I have noticed something about reading books, especially novels…I tend to read quite slowly until about halfway and then get quicker and quicker. Presumably this is because at some level I am getting ever keener to discover what happens to the characters. I am beginning to care about the people in the story, and a skilful author drops subtle hints from the very beginning of a novel about where we are going to end up.
By going back to halfway in John’s Gospel, we find big clues about what is going to happen, clues that people struggled to understand in Jesus’ lifetime, and perhaps clues that people didn’t always pick up when they first came to read the Gospel. But the clues make sense to us, because we are on the other side of the story, we have read the end!
So, today’s reading follows on directly from yesterday’s – John 12 vv.20-36.
Jesus is being quite enigmatic here: seeds that die and bear fruit, glory at this hour of crisis, judgment and ‘drawing all people to myself,’ light and darkness. The clues point us to this week that is both a horrible week and a wonderful week. In it was are taken to the horrible cross where Jesus is ‘lifted up’ into death, and we are taken to the beautiful garden where Jesus is ‘lifted up’ into new life.
Once again, we find that John refuses to allow us to reduce Jesus to one dimension, either the seed that dies or the seed that bears fruit – Jesus is both. He is not just the crucified saviour but also the risen Lord. There is glory in the cross and glory in the resurrection. He is not just the resurrected Lord of Easter morning, but also the suffering servant of Good Friday.
Let us keep meditating on and praying about how we may be drawn ever closer to Jesus, crucified and risen; we are called to enter into him as he enters into us in the power of his Holy Spirit. This is not just a rational understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done, but a profound commitment of the whole of our lives to the whole of Jesus.
True and humble king, hailed by the crowd as Messiah: grant us the faith to know you and love you, that we may be found beside you on the way of the cross, which is the path of glory. Amen.