Bible insights from your friends at La Jolla Lutheran Church

The mission of Jesus

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We continue our study of the Gospel of John. With the birth of Jesus, “the Word became flesh and lived among us.” During his life Jesus performed many signs; John records seven prophetic acts: turning water into wine (2:1-11), three acts of healing the sick and disabled (4:46-54, 5:1-8, 9:1-7), feeding the 5,000 (6:5-14), walking on water (6:16-24), and raising Lazarus from the dead. Surely, Jesus was the promised Messiah.

But what was to come of this Messiah? In the passage for this week’s study, Jesus speaks directly to the people about his fate and his true purpose.

Read the entire passage and then consider each day’s verses and commentary and questions. Add your own commentary and your own questions; Martin Luther taught us to let the Scripture speak directly to us and guide us from where we find ourselves in our lives at any moment.

Monday John 12:20
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.

Jesus had come to Bethany to be with his friends at an unsettled time. His signs had raised the fears of the religious and social leaders of Judea, and he was under the threat of arrest and likely execution. Yet, he continued to attract crowds of the devoted and the curious. Though not unusual for non-Jews to be drawn to the festival surrounding Passover, it is significant that John records the visit of “some Greeks.” Jesus was to die and be resurrected for the salvation of all people.

How do you greet those in your life who are curious about Jesus?

Tuesday John 12:23
Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

When told that those in the crowd wanted to see him, Jesus comes to a decision. Now is the time to fulfill his purpose, a purpose not yet understood by his followers. In the verses that follow, Jesus tries every which-way to explain what was about to happen and its significance. (Try 1) “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (12:24) (Try 2) “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (12:24) (Try 3) “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” (12:26) Finally, Jesus wearies and turns to his Father.

What must it have been like for Jesus to know his purpose and be so unsuccessful in helping people understand it?

Have you ever felt alone as you sought to fulfill an important purpose in your life?

Wednesday John 12:27-29
[Jesus said] “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

Jesus seeks his Father’s assurance. Even Jesus needs assurance.

Have you ever hesitated to seek God’s assistance or assurance? Why did you hesitate?

Thursday Daniel 7:13-14
[Daniel has a dream and a vision of the future] As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingdom is one that shall never be destroyed.

The Jews believed that a Messiah would come to them as a human being and would be given glory and dominion over all peoples. They believed that Jesus was that Messiah. Jesus knew that he was that human being. Thus, he called himself the “Son of Man.” Though this might oversimplify things, it becomes important in what Jesus says next to the crowd in Bethany.

Have you ever had a vision of the future, in a dream or otherwise? How has it affected your life?

Friday John 12:32-34
[Jesus said] “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”

Because the Jews knew the story of Daniel’s vision (Daniel 7:13-14), they believed that the Messiah would deliver them God’s promise here on Earth. They thought they had the Son of Man-thing figured out. Jesus had one more lesson to teach, one more sign to perform. That their Messiah would be “lifted up from the earth” and taken away from them was shocking news. They would soon experience the Resurrection and begin to understand God’s plan for Jesus as Son of Man.

When have you been surprised by Jesus? Was it good news … or bad news as the Jews thought of their surprise that their Messiah would be leaving them?

Saturday John 12:35-36
Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”

These verses might seem strange to us who know the end of the story, i.e., that Jesus’ death and resurrection would bring eternal light for those who believe in Him. Those to whom Jesus spoke, of course, did not know what was to come. And as Son of Man, maybe Jesus did not know the whole story. But as Son of God, he knew that those who believed would become “children of light.” He knew that the Son of Man would be glorified by God and trusted that it would fulfill God’s promise to creation.

What is God’s plan for you?

God, thank you for the Son of Man and his purpose in our lives. Amen