Signposts: Daily Devotions

Monday, March 28

Now 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.”
—John 12:20-21

This is the beginning of the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and his life. In this portion of John’s gospel, Jesus is in Jerusalem for Passover. His reputation and popularity have spread to the point that he is in danger. Roman authorities consider him a threat to their tenuous hold on law and order in Jerusalem, and the religious establishment considers him a threat to their way of doing things. 

But the Greeks who seek out Philip do not seem threatened at all. Instead, they are curious: just who is this man who has created such a stir? “Sir,” they say to Phillip, “we wish to see Jesus.”
That was two thousand years ago, but it is still a pertinent request. Think of the thousands of books written about Jesus, the movies, the seminars, the endless group discussions about this man from Nazareth. We are still saying, in essence, “We wish to see Jesus,” and it is a fascinating process.
In the twenty-first century, there are two distinct ways of “seeing” Jesus. Some see the cosmic Christ, the Savior of the World, raised to the right hand of God. Others see the historical Jesus, the Galilean peasant who caused such controversy and conflict as he taught and healed and preached about the inclusive Kingdom of God. I want to add a third category to ways of seeing Jesus—other people.
I think of a Methodist minister in our community who could be pastor of a huge congregation but has chosen instead to develop a community devoted to servant ministry. This man does not just talk about the Kingdom; he lives it. He offers courses in servant ministry; he has organized justice ministries.  He is quiet, unassuming—and charismatic.
I think about a beloved friend, a noted theologian and priest who has devoted his life to unraveling the mysteries of theology and philosophy. My friend is dying, but he has never been more alive. He accepts the inevitable without complaint; he receives visitors and gifts and cards with enormous gratitude. And he tells family and friends how much he loves them with the passion and strength of a young man.
Two men, one active and productive, one passive and dying, give me a better idea of who Jesus was, and is. If any Greeks should come to me asking to see Jesus, I know just where I’d send them.

Thank you, dear God, for people who help us to see Jesus more clearly; give us grace to follow their good example. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.