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COMMENTARYAGAPE BIBLE STUDYLECTOR TIPSVIDEOS

READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

5th Sunday of Lent (B)

OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

If a grain of wheat dies, it produces much grain

Gospel : John 22:20-33

  • The author of today’s Gospel is writing for a Greek audience.
  • Jesus’ response to some Greeks asking to see Jesus becomes a prediction of his death and glorification.
  • In the image of the grain of wheat that dies to produce life we see that God will be glorified in the death of Jesus.  Jesus will be exalted, drawing all persons to himself and thus to eternal life.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor

Scripture in Context

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Introductory

Visual Bible
by Stephen M. Miller

Advanced

Introduction to the New Testament
by Raymond E. Brown

Feasting on the Word

Jesus' restatement of the gospel in the stark terms

This discourse, introduced by the Johannine attention signal (Gk. amēn, amēn; NRSV “very truly”), is a restatement of the gospel in the stark terms of (1) embracing death, (2) hating life, and (3) following Jesus through death to life. These terms require interpretation.


1. The seed of grain must die before it can bear fruit (Jn 12:24). This concise parable will remind those who read the fourfold Gospel of various Synoptic parables involving seeds, growth, and fruit; but here the decisive point is that death must precede life. The seed that does not fall to the ground and die remains or abides alone—in contrast with the abiding of the Spirit with the believer (Jn 14:17) and of the believer and Jesus in each other (Jn 15:4–10), both of which imitate Jesus’ abiding in the Father’s love (Jn 15:11).
2. The person who “hates” his or her own life (psychē can mean soul, self, or life) will gain eternal life (Jn 12:25). Again, readers of the fourfold Gospel will recall parallels (e.g., Mark 8:35) on saving or losing one’s life. In John, the emphasis is on loving or hating one’s own life, which is identified as life “in this world.” The reader already knows that Jesus is on a mission in the world because God loves the world (Jn 3:16) and that the world does not recognize Jesus (Jn 1:30) but hates him (Jn 7:7). It is no good to love oneself or the world as alienated from God; the only good way to love either is to love them in Jesus, in whom they gain life through death. One must “hate” one’s own, and the world’s, alienation from God. Jesus is the first to actualize the “hatred” of life “in the world” that leads to eternal life.
3. The one who serves Jesus will be honored with Jesus by the Father (Jn 12:26). After resolving the “seed” of Jn 12:24 into an unspecified person (NRSV pluralizes: “those who …”) in Jn 12:25, Jesus here identifies that person as his would-be disciple, but then in Jn 12:27 (“Father, save me!”) indicates that he himself must give up life. Thus discipleship means following Jesus specifically through death to life, in reliance upon, and to the glory of, the Father. Readers of the fourfold Gospel will recall the exhortation to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus (Mark 8:34 and par.).

SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Christ-Centered Exposition

Jesus' kingdom and reign are unlike any earthly kingdom

Charles Ross Weed wrote a thought-provoking poem contrasting Jesus and Alexander the Great:

Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three, One died in Babylon and one on Calvary. One gained all for self, and one Himself He gave. One conquered every throne, the other every grave. When died the Greek, forever fell his throne of swords, But Jesus died to live forever Lord of lords. Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three. The Greek made all men slaves, the Jew made all men free. One built a throne on blood, the other built on love. The one was born of earth, the other from above. One won all this earth to lose all earth and Heaven. The other gave up all that all to Him be given. The Greek forever died, the Jew forever lives. He loses all who gets and wins all things who gives. (Quoted in Hughes, John, 303)
What a unique King is this King of Israel. His kingdom and reign are unlike any earthly kingdom. Not only is it not political, but it was secured when the King died. Most kings enter the city to the cheers of their subjects on their way to take a seat on the throne and to reign. Jesus entered the city to the cheers of the crowd so that he could take his place on a cross and die. The coming of the Greeks to see him signals that the time for Jesus to die is coming soon. The hour appointed for Jesus’s death on the cross is here. Jesus lived to die. His midnight birth in Bethlehem was the first step on the road to Calvary.

