Thursday 14 March 2024

Let it grow

“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

The gospel of John tells a story of two Greeks, visiting Jerusalem for the Passover festival, who come to see Jesus. Literally, it seems. They very politely ask one of the disciples, who asks another and they go and tell Jesus. You know how that happens: when you want to meet a celebrity, you have to get past their entourage or security. You might even need a backstage pass or something like it to get into the “meet and greet” that’s your opportunity to meet this famous person face to face, shake their hand, maybe even get a selfie.

Except, I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. Not for us, anyway. Jesus is definitely a celebrity by now. John places this story after Jesus’ big arrival in Jerusalem that we now call Palm Sunday and before his arrest. As John tells it, this is Jesus’ last public words. So I think it’s safe to say that these people had heard of Jesus. Foreigners, likely not Jewish, who’d heard about the signs, the healings, the preaching and came to see for themselves what this is all about.

They might well have said “show us Jesus.”

I have to think that’s why the author of John includes these characters. Either the author then left out a paragraph - the one where Jesus says “hi, how are you, I’m Jesus” - or they’re incidental filler and seemingly ignored or: there’s something else going on here, something reflected in how Jesus answers. 

“Show us Jesus.” Jesus answers that it’s time, then, time to be “glorified.” I don’t think Jesus means that his death will be glorious or that he’ll shine in a Transfiguration-like moment, but rather that something will come of his life, something greater than these moments of love, healing, compassion and grace that he’s lived. Jesus changed lives he touched, but that’s only the beginning: he’s a seed that’s been planted.

And that’s exactly what he tells them. The seed must be planted, it must be nourished and grow in order that there is fruit. He’s planted the seed of love and showed us that the divine spirit and human soul that is him is in us, too. It’s not about Jesus the person, it’s Jesus the Way, Jesus the spirit, Jesus the love. It’s the Jesus that’s in all of us. That’s what Jesus has shown all of us. 

Every now and then, people wonder what Jesus would make of the world today. The classic is “what would Jesus say if they were to show up at church on a Sunday morning?” I think they’d look around the room, look everyone in the eye and say “show me Jesus.”