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I will gather them around me

March 17, 2024 - Rev. Dr. Jan Remer-Osborn

John 12:20-23

I feel the intensity rising as we get closer to Holy Week.   There is a lot that has recently happened.  Chapter 11 told the story of the raising of Lazarus, which caused the council (also known as the Sanhedrin) and the high priest to plot Jesus’ death.

Chapter 12 opens with the story of Mary anointing Jesus at Lazarus’ home, an anointing which Jesus said was “for the day of my burial” (vs. 1-8). The chief priests are plotting to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus, because “it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus” (vs. 9-11).  The Pharisees said among themselves, ‘See how you accomplish nothing.  Behold the world has gone after him.”’  (vs.17-19)

The crowds surround Jesus and  the presence of the Greeks is not just a random event. Their visit indicates that the Pharisees’ comment was valid. “Look, the world has gone after him” (v. 19).  It may also have prompted Jesus’ emphasis In John 12:32  “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself,”  a clear reference to Gentiles.

Jesus announces, The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  The disciples basically freak out.   Jesus says confidently,

I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’”

A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.”  The listening crowd said, “Thunder!”

Others said, “An angel spoke to him!”

Jesus explains what this glory is and then says,

(v. 30-33)  “The voice didn’t come for me but for you. At this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out.  And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me. He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death.”

Jesus sees the whole word in crisis, with evil being its’ king.  He is not just talking about Judea, the Jewish people or local kings.  Jesus clearly defines the breadth of his mission.  It is the whole world.  He will gather everyone to him.  It is his attraction, his action, his holiness that brings people to him.  “Everyone" includes us.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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