SOURCE: Content taken from CHRIST-CENTERED EXPOSITION COMMENTARY (32 Volumes); David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida (Editors); Copyright © 2013-16. Holman Reference. All rights reserved.
The Biblical Imagination

How some misunderstand what Jesus meant by "lifted up"

Jesus says he will draw “all people” to himself when he is “lifted up.” “Lifted up” is always a metaphor for crucifixion (see Jn 3:14). This is one of the most commonly misunderstood sayings of Jesus. Here, “lifted up” does not mean to be praised or worshiped. Yet many interpret this passage saying, “Jesus said if we lift him up (i.e., worship him), all men would be drawn to him.” Verse 33 makes it clear. He said this to show how he would die, that he would be crucified, that is, lifted up. It is a part of our calling certainly to worship Jesus. But he never said that by worshiping him all people would be drawn to him.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE BIBLICAL IMAGINATION (4 Volume Series); Michael Card; Copyright © 2011-14. IVP Books. All rights reserved.
God's Justice Bible

Die and live

John 12:23–26 A fruitful life springs from a willingness to die. There are two mutually exclusive ways to live: either one lives for oneself or one lives for others. The first option leads ultimately to death, the second to eternal life. The second is Jesus’ way and should be his disciples’ too. It entails renouncing the pursuit of your own honor for the sake of sharing Jesus’ destiny and receiving honor from the Father.

Agony in Obedience

John 12:27–36 Jesus’ faithfulness to his mission takes precedence over his personal anguish. Everything in his ministry has glorified the Father. And in his death both he and the Father will be glorified. What appears to be the victory of Jesus’ enemies is in fact a declaration of God’s judgment on the world that has rejected Jesus and on the power that fosters such rebellion against God. This crucified Messiah, who shatters expectations, is the source of eternal life. As such he will draw to himself all humankind without distinction.

SOURCE: Content taken from GOD'S JUSTICE BIBLE: The flourishing of Creation & the Destruction of Evil notes by Tim Stafford; Copyright © 2016. Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Life Recovery Bible

Jesus explains why he has to die

John 12:23-25 Instead of giving a king’s acceptance speech, Jesus explained why he would have to die. He said, in effect: “I must die so that I can bring new life to you. If you want this new life, then turn away from your current way of living!”   This message can be hard for us to accept, just as it was for the Jews of Jesus’ day. But in order to move through recovery—from addiction to freedom, from brokenness to healing, from guilt to forgiveness, or from isolation to intimacy—we must accept it. No longer can we embrace lives of escapism and denial. We must honestly embrace the painful realities in our life and patiently allow God’s love to make us whole.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE

Releasing control of our lives

John 12:25 We must be so committed to living for Christ that we “hate” our lives by comparison. This does not mean that we long to die or that we are careless or destructive with the life God has given, but that we are willing to die if doing so will glorify Christ. We must disown the tyrannical rule of our own self-centeredness. By laying aside our striving for advantage, security, and pleasure, we can serve God lovingly and freely. Releasing control of our lives and transferring control to Christ bring eternal life and genuine joy.

SOURCE: Content taken from LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE NOTES, Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Boice Expositional Commentary

The Gentiles first came to Philip

We are told that the Gentiles came first to Philip, though John does not say why. It may be because Philip had a Greek name: Philipos. It meant “a lover of horses.” The name may also have reminded them of the great Greek king, Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander. At any rate, they came to Philip; and Philip, who did not know whether Jesus would talk to Gentiles or not, went to Andrew. Incidentally, Andrew also had a Greek name, and both men had come from Bethsaida, a town that was located near a Greek area of the ancient east known as Syrophoenicia. Together Philip and Andrew conveyed the Greeks’ request to Jesus.   If we ask why Philip hesitated to bring the Greeks to Jesus immediately, we must remember that from the point of view of the disciples there had been some ambiguity in Christ’s actions toward the Gentiles.

  • When he had sent them out on their first preaching mission, he had instructed them, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matt. 10:5–6).
  • He had told the Syrophoenician woman, “First let the children eat all they want, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs” (Mark 7:27).
  • He had told the woman of Samaria, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).
On the other hand, Jesus had healed the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman at her request, and apparently he had gone out of his way not only to reach the woman of Samaria but also to preach to her entire town.   We recognize that Jesus was not bigoted in his more restrictive statements and actions. He simply felt an obligation to proclaim the coming of his kingdom first to Israel, in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Besides, he knew that the prophecies foretold a turning to the Gentiles after Israel had rejected her Messiah. But Philip and Andrew did not understand this and so must have debated the matter before going to him.

