Pastor Michael Frye:
In our gospel for today some Greeks approach Philip and say: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
Who in the congregation today knows where that phrase can be found in this church?
That’s right, every time the pastor steps into the pulpit, he/she walks past a plague containing those words: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
It is both a challenge and a reminder to the preacher who it is that is to be represented in the words that are spoken.
Years ago, when the Betty Crocker company first began selling their cake mixes, they offered a product which only needed water.
All you had to do was add water to the mix which came in the box, and you would get a delicious cake every time.
The problem was that no one was buying the product, so the company did a study to find out why.
It turns out that people weren’t buying the cake mix because it was TOO easy!
They wanted to feel that they were contributing something to the making of the cake.
So, the company changed the formula requiring that the consumer add an egg.
Lo and behold, it was a great success!
Sometimes, Christian theologians and preachers try to present the call to come to Jesus as easily as they can because they are afraid that people won’t respond if it seems too difficult.
But that isn’t the way Christ saw it.
Before he spoke with the Greeks who had come to see him, Jesus Reminded Philip and Andrew:
“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.”
Just as it is true of grains and seeds, Jesus was making it clear to them:
First, that he must himself die in order to bring new life to the world; secondly, all who follow him must also be willing to devote their lives fully to serving the God of their salvation.
Now comes a saying of Jesus that many find it hard to comprehend:
“Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”
Hate my life?
Why in the world must it come to that for me to able to have life in eternity?
First of all, we need to understand what it is that Jesus is communicating with those words.
He is saying that I must not live a life hyper-focused on me; what I want; what I hope to get out of life.
St. Paul understood the meaning of Jesus’ words when he said in Acts 20:24:
“But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.”
John Piper expressed it this way:
“Don’t take much thought for your life In this world.
“If men speak well of you, it doesn’t matter much.
“If they hate you, it doesn’t matter much.
“If you have a lot of things, it doesn’t matter much.
“If you have little, it doesn’t matter much.
“If you are persecuted or lied about, it doesn’t matter much.
“If you are famous our unheard of, it doesn’t matter much.
“If you have died with Christ, these things just don’t matter much.”
Jesus calls us not just to endure in this life but to make the choice to follow him:
“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.
Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”
To follow Jesus means that we must be prepared to put everything on the line, even to give up our lives for his sake.
His cross has become our cross to carry and to proclaim so that all may come to know and believe in him.
We often sing these words:
“As the grains of wheat, once scattered on the were gathered into one to become our bread; so may all your people from all the ends of earth be gathered into one in you”, which means that not only do each of us individually give our lives in service to our Lord, but also all of us in this place and in all places are gathered in Christ’s name and for Christ’s sake.”
Also in this gospel passage we find that Jesus prays to his Father in heaven:
“Now my soul is troubled.
“And what should I say – Father save me from this hour?
“It is for this reason that I have come to this hour.
“Father, glorify your name.”
Jesus is at this point giving himself up, as a grain of wheat submits to the earth; he is saying, “Father, I am ready to die to glorify you name.”
And his Father responds:
“I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
No one in the crowd comprehends what this noise from heaven is saying, but they know that it is a divine proclamation and that something unexpected is about to happen.
“This voice has come for your sake, not mine.
“Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world (meaning Satan) will be driven out.
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
This is Christ’s promise that all of God’s faithful people who are scattered throughout the earth will be gathered into one praising God and witnessing to the salvation that our Lord, Jesus Christ, has won for us through his suffering, death, and resurrection.
Now it is up to us as to when and how we live out our faith on behalf of our Lord and Savior.
You would probably have to be my age or older to recognize the name Gracie Allen.
Gracie played the rather scatterbrained wife of her real-life husband George Burns in a comedy show in the early years of television.
In one show, Gracie called a repairman to fix her electric clock.
It didn’t take the repairman long to figure out the problem.
“There’s nothing wrong with this clock; you didn’t have it plugged in!”
Gracie replied, “I don’t want to waste electricity, so I only plug it in when I want to know what time it is.”
According to Pastor King Duncan, that’s the way some Christians live out their faith journey.
They go about unplugged and wonder why their lives are so devoid of power.
Christian faith is not something that we can plug in when it is convenient or becomes necessary.
It may cost us in the way of time, energy, and personal sacrifice; but it has to be lived out daily with conviction and a sense of purpose.
That is why it is important for us to gather together in worship so we can pray for and support one another as we witness in this community.
It is also important that we provide opportunities for learning and service, not only in this place but throughout the world so that others may come to know and love the Lord.
As those who love the Lord we have much to do, and plenty to say, on our Lord’s behalf.
So, how will you respond the next time someone comes up to you and says: “Sir, Ma’am, we wish to see Jesus?”
May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.