Budapest, Hungary

Jeremiah 31:31-34 Psalm 51:1-13 or Psalm

119:9-16 Hebrews 5:5-10 John 12:20-33

We wish to see Jesus…

As most Christians know, the Gospel of John is

something of an outlier among the four Gospels

with its own points of reference and objectives,

in many ways quite different from those of the

other three, the so-called Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The

Gospel of John, for instance, records no parables. No stories of Jesus’ birth either,

otherwise found only in Luke and Matthew. And John’s depiction of our Lord and

his mission is strikingly different on many levels from that given us in the other

Gospel accounts.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is not just the long-awaited Jewish Messiah steeped in

Hebrew culture and tradition and come to tell his people of the Father’s love and

of the impending Kingdom of Heaven, themes common to the Synoptic Gospels.

John’s Jesus has in a way an even higher purpose. He is in this Gospel more than

Messiah: He is the Son of God from all eternity; the Word-Made-Flesh, as the very

first chapter of John’s Gospel proclaims; concepts in some ways more akin to the

prevailing Greek thought and philosophy of the time than the Hebrew. Jesus, as

more than one commentator on this Gospel notes, is depicted as the Cosmic Christ

existing from all time in divine solitary grandeur. Yet made flesh.

And according to those same biblical scholars, our passage this morning from

Chapter Twelve of the Gospel of John, thus very nearly in the middle of the Gospel,

brings this truth of our Lord’s divine identity into full focus arguably for the first

time and represents at the same time a sort of transition not only in the Gospel’s

storyline but in our understanding of the life and death of our Lord as well. It

comes in other words as Jesus has entered the Holy City of Jerusalem on his

journey to Calvary and, as John would see it, his glorification in being lifted up

upon the Cross, so that he might “draw all people” to himself. Us included.

Out of nowhere, as our text begins, Greeks come forward and ask to see Jesus.

Now, it is strange though not unheard of that Gentiles should be found in

Jerusalem at such a holy time of year as Passover. But their presence in this

account as well as that of Philip and Andrew, the only disciples of Jesus with

Greek-sounding names, alerts us to a deeper reality; namely, that that which is to

happen to Jesus at the Cross is of worldwide importance, of importance in other

words to all humankind. Of cosmic significance.In response to the perfectly normal request of the Greeks to see him, our Lord

does not say, as I probably would have, “Great, meet me at the Arnoldo café at

two o’clock for coffee, and we’ll have a chat.” Yet as other scholars point out, if

the Greeks in question actually listened in to our Lord’s response to Philip and

Andrew, they did indeed get to see him; they did indeed get a glimpse into his

purpose and mission. We shall never know of course, for these Greeks keen to

know our Lord are never heard from again. Come to think of it: They are not unlike

untold millions of people over the centuries who have sought out our Lord as they

did and said, “We wish to see Jesus.”

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,” says Jesus in response to

Philip and Andrew; about as succinct a summary of the Gospel of John as you will

find. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” For, if the Christ of

John’s Gospel is the Son of God made flesh, his purpose in dwelling among us is

that all humankind should glorify him; or perhaps better said, come to know him in

his glory and thereby share in it. And that glory comes paradoxically in the death

of Christ; in his being raised up upon the Cross. Like a grain of wheat, explains

Jesus, we must each die in order to live and bear much fruit.

“Those who love their life lose it,” proclaims Christ yet again, “and those who hate

their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” If anyone wishes to really see

Jesus, that person must come to understand this truth, a truth which is here

confirmed by a voice from heaven glorifying our Lord’s name. All of life, the

infinite and eternal, affirm in this voice that this Jesus in his death and resurrection

is about to lift up this realm of the fleeting and mundane to that of the lasting and

numinous. To know this is indeed to see Jesus in all his glory. And in the flesh.

We wish to see Jesus. I have read that this line of Scripture can be found engraved

in stone or brass on the pulpits of many ancient Churches, reminding the preacher

of her or his duty to proclaim the glorified Christ. I must admit I have never seen

this for myself; but then as a more or less generic parish priest I have not ever been

privileged to preach in ancient churches or cathedrals. But in any case, it occurs to

me that such a brass plaque, if such exist, might better be placed at the doors of

the Church, reminding the people as they depart that the world outside church,

Greeks, Hungarians, Africans, North Americans, Brits, and all the others, still wish

to see Jesus.

And they can only ever see him in the flesh: In us.


The Revd Canon Dr Frank Hegedűs

1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page