SOURCE: Content taken from BOICE EXPOSITIONAL COMMENTARY (27 Volumes). James Montgomery Boice, 2007.All rights reserved.
Sermon Writer
EXEGESIS

No commentary for John 22:20-23

SOURCE: Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.

READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

5th Sunday of Lent (B)

CATHOLIC Bible Study

Jesus Prophesies His Death and Glorification in the Parable of The Seed that Dies

by Michal Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

In the Gospel Reading, Jesus prophesies His death in the Parable of The Seed that Dies.  However, Jesus isn’t only predicting His coming crucifixion (Jn 3:14-15).  He is also prophesizing His Ascension to God the Father when He will be “raised high and greatly exalted” (Is 52:3), just as it was the custom for the Davidic kings to be elevated above their subjects (1 Mac 8:13).  In the inauguration of the New Covenant in the blood of Christ (Lk 22:20), the Lord God created in His spiritually reborn people a “clean heart” (Psalms Reading) in the Sacrament of Baptism.  He welcomed them into a new and eternal Covenant through the One who became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Second Reading).  Jesus’ submission to His Father’s will to redeem humanity inspired His entire life.  His mission was the focus of His life from the Incarnation to His Passion in fulfillment of His Father’s divine plan of redemptive love (CCC 607).

Context of the passage

After His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan, the day we celebrate as Palm Sunday and the day the sacrificial victims were chosen in the first Egyptian Passover (Ex 12:3-5), Jesus went to the Temple.  He came to cleanse the Temple again in preparation for a new Liturgy of worship (Mt 21:12-17 and the next day in Mk 11:12-19).  And He returned every day that week to teach the people and challenge the chief priests, Pharisees, and Scribes.  St. Luke tells us: He taught in the Temple every day.  The chief priests and the scribes, in company with the leading citizens, tried to do away with him, but they could not find a way to carry this out because the whole people hung on his words (Lk 19:45-47).

Gentiles’ request to see” Jesus

Our Gospel Reading event took place on Wednesday of His last teaching day in Jerusalem when some Greek-culture Gentiles requested “to see” Jesus, which probably meant that they wanted a private audience.  However, in John’s symbolic and spiritual Gospel, “to see” may also mean “to believe” in Jesus.  That these Gentiles came seeking the Messiah shows that Jesus’ Gospel of salvation had spread beyond the Jews.

The Gentiles, who were probably praying in the Temple’s Court of the Gentiles, approached the Apostle Philip (Jn 12:21).  Most scholars suggest that these Gentiles assumed that the Apostle with the Greek name could take their request to Jesus and act as their interpreter.  Philip went to his hometown friend Andrew to assist him with their request.  You may recall that Philip, Andrew, and Andrew’s brother Simon-Peter all came from Bethsaida (Jn 1:44), a town in Northern Galilee with a large Greek culture population (see Mt 4:15, which quotes Is 9:1).  Andrew’s name is also Greek with no Hebrew or Aramaic equivalent.

These Greeks were probably “God-fearers” (see Acts 10:22), Gentiles who believed in Yahweh and tried to follow His Law but who had not submitted to the rite of circumcision; therefore, they were not part of the covenant family.  It is the only possible explanation when you consider Jesus’ response.  If these people had been Gentile converts to Judaism, they would not have been in Jesus’ eyes any different than the other members of the covenant people, the ethic Jews and Israelites to whom Jesus was obliged to bring the message of salvation before any others.  The Gentiles’ coming is a new event and signals a definite turning point in His ministry.

Jesus’ hour has come

27 “I am troubled now.  Yet what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.”

This event is so significant that it prompts Jesus to declare that His “hour” has come!

It is the “hour” He first mentioned when His mother came to ask Him to make more wine for the wedding at Cana when He told her: “My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4b).

References to the coming “hour” appear fourteen times in John’s Gospel and refer to the hour (time) of His Passion.

