Fifth Sunday in Lent: March 25                                      

John 12:20-33

            Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

             Jesus answered them, “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. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

             “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. Father, glorify your name.”

            Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

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            What is the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion? Many Christians would immediately respond that the crucifixion means forgiveness of their sins, and that is certainly true. But when we look at a passage like John 12:20-33, we see that Jesus’ death accomplished more than our personal salvation. The crucifixion signaled the judgment of the world: the corrupt system that is based on big money and big power. The author of Colossians captured both the individual and the corporate dimensions of the crucifixion when he wrote: “Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s Cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets.”  (Col 2:14-15, The Message). Through his death, Christ not only made forgiveness possible for us as individuals, but he also vanquished the world system with all its greed and violence and political silliness. That may be hard to believe sometimes, but God promises that it is true.

Thank you God for both the personal

and the corporate meanings of Jesus’ death.

Rev. Scott Thayer,

Bethany Memorial Church and Chaplain of Bethany College

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