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The drawing power of Jesus' self-giving death

April 8, 2023

Daily Scripture

John 12:20-26, 28-33; Mark 15:39; John 19:30

John 12

20 Some Greeks were among those who had come up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and made a request: “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” 22 Philip told Andrew, and Andrew and Philip told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Human One [or Son of Man] to be glorified. 24 I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their lives will lose them, and those who hate their lives in this world will keep them forever. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me. Wherever I am, there my servant will also be. My Father will honor whoever serves me.

28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
29 The crowd standing there heard and said, “It’s thunder.” Others said, “An angel spoke to him.”
30 Jesus replied, “This voice wasn’t for my benefit but for yours. 31 Now is the time for judgment of this world. Now this world’s ruler will be thrown out. 32 When I am lifted up [or exalted] from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (33 He said this to show how he was going to die.)

Mark 15

39 When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “This man was certainly God’s Son.”

John 19

30 When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed.” Bowing his head, he gave up his life.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

When Greeks asked to see Jesus, Jesus said he was about to be “glorified.” But he used “glorify” about what the Romans saw as the most humiliating death they could invent! As scholar William Barclay put it, “Jesus says: ‘The hour has come when the Son of Man must be glorified’…. Jesus did not mean by glorified what they understood. They meant that the subjected kingdoms of the earth would grovel before the conqueror’s feet; by glorified he meant crucified.” * Mark wrote, said scholar N. T. Wright, that “not the high priest, not a leading rabbi, not even a loyal disciple, but a battle-hardened thug in Roman uniform, used to killing humans the way one might kill flies, stands before this dying young Jew and says something which, in Mark’s mind, sends a signal to the whole world that the kingdom has indeed come.” ** Of John’s report of Jesus’ final words, Pastor Hamilton wrote, “I learned that in Greek the phrase is expressed in just one word: tetelestai. That word is a shout of victory announcing that a battle has been won, a mission accomplished…. God’s saving mission was finished.” ***

  • Moses asked, “Please show me your glorious presence” (Exodus 33:18), and God “passed in front of him and proclaimed: ‘The LORD! The LORD! A God who is compassionate and merciful, very patient, full of great loyalty and faithfulness’” (Exodus 34:6). In our world, “glory” usually means power or wealth. In what ways is God’s mercy, love, patience, and loyalty a greater kind of “glory”? The apostle Paul said Christ followers “even take pride in our problems” (Romans 5:3). Does your view of “glory” for your life lie mainly in strength and accomplishments that others admire? What has to happen inwardly for you to let God’s power transform your struggles or pain into “glory”? How can you learn, at times of struggle, to say like Jesus in John 12:28, “Father, glorify your name!”?

Lord Jesus, you said that when you were lifted up (on the cross), you would draw all people to you. You have drawn me. Now use me to shine YOUR glory to all in my world. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Sheree Reece

Sheree Reece

Sheree Reece and her family have been part of Resurrection for 25 years. She began her career in the corporate world, then joined the staff at Resurrection when she realized she wanted to spend more time reaching out to non-religious and nominally religious people in the Kansas City area. Sheree currently serves as the Global Missions Director. 

There are so many pithy sayings, like “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” “every cloud has a silver lining”–there are even memes for these. And yet, when you sit in these spaces, not knowing what is ahead, it can be heart wrenching. It’s the Saturday before Easter. The darkest day. A time filled with grief. Yet we have the incredible opportunity of seeing with hindsight. We know what happens.

Imagine if you are one of Jesus’s disciples. You gave up everything to follow this incredible man claiming to be the son of God, saying it is time for him to be glorified. You immediately think, “FINALLY! He will be crowned king. He will rule and we will rule with him.” And yet hours later, everything you worked for, everything you believed in, everything you changed your entire life for, is gone. Can you imagine what his disciples are feeling? Today, they are devastated. They are scared. They are adrift. Probably feeling abandoned. Their entire world is rocked. They have no idea that tomorrow is the resurrection. Tomorrow changes everything.

Years ago I wanted to be CEO of a major international business. At the time I didn’t care which one, I just had big goals and dreams. But one day, I heard (okay, not aloud, but knew inside my soul) that wasn’t what God had planned for me. I chose to follow Jesus and go wherever he led (which is apparently around the world)–but I have the power of hindsight. I know that Jesus died and was resurrected. I know that Jesus is God’s son. Aside: If you’ve not had a chance, I highly recommend reading “The Case for Christ,” by Lee Strobel (a former atheist). I can’t imagine what it was like for the disciples. They followed on blind faith–I have hindsight, history, evidence. I can’t imagine having given up my dreams and then going through Saturday, thinking it was all for nothing.

We get to follow an incredible God. A God who sent his only son to show us the way. A son that loves us so much he would die for us. He sent his son so that we would have hindsight. May we each live our lives thankful for this incredible gift. We know how the story ends. We get to spend eternity together filled with joy, light, and love. So, when you experience Saturday, don’t forget–Sunday is coming.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John—Volume 2. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, revised edition 1976, p. 123.)
** Wright, N. T., Mark for Everyone (New Testament for Everyone) (p. 215). SPCK. Kindle Edition.
*** Hamilton, Adam. John (p. 136). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.