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Personal aside to begin.
Inserting readings from John along with those from MM&L (Matthew, Mark and Luke), without any explanatory comment, seems to suggest that MM&L and John are both telling the same story about Jesus. This is a mistake. Don't get me wrong. I love John's Gospel. But John has - literally - a very different vision of Jesus - wants us to "see" Jesus - in a way that is very different than MM&L. We do need to preach John's vision - raise it up, if I may borrow a phrase. But we should NOT harmonize it with MM&L. Instead, we need to have two good eyes/ears, and use both of them to see John's vision, and to hear MM&L's proclamation as they contrast and complement one another in a way that holds us in irresolvable tension - "irresolvable tension," also known as "mystery."
Malina understands "some Greeks" to be Hellenistic Israelites, that is, Jews who were living outside of Judah, but would make the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover.
Note the implied "pecking order:" they first talk to Philip, who then goes to Andrew, and then the two of them go to see Jesus. Recall that back in Chapter 1, verses 35 to 40 that Andrew was one of the first two disciples to follow Jesus. The next day in Galilee, Jesus calls Philip. Thus Andrew has precedence over Philip.
Until now, Jesus' hour had not yet come, but with the request of these Greeks, Jesus now says, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." Recall that in John, the emphasis is on Jesus being "raised up," and "glorified;" not on his dying.
Verse 24 is one of 5 "unless" statements by Jesus in John about the requirements of discipleship:
- Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without (or, "unless") being born from above." John 3:3 (NRSV)
- So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53 (NRSV)
- Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24 (NRSV)
- Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." John 13:8 (NRSV)
- Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. John 15:4 (NRSV)
Verse 25. Note John's themes of contrasting hate and love; this world and eternal life. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke the reference is to losing one's life for Jesus' sake and the sake of the gospel. (For example, our reading for Lent 2, Mark 8:31-38.)
Verse 26. Jesus' demands for his "followers" are that they bond with him and be loyal to him as a slave or servant would be. Thus, they will be where he is. By demonstrating their loyalty to and honouring of Jesus in this way, God will then, in turn, honour them.
Verse 27. Note the contrast with Matthew, Mark, and Luke where Jesus does indeed pray, "Father, save me from this hour." But in John, the whole point is for Jesus to be raised up so that God might be glorified. "Father, glorify your name," for John is the same as Jesus saying, "Father, raise me up (on the cross)."
Verse 28. Unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke which tell of Jesus' baptism and transfiguration and in which a voice from heaven says, "This is my Son, the Beloved," in John, the only heavenly voice is heard here. The voice assures Jesus that indeed, as has been done in the past, God will glorify God's name, with public deeds demonstrating God's honour. That is, Jesus' crucifixion will not just be his death; God's honour will be shown and seen.
There is a deliberate pun in John about the "raising" of Jesus - on the cross; and from the grave. In the first, the rulers of this world are shown to powerless; in the second, death is shown to be powerless.
The crowd here's the noise from the sky, but not the words. They try to interpret it: thunder; angels speaking? (Note that the voice Jesus heard was not an angel, it was the direct voice of God. It is quite amazing to hear an angel speaking to Jesus - that would be quite an honour; but the crowd could not imagine God speaking to Jesus - the highest possible honour of all.)
Verse 31. Note that "Now" is the judgment. The hour has come, now is the time.
Chapter 12 concludes the preface to the main event in John: the raising up of Jesus. Of the 21 chapters totaling 878 verses, John devotes 9 chapters and 293 verses - that is, about 35% - to the events of the Last Supper, arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection. The time has indeed arrived.