Thoughts on John 12:20-36

by Jacob Juncker

It is the final week before Jesus’ crucifixion and he sees it  coming.  In this passage we see Jesus speaking about his death.  Now I know that this may seem heretical to some, but I’m not certain that Jesus, God incarnate, came to dwell among us just to die.  I think Jesus’ primary purpose on earth was to show us life abundant (c.f. John 10:10).

 There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus came to save us from our sinful lives, but I don’t necessarily believe that Christ had to die.  Nevertheless, it was our sins—our turning away from God—that led to the crucifixion.  And, just when it looked like our sins had conquered even God—Jesus rose from the dead as if to say, “even the vilest of things you do cannot keep me from being near and loving you.”

We all do stupid stuff.  We are all “very far gone from original righteousness, and [by our] own nature inclined to evil and that continually” (from “Article VII—Of Original or Birth Sin” in “The Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church” in The Book of Discipline—2008, p.61).  Yet, God still loves us.  God still makes the presence of God known in all the world.

 Have you ever done something “stupid” only to find that God was there in the midst of what you had done—loving you all the more?

As we approach Good Friday, we are reminded that evil, sin and darkness are more real than we often want to admit.  We are entering the final days before Jesus’ death.  The world is getting dark.  Indeed, “the light is with you for a little longer.  Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you.  If you walk in darkness, you do not know where you are going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light” (John 12:35-36).

As Lent draws to a close the days will get darker.  Death will be near.  In just a few days, when Christ is yet again put upon the cross, the world will go dark (c.f. Matthew 27:45).  But remember, the night is darkest just before the dawn.  And I promise you, the dawn is coming.  “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else  in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

“O God, your glory is always to have mercy.  Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.”

From The United Methodist Book of Worship (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1992), No. 334 (p. 331)