Today’s Scripture: John 12:20-33
20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ (NRSV)
This opening conversation records one of the first signals of a relationship that was offered not only to the Jewish community, but to the broader Gentile world: Greek seekers want to meet Jesus Christ, and the gift of a Messiah becomes a clear availability. Jesus had already encountered serious resistance from the Jewish population, and his redemptive care is about to be understood as available to anyone who will follow.
Christ never forced himself upon people, and love never breaks down doors of opposition. The One who “stands at the door and knocks” is always waiting for an invitation into our life. He will not barge in because he honors our selfhood—and our privacy. He will also return and knock again, and if we close the door, there will always be others who seek his presence and saving care. His healing capacity impresses the “outsider” enough to inquire about him and to hope for a relationship. There is, in fact, no one left “outside” the circle, and his presence is available to all. So we, if we follow him, will be transformed to become inclusive in our love. Every day.
A sobering, incisive truth follows: to follow him is to reverse the myth that controls each of us. If we spend our lives focusing on and caring only for ourselves, we miss life. A stirring secret of Christian discipleship is that to “die” to our selfish instincts and offer ourselves in care to others, even at the point of risk and harm, is to love as Jesus Christ came to do—and did. To follow Christ means to work on “putting on” this life-changing garment of focus on others. Such practice will only enrich us with, not rob us of, abundant life. Yet Christ, as we are now, also confessed that at times he was “troubled” by such painful sacrifice. We understand; it’s not easy to place the care of others ahead of our own.