5th Sunday of Lent

Gospel Lesson: John 12:20-33

Key Verse: [Some Greeks came to Philip] and made a request: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip told Andrew, and Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

Why Philip? We are accustomed to thinking that Peter, James, and John are the disciples closest to Jesus. If we were asking to see Jesus, we would go to one of them. Perhaps the Greeks were unfamiliar with the hierarchy of Jesus’ disciples. Maybe they had met Philip somewhere. And why did Philip go to Andrew before going to Jesus? In John’s gospel, it is Andrew who hears Jesus and follows, inviting Peter to come and see. Philip, we are told, comes from Bethsaida, the home of Andrew and Peter. Perhaps the Greeks, lost among the crowd that was following Jesus, went to the first disciple they could reach. Perhaps they were afraid that, as Greeks, their request might be ignored. We don’t know why they wanted to see Jesus. The mystery of how the good news spreads in the world is not logical, based upon information. Rather, it is a haphazard network of connections that are not obvious, not sensible. If those who receive the request insist upon knowing the why, how and when from those who want to see Jesus, the network breaks down. If the disciples fail to take the request to Jesus, the Greeks have no chance to see him. As disciples, even those who think of ourselves as minor players in Jesus’ ministry, we must be willing to take those who want to see Jesus to him, without erecting barriers based upon human distinctions or concerns. Without Andrew following Jesus, there might have been no Peter, the rock upon whom Jesus’ church is built. Who knows what Jesus might do with the Greeks who ask to see him?


Meditation/Call to Action

  • Although we seldom have someone ask to see Jesus, we are often in relationships where people’s longings become apparent. Sometimes, we ourselves want to see Jesus. What might be the ways we can see Jesus, and help others to see Jesus in ways that are genuine and true to the gospel message?
  • Think about the people who have helped us see Jesus. Perhaps they were Sunday School teachers, relatives, or neighbors who heard our spoken or unspoken request. What have we learned from them which will help us bring people to see Jesus?


Open our eyes, O God,

            that we may see Jesus for ourselves.

Open our ears

            to hear the people who come asking to see Jesus.

Open our hearts,

            that the Good News may continue to spread throughout the world,

            from age to age,

            from generation to generation. Amen.


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