There is an odd little story tucked into a key transition place in the Gospel of John. It’s one of those stories that I’ve tried to understand for many years. It begins at John 12:20. Jesus is in Jerusalem for the last time. Some “Greeks” have asked to “see” Jesus. They approach Philip. Philip approaches Andrew. Then Andrew and Philip approach Jesus. But rather than say, “bring them in and let me meet them,” Jesus gives a reflective answer that speaks to a higher way of “seeing” Jesus.
Jesus says, “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.” I think Jesus is referring to his upcoming death on the cross and the community of believers who will respond to the invitation to “come AND see” by following AND ultimately believing in Him.
Do you recall the other time in John’s story when Andrew and Philip were prominent characters? They appeared back to back in chapter 1 bringing other key followers to Jesus. Andrew would reach out to his brother Simon (Peter) and Philip would reach out to Nathaniel – all Jews. In John’s Gospel, I wonder if we are to “see” the transition from Jews coming to Jesus to now Jews AND Gentiles as the fulfillment of the Pharisee’s inadvertent prophecy as Jesus rode into town, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the (whole) world has gone after Him!”
But is that all that is meant by “seeing” Jesus? The original invitation by Jesus in Chapter 1 was to “come AND see.” Come implies follow. But what does it mean to “see” Jesus? That is the deeper reflective question. I think we are invited to “see” a God who wishes for right relationship with God’s creation so much that God the Father sent God the Son to die on the cross at the hands of sinners.
In John’s Gospel, to “see” Jesus is to see the depth of the Father’s love and respond with belief – belief in Jesus – belief in God’s desire for a reconciled relationship with God’s sinful creation – belief in God’s ability to transcend all the limitations we “see” in this fleshly world that we live – belief in God’s ability to EVEN create within us a new creation through the power of the Holy Spirit working inside us throughout our entire lifetime. In Jesus’ death, believers “see” God’s life affirming promise fulfilled through the resurrection. Through the invitation to “come & see”, we are invited to abide in this promise.
One of my favorite questions that I love to ask people is, “Do you believe in Jesus the Christ?” I have found that just because someone has been in a church for decades, they may not have confronted that question – it’s more common than you think! It’s good to sing the songs, to come to worship, to participate in activities that help people in need, but it is LIFE GIVING to actually answer this question from the very center of your soul, “DO YOU BELIEVE IN JESUS THE CHRIST?”
That question is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. The answer to that question comes when you can “see” Jesus in this often-unsettling world. Are you just following or are you now seeing? Have you answered the question, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”
If you are genuinely wrestling with that question (regardless of your age or decades in the church), call me or email me. I would be honored to walk with you in that reflective, critically important, life giving conversation that Jesus has already begun in your heart. I believe it’s the most important question you will ever answer.