We wish to see Jesus–notes toward a homily for Lent 5, year B

I didn’t write a sermon this week, but I did celebrate the 5:00 St. Francis House Eucharist this evening, so I had to come up with something to say. As I thought about today’s gospel, I was intrigued by the question of encountering Jesus in the text. Greeks come to Philip and say, “We wish to see Jesus.” Philip goes to Andrew, and together, the two of them go to Jesus. There’s no word whether the Greeks accompanied them, and if Jesus’ words offer any clue, it would seem that they are not among those whom Jesus addresses. They leave the scene, or the drama leaves them behind. They do not “see Jesus.”

A little later, a voice comes from heaven and says, “I have glorified you and I will glorify you again.” It’s not clear who understands these words. For some in the crowd, it sounds like thunder. Others think an angel is speaking to Jesus. Presumably Jesus (and the gospel writer?) hear and understand the voice.

Think about it. The Greeks don’t see Jesus; onlookers don’t hear or comprehend the voice from heaven. Efforts to make sense of Jesus fail. Efforts to see, hear, even know Jesus, fail.

The passage concludes on a different note. It’s the verse I quoted in my sermon last week: “And when I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself.” Even if our efforts fail, Jesus beckons us, pulls us toward him, draws us to him. Whatever our efforts, it’s Jesus’ power, drawing us, drawing all of humanity to him, that makes the difference.

I doubt that’s anything close to what the gospel writer had in mind with this passage, but the contrast is quite dramatic.

I suspect there’s a pretty powerful sermon in here. Too bad it will have to wait until 2015.

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