Gospel of John Scripture passages referring to the “hour”
2:4 Jesus to His mother: “My hour has not yet come”
4:21 Jesus to the Samaritan woman:  “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
4:23 Jesus to the Samaritan woman: “But the hour is coming, and is now here when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth…”
5:25 Jesus to the Jewish crowd: “Amen, amen I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and all who hear it will live.”
5:28 Jesus to the Jewish crowd continued: “Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out …”
7:30 So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him because his hour had not yet come.
8:20 He spoke these words while teaching in the Treasury in the Temple area.  But no one arrested him because his hour had not yet come.
12:23 Jesus answered them: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
12:27 (two references in this verse) Jesus to His disciples: “I am troubled now.  Yet what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.”
13:1 Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.  He loved his own in the world, and he loved them to the end.
16:25 Jesus to the disciples: “I have told you this in figures of speech.    The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but I will tell you clearly about the Father.”
16:32 Jesus at the Last Supper, linking His “hour” to the disciple’s “hour”: “Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone.”
17:1 When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said: “Father, the hour has come.  Give glory to your Son so that Your Son may glorify you…”

 

Some scholars see the reference to the “hour” in the Synoptic Gospels as referring to Jesus’ glorification.  To others, it is the “hour” that marks His public ministry’s beginning and His manifestation as the Messiah.  However, all scholars agree that in John’s Gospel, the reference to Jesus’ “hour” points to the event of Christ’s Passion and death on the Cross.  It is an “hour” that humanity will not determine but an “hour” that is entirely in God’s control.  That interpretation fits in the context of the passage John 12:27.

The coming of the group of Gentiles is significant because, for the first time, people outside the Sinai Covenant have come in search of Jesus.  Their action makes them the “first fruits” of the spread of the Gospel among Gentiles!

In this verse, Jesus refers to His “hour” of glorification in terms of His death and Resurrection.  At times Jesus has used the same term to refer to the “hour of judgment” as in Matthew 13:32 and John 5:25.  However, in this case (as in Mark 14:41 and the passages in John 2:4; 4:23; 7:30; 8:20; 12:27; 13:1; and 17:1), he speaks of the hour of His redemption through His sacrificial death and glorious Resurrection.  This request of the Gentiles has now set the “countdown” to His glorification in motion.  His sacrificial death will secure eternal blessings not only for the Jews as God’s covenant people but for all people who become partakers of God’s grace in the gift of eternal life.  See John 1:29; 4:42; and 1 John 2:2 = He is the sacrifice to expiate our sins, and not only ours, but also those of the whole world.

The parable of the seed that dies

24 Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.  26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.  The Father will honor whoever serves me.

In answer to the Gentiles’ request to speak to Him, Jesus tells a parable symbolizing His coming death and glorification.  The seed in the parable represents Jesus’ Body, and He compares a seed to His Body in speaking of His sacrifice being a condition of His glorification and of death as the means of gaining life.  Just as a seed must be covered with earth before it sprouts new life, so too must Jesus endure physical death to bring us new life that lasts eternally.

St. Augustine addressed this apparent paradox between Christ’s humiliation in death and His glorification in Resurrection.  He wrote,

“it was appropriate that the loftiness of his glorification should be preceded by the lowliness of his passion” (The Gospel of John, 51.8).  

St. Paul expressed this same paradox when he wrote to the Christians at Philippi:

Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.  Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name  (Phil 2:7-9).

This same principle is true for those of us who follow Christ, as Jesus says in Jn 12:25-26:

  1. Anyone who loves his life (more than Me) destroys it.
  2. Anyone who hates his life in this world preserves it to live eternally in the next life.
  3. Anyone who serves Me must follow Me.
  4. Anyone who follows Me will be rewarded.

The principle in Jn 12:25: Whoever serves me must follow me, held true for His disciples during the last week of His earthly life in 30 AD and for each of us who commit to “follow” Christ today.  We must die to a life of self-centeredness and the temptations of this world.  We must live for Christ to receive the fullness of life from God and in becoming channels of life in Christ to others.

