Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. John 12:20-26(NLT)
It was a simple enough request; it’s hard to understand why Philip just didn’t take the Greeks to Jesus.
This passage has always seemed to me a microcosm of what is sometimes the biggest problem we have in the church – an “organizational-bog” nightmare. The travelers who came to Jerusalem wanted to see Jesus, so they made their request to one of the organization’s insiders, Philip. Philip turned it into a committee project, telling Andrew, and together they brought it to Jesus, chair of the board, for approval.
Jesus’ answer must have confused the disciples, because he didn’t give them an answer they could take back to the delegation who wanted to meet the carpenter from Galilee. Instead, with a wistful look in his eyes, Jesus starts talking about seed-planting and harvests, loving and hating life, and servants his Father will honor.
How could the disciples make sense of responses like these in the face of an important request to which the board must give an answer? Was the chairman losing it?
One day, more than thirty years ago, our youngest daughter, Carrie gave me an answer to that question. Think wide-open baby blue eyes, blonde pigtails and a smile that melts even the coldest heart. She was only three, and overheard Elizabeth and I talking about the bills, and my whining about how there just wasn’t enough money this month. Carrie went to her room and then showed up at the table where I’d been agonizing over the budget. “Here, Daddy, you can use my money.” She held up a pudgy little opened hand containing three pennies.
The answer to my money woes was not to be found in the income and outgo of a budget and checkbook, but a different way of thinking about God’s supply and demand. I had been thinking in terms of “covering the bills” while my child understood the greater principle of how love gives everything.
And that’s what Jesus was talking about to Andrew and Philip. They were concerned about the schedule of appearances and whether Jesus would have time to meet another request on his time. But Jesus wanted them to lift their eyes higher to a cross and the sacrifice of the ages.
Jesus knew you don’t build a kingdom with tweet-followers, elections or donations; it’s a matter of making yourself available for God’s altar.
It’s a good principle to remember today (and always) when you get a somewhat confusing answer…God’s ways are a little higher than yours. When it doesn’t seem to make sense, look up!