March 21, 2021

Does seeing make any difference?

Does seeing make any difference?

One of my favourite Bible stories is the group of Greeks who find the disciples and then announce that they want to see Jesus. It’s such a reasonable request. They seek out – a man with the Greek name – Phillip. They have come to the Passover in Jerusalem along with tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of others. They are there to worship, to discover, to understand the religion. They are religious tourists, and enquirers. The raising of Lazarus was a turning point – so many were around, so many saw. And Jesus entering Jerusalem. And they were Greeks, known for their wisdom and thinking. This is new, people from far away, want to see him. Like the visit to the Vatican on Easter Day, which Joanna and I did on one occasion. The crows are heaving and a small group of Greek Jews come to seek out Jesus. There is a balance here with Matthew’s Magi who come just after Jesus’ birth, the wise of the world – the Greeks, come to find the Christ, now a man, just before his death. The Magi come having a sign from God in the heavens, the Greeks come having a sign from God on earth – the raising of Lazarus and the entry into Jerusalem just before this story. In no time at all another group would want to see Jesus. This was the arresting mob ready to take him by force, but without cameras, phones, photos or printed pictures – which one was he? That is why Judas was necessary. And Peter brings out a sword. John’s passion story talks of a man called Malchus. Those who have been following the Lent passion story on Zoom, will remember he was one of the mob who came to arrest Jesus, along with the High priest, but Peter sliced off his ear, and Jesus puts it back again. Do you want a sign that Jesus is who he says he is – well there’s a sign – a clear sign – so does the mob retreat, does it throw itself at Jesus feet in repentance, does it worship the God of creation. No, they get on with the job. Whatever the evidence of reality, whatever they see, their minds and hearts are made up. Truth does not matter, as it does not in many hearts and minds today. Jeremiah talks of a new covenant with God. The Jesus covenant. Things are going to be different. it is not a trade, an agreement between two sides anymore. It is all God’s doing. read it again. This is all God’s doing. So if you want to see Jesus you don’t have to look very far at all. We are here to see Jesus – in the bread, says Jesus, this is my body. Why do we treat it with care and love, because it represents the presence of Jesus inside us. We take in Jesus. And when I take a funeral of someone who has their faults, but who clearly loves, and trusts in God, then we see Jesus. I am humbled. In dark times I so want to see Jesus. if only we could see, if only the world could see it would change its ways. Well, they did see, but many were not changed. So they come and then Jesus knows, at last, his hour has come. Do you remember his words to Mary at the wedding in Cana of Galilee? My hour has not yet come, and twice more his hour is not yet come. But finally, it has arrived. When everyone can find Jesus in others, and in ourselves, in the bread and in the man who walks with us and leads us, day by day. See him, but open your heart to him as well. Amen.


John 12:20-33

Jesus predicts his death

20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’ 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.

27 ‘Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour”? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!’

Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, ‘This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up[a] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

Read full chapter


  1. John 12:32 The Greek for lifted up also means exalted.