Do People Really Want to See Jesus?

Sometimes the answers just don’t seem to fit the questions. At least that’s how it appears. Maybe we don’t quite understand the question, and therefore cannot grasp the answer. Maybe we are simply being redirected in our thinking. Which of these is going on in John 12:20-26?

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

“Some Greeks” wanted to see Jesus. That should come as no surprise; after all, who in the region would not have been aware that the man by that name had become something of a sensation? Wanting to see Jesus may have been no more than wanting to rub elbows with a celebrity, something to tell the folks back home. It could also have been an honest desire to meet and speak with and learn from the one whose words as well as his actions had people taking. This is plausible, in light of the fact that they were there to “worship at the feast” (a curious enough phrase in itself for many of us). In any event, the Greeks came to Phillip, who went to Andrew, who accompanied the former to speak to Jesus about the request.

But the only answer given seems to be given to Phillip and Andrew, the Greeks no longer being mentioned. And it is an answer that only vaguely answers the situation. My hunch is that Jesus is referring to the desire to see him, a desire which is about to be fulfilled in an as yet unanticipated way. Once he is glorified, which is connected to his being “lifted up” in the succeeding passage, he will draw not only a few Greeks, but everyone to himself. But not yet. Had Jesus been seen at this point by those outside the small circle of followers they would have taken word of an odd but charming miracle-worker back to their own context. And that’s not God’s intent for the one we would know as Lord.

The necessity of Jesus’ death to his saving mission is again underscored in this response. The kernel of wheat must be placed in the ground to fill its purpose. It’s something we recognize as necessary for our salvation; do we see it as readily as a pattern for our own lives of discipleship? Are the followers of Christ content to sing songs thanking Jesus for what he has done to save their skin and/or their souls without a death of their own? Do we wish to draw others to ourselves on any terms, even if it is without the message of the cross which we are to take up in our following of Jesus?

To be blunt, I have had my fill of people saying in one breath that “it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus,” and in the next breath singing songs that are about themselves and how they feel. Maybe we want a Jesus who dies, but not a self that follows him there.

Or maybe I’m just an old crank. What do you think?

One thought on “Do People Really Want to See Jesus?

  1. Specifically regarding the songs we sign….

    As we look back through the history of The Church and the songs that were present during great moves or awakenings…you can see the music reflective of the move.

    During the reformation period there was an awakening to the church that the message of the gospel was for the people, that the Word was meant for the people, and that ultimately we are saved by Grace. We have great hymns of the Church as A Mighty Fortress is Our God & May God Bestow on Us His Grace. Hymns such as these were also written so that those who did not possess the written word could easily hear, learn, and memorize its truths.

    During The Great Awakening in the early 18th century, we see people like Edwards, the Wesley (moved by the Moravians), & Whitefield bringing elements of “personal testimony” and fervent teaching of the reality of the Gospel of the Kingdom with songs like When I Survey the Wondrous Cross – speaking of the “personal testimony of what Christ did for me. Or the early 1900’s hymn I Have a Friend Who Loveth Me” by Niles Frykman sings quite frankly about what Jesus does for me.

    I know I’m jumping some time-gaps here….

    When you come to the “Jesus Movement” of the 70’s you see a movement in the Church that, like the movements prior, was a direct correlation to that which was happening in the culture. In this time, we see songs coming from the church like Your Love, Oh God, Is Broad by Frostenson. Many church leaders thought the hymns people sang should speak of the things they knew and understood. The thinking was that theological words like justification, salvation, and sin didn’t have clear meaning for many people. They tried to write hymns that used imagery within the context of people and their daily lives…

    Although, as I write this, I realize this “problem” of hymn-ology vs theology is really only a problem within the “western” church….in that, when we visit a Christian church in China or Bhutan – their songs are vibrantly potent with the reality of Jesus and the presence of the Kingdom……

    Overall, what I am trying to establish is that as God moves and His people move with Him, the music directly reflects the heart of the Father in the revelation through the people….starting out with the reformation in that their hymn-ology was a direct result of experiencing the truth of scripture in a new personal way….singing about God. Then through The Awakening(s) where we see songs that sing to God…and lastly, we are beginning to see songs in The Church that, in effect, are singing with God.

    Each phase equally as important, real, and true. For The Lord seeks those who worship Him this way – in Spirit and in Truth. And, while there were certainly no shortage of arguments against the hymns in any age of The Church, there will continue to be such as The Church follows the Heart of The Father.

    As new songs and hymns are introduced through The Body, we as members, need to embrace them with as much favor as we do the “old”, since they have all come from the same Father’s Heart.

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