Holy Week Bible Study – Tuesday – John 12:20-36

John 12:20-36 King James Version (KJV)

20 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast:

21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.

23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.

30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?

35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
There may be no more important time to look at this passage then during a time when we seem to be surrounded by death.  At the time of this writing, there are 368,449 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the United States, with 10,993 deaths.  Worldwide, so far there have been almost 75,000 deaths.
But you probably know the statistics – we can hardly get away from them.  They are screamed at us daily.
So now, here we are on Tuesday of Holy Week, and the scripture takes us to looking closely – not at 75,000 deaths – but 1 – that of Jesus – and trying to make some sense of it.
Jesus himself lights the way, no pun intended.
“While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.”
While darkness seems everywhere, Jesus illuminates the way forward for us, ironically, by dying.  It is the most counter-intuitive of teachings.  “If you would save your life, you must lose it, sacrificially , lovingly, selflessly – like me.”  That’s what Jesus calls us to do.
Now, that may mean we will literally lose our lives.  Like the brave first responders  who have given their lives caring for the sick and dying – sometimes – the cost of service is quite evident.  Other times, it may not be quite so obvious, or the cost quite so severe, but the basic truth remains.
To be a follower of Christ is to follow the One who did not hesitate to die that others might live.  There are so many different “flavors” of Christian expression – so many denominations and creeds – sometimes that basic truth is lost in the mix.
You cannot serve yourself and serve God – period.
On his way to his sacrificial destiny, Jesus called others to take up
their cross and follow him there.  Two thousand years later, he calls upon his followers to do the same.
Am I suggesting that you go unprotected, without thought, and throw yourself into harm’s way in the name of Jesus?  No, not at all.  We need to be thoughtful, and careful, in how we find ways to serve during these trying, social isolating, dangerous times.
But find a way we must.  That is, if we want to be known as Jesus followers.
So pick up a phone and call someone who is alone and isolated.  Write a letter – the mail services are still working.  Drop off a care box – perhaps even anonymously – on the doorstep of someone in need.  Learn how to make face masks and find a way to distribute them.  Find new strength to provide direct care, if you can do so safely, or find a way to support those who are providing such care.
Following Jesus in 2020 has taken a very direct, dramatic turn – taking up our cross daily – has very practical and life saving ramifications.
But that is nothing new.  Not really.  Being a point of light in a dark world is what it has always been about for Christ followers.  Or at least – that’s how it should be.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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