22 March 2015

John 12:20-33

“Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.’” (v. 23)

Psalm: Psalm 51


Today's passage  picks up at least three themes that occur several times in the Gospel as a whole:

  • the coming hour
  • being glorified
  • being lifted up.

All of the themes are related to Jesus' saving work through his passion and death on the cross.

The theme of Jesus' "hour" is introduced in John 2:4, the story of the wedding at Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-11). When Jesus' mother points out that the hosts of the wedding feast have run out of wine, a matter of some concern and shame for them, Jesus replies, "What concern is that to you and me? My hour has not yet come." He then performs the sign of turning water into wine. His newly-called disciples see the sign and believe. Jesus' hour comes, as the Gospel eventually reveals, when the non-Jewish Greek visitors arrive (in today's passage). Perhaps they represent the gentile world seeking Jesus. From this point Jesus will prepare his disciples for his death.

The theme of being lifted up is introduced in John 3:14. 'As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up…". The reference is to Jesus' coming crucifixion. The work of salvation is accomplished when Jesus is lifted up on the cross and given over to suffering and death.

The concept of glory is also closely related to the cross. The glory of the Son of Man is revealed in the crucifixion. The Son of God, the eternal word, through whom the world came into being, comes to his own only to face rejection, scorn, or indifference by some, including those in power. The arrival of the Greeks who ask to see Jesus signals that his message is reaching the wider world. Now, the hour has come. When he is lifted on the cross, his glory will be revealed so that the whole world will be drawn to him.

To Ponder

  • What do you think is the significance of the detail that Greeks came to see Jesus?
  • What is your response to the connection of Jesus' glory with his suffering on the cross?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Cindy Wesley

Cindy Wesley is the director of studies at Wesley House in Cambridge. She is responsible for the life of the chapel and for advising students about their courses and modules.