Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Verses 30-36 of our Gospel reading from John 12 are very interesting to me. Here Jesus tells how he is going to die. The people ask him how he can say he will die since the Messiah remains forever. Jesus tells the people to believe on him.
First, it should not have been a mystery or a surprise to anybody when Jesus was executed. He had spoken of it, several times, openly. His disciples had heard, though they didn't remember. Despite not remembering his specific words they should also have been able to understand that Jesus cared about them more than he cared about his own life. He consistently showed himself as the one who humbles himself for the benefit of others. Although Jesus spoke of his coming death on several occasions, though, they didn't remember. It came as a surprise.
Second, the people had been reading the Scriptures. They understsood Jesus to be the Messiah. They also understood that the passages which tell about the Messiah said he would remain forever. These were not biblically illiterate people. Jesus' audience included inquiring people who had searched the Scriptures. They had paid attention in synagogue and the discussions of the elders. They had a very valid question.
The problem of the Messiah remaining forever alongside the Messiah dying is resolved in only one way. He has to be raised from the dead to eternal life, or he is not the Messiah. That's exactly what Jesus was promising to do.
The crowd heard Jesus say that he is the light of the world, and that he will be with them, at least for a while. What did they do about it? They didn't believe, despite Jesus' repeated calls that people should trust him.
The same situation abounds in our world today, though it doesn't seem that people have as good a concept of what biblical theology would say about the Messiah or about Jesus' claims. Jesus is still the Messiah. He is still the one who laid down his life. He is still the one who remains forever, since he was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven. He is still the light of the world, making sense of it for all who will believe. The question we need to ask is whether we will believe him or whether we want to walk in darkness so as to avoid the inconvenient conclusion that he is God and we are not. His claims remain there for us to examine and reach a conclusion.
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