20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” What a simple request. Some people have heard about Jesus and want to see him. But to the disciples it wasn’t so simple. After all, these were Greeks, foreigners. Philip didn’t take them to Jesus. Instead, he told Andrew, and then they told Jesus about the men.
Jesus responds by talking about a seed dying. Was he talking about his upcoming death? Or was he also trying to help his disciples recognize that they were trying to hold tightly to the restrictions the Pharisees had placed on living their faith—keeping it to themselves, being exclusive rather than inclusive, refusing to be the blessing and light to the nations that God had called them to be?
What about us? Do we cling tightly to the way we’ve understood church to be, not allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us to welcome others not like us, perhaps even drawing support from others to justify our attitudes?
Or are we willing to let go of our traditions and wrestle with what it means to die to self, to allow the Holy Spirit to work within us? What would it look like if I unclenched my hands and let go of those things that I cling so tightly to? What if I allowed Jesus to truly have all of me—my time, my talents, my money, my biases, my traditions? What if during this Lenten season, I asked Jesus to burst through that hard shell I have created around myself and engender new growth in myself that would allow me to give recklessly and joyfully in his kingdom work?
Prayer: Lord, help me to unclench my hands and release all, absolutely all, that I cling to, save you alone, so that you can produce amazing, abundant new growth in me that welcomes everyone and leads them to you. Amen.
Patty Ford has been an RCA missionary for 35 years, focusing on Christian education and spiritual formation. She is currently serving in Beirut, Lebanon, with her husband, Peter.