John 12:20-33Now 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.
There are several firsts in this gospel passage from John. For the first time it is recorded that some Greeks ask about Jesus. This could be an indication that Jesus and his message of salvation is a message not for just the Jews but also a message for gentiles. That is you and me. Salvation is for all of us.
This is also the first time that Jesus tells us his hour has come where he will sacrifice himself for us. He tells us that it has to happen this way. He has to die. I do not pretend to know why. Jesus uses the analogy of the seed dying, and producing much abundant fruit. We, brothers and sisters are that fruit. Jesus died for all of us regardless of our race or national origin. It doesn't matter whether we are male or female, black or white, republican or democrat (I guess that would be red or blue). He sacrificed for us all.
Jesus tells us this salvation comes with expectations. He says, “Those who love their life will lose it and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” So if I love my life its a bad thing. If I hate my life it's a good thing. That is a hard passage to swallow. Especially that word hate. After all isn't Jesus always about peace and love. Now, at least in this reading Jesus is talking about hate. Not just hate but hating my life. In Luke CH. 14 goes even further. He says we must hate our mother, father and brother and sister. And yet, did he not tell us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This is confusing.
Well, here is the way I see it. The gospels were translated from the Greek language. The actual Greek word for hate in this passage is miseo. Although it can be translated to mean hate, it has other meanings as well. It can also be translated to mean leave behind, to let go or to love less than. Jesus is telling us to not be attached to the things of this world because they will all pass away. You must be able to let go.
Have any of you ever seen the television show Hoarders. I really don't know why I watch it but sometimes I do and every time I do I just cringe. However, it does inspire me to get rid of some of my stuff. To fill some of you in on what the show is about, here is a brief description. Professional organizers and psychologists are invited into an individual's home usually by a close relative.
The people who live in these homes are hoarders. Often times they have so much stuff that they only have paths in their homes to get from one place to another. The people in this show save everything. Many even save food wrappers and they have an excuse for not letting go of anything and everything. Most of the people on the show are very intelligent and many hold down good jobs. But, they cannot let go.
These people are an extreme example of someone who is literally attached to everything. We all have attachments of one kind or another. It may be a particular vice such as eating too much candy or drinking too much soda. You can use your imagination.
Lent is the time of year when we examine ourselves and we think about letting go of whatever has gotten in the way of us developing a closer relationship with God. It could be the food we eat. It could be a favorite past-time. It could be a particular television show. I ask you to reflect on the things you are doing in your life this week and decide for yourself if you need to let something go so that you can have a closer relationship with God.