Jesus’ final week was, among other things, a great Summing Up—his way of emphasizing one last time what really matters. In today’s reading, Jesus linked life (the seed) and light to describe himself, the same two words John used in the Prologue to his Gospel (1:5). It is a linkage that began in Creation, where light engendered all of life, across the spectrum, from the smallest particle to the farthest star.
Light enlivens. As the light of the world (John 8:12), the Word was the light of all people (John 1:4). The desire of the Greeks to meet with Jesus is John’s way of pointing this out. As the incarnation of God—as the universal Christ—Jesus did indeed draw all people to himself.
We live in a God-saturated cosmos. The light gives life to everyone coming into the world (John 1:9). No one is bereft of this light. Nothing in all creation is without it. And because the light is in us, we are drawn, as the Greeks were, to light wherever we find it.
Light also exposes. In the verse just before the beginning of today’s reading (12:19), the Pharisees are deeply troubled that “the whole world” has gone after Jesus—instead of after them. As light, Jesus exposed the failures of the religious/political system they had built—a system that worked to their advantage. Jesus’ light exposed all that, and they didn’t like it—not one bit. System builders never do like it. They push back whenever light reveals that their status quo has become a sacred cow.
To walk this Holy Week journey just like John is to walk in the light as Jesus did (see 1 John 1:7), and, like Jesus, it is to become light and life for others.
Dear God, bring us into the light to the extent that we become light. Amen.
The readings for Holy Week focus our attention on the sacrifice made by the Messiah. The prophecies in Isaiah speak of it. Psalm 22 tells of confidence in God even in the midst of betrayal and suffering like that experienced by Jesus. In First Corinthians Paul describes crucifixion as the center of our teaching as Christians. We follow these events through the eyes of the Gospel writer John. Jesus foreshadows his death in multiple ways, but even his closest followers struggle to understand and accept its meaning. Why would the Son of God experience such alienation and suffering? It is all for us, the ultimate work of love. But then he conquers the grave! Praise be to God!
Read John 13:21-32. When have you noticed darkness planting seeds of betrayal in your heart? How did you follow Jesus’ light?
Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35. What status symbols do you hold on to that keep you from following Jesus’ example of humble service?
Read Isaiah 52:13–53:12. On Good Friday, God enters into human suffering. When have you felt God’s presence in your suffering?
Read John 20:1-18. How has Christ found you?
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