The Sacrament of Baptism

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we die to sin and this world.  After our spiritual rebirth in the water and the Spirit, we must go forward in our faith journey to daily take up our crosses and die to sin to live for Christ.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

  • CCC# 1213: “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments.  Through Baptism, we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and the word.'”
  • CCC# 1214: “This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to ‘plunge’ or ‘immerse’; into the water symbolizes the catechumen’s burial into Christ’s death, from which he rises up by Resurrection with him, as ‘a new creature.'”  Also see 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15; Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12).
  • CCC# 1215: “This sacrament is also called ‘the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit,’ for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one ‘can enter the kingdom of God.'” Quoting from Tit 3:5 and Jn 3:5.
  • CCC# 1816: “The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: ‘All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks.’  Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: ‘So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.'” Quoting from Mt 10:32-33.

Dying to sin and living in Christ

St. Paul wrote of the necessity of dying to sin and living in Christ in 2 Corinthians 4:11-12 ~

Indeed while we are still alive, we are continually being handed over to death, for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may be visible in our mortal flesh….  

We will also, like Jesus, face physical death at the end of our faith journeys but with the promise of “new life.”

St. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:35-38:

Someone may ask: How are dead people raised and what sort of body do they have when they come?  How foolish!  What you sow must die before it is given new life; and what you sow is not the body that is to be, but only a bare grain, of wheat I dare say, or some other kind; it is God who gives it the sort of body that he has chosen for it, and for each kind of seed its own kind of body.

 In Mark 8:34, Jesus made a similar statement, saying:

“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  

A living and dying reminder of faithfulness to this teaching is apparent in the life and death of St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, a disciple of St. John the Apostle who died a martyr’s death in 107/110 AD.  In his last letters, written before his martyrdom, he expressed the willingness to hate his life in this world to live eternally with Christ.  In his death, he gave us an example of how a faithful servant should follow Christ.  He ended his last letter to the Church in Rome remembering Jesus’ parable of the seed that dies with the words

“I am God’s grain!” (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Romans 4:1).

Jesus felt deep emotion

27 I am troubled now.  Yet what should I say?  ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  28 Father, glorify your name.”  Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”  29 The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”  30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. 

Jesus felt deep emotion at the thought of what awaited him, and so He turned to the Father in prayer, seeking refuge, strength, and love.  His very human feelings of anxiety and fear were intensified at the Garden of Gethsemane (see Mt 26:39; Mk 14:36 and Lk 22:42) and serve as a reminder that Jesus was both fully human and divine.  It is the same human anxiety and fear that the sinless and immortal Adam must have felt when confronted by the Serpent/Satan (Gen 3:1-6; Rev 12:9) at the time of our original parents’ fall from grace.  But in Jesus’ case, as the second Adam, He will triumph over death and Satan in His willingness to die for the salvation of humanity, for as Jesus says in John 12:27d: “But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.”

“Father, glorify your name!”

In ancient cultures, one’s name signified the entire person.  In Jesus’ earthly mission, He worked for the Father’s glory.  His sacrificial death, now freely offered, is the fulfillment of that work because it shows the Son’s love for the Father as the Father will show His love for the Son.  The message for us in this passage concerning Jesus’ desire to pray is, if Jesus, in a moment of trial and sadness, turned to the Father, shouldn’t we follow His example when we are burdened with the struggles of life?

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”

In John 12:28b, God speaks from Heaven, divinely and publicly sanctioning Jesus’ coming death.  The crowd hears thunder just as the Israelites heard thunder when Yahweh spoke to them from Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19:19, but others in the crowd heard the divine voice.  It is the third time God the Father spoke from Heaven to the Son during His ministry, bearing witness to His divinity:

  1. The Father’s voice at Jesus’ Baptism by St. John the Baptist (Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22)
  2. The Father’s voice on the Mt. of Transfiguration (Mt 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 9:35)
  3. The Father’s voice in John 12:28b, at Jesus’ last public address, sanctioning God the Son’s self-sacrifice.

Satan’s dominion over humanity broken

31 Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.

The Greek word for “judgment” is krisis, from which we get our word “crisis.”  The “ruler of this world” who “will be driven out” is Satan (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2; 6:12; Rev 12:9).  Jesus will refer to Satan as the “prince of this world” three times in the Gospel of John:

  1. John 12:31
  2. John 14:30
  3. John 16:11

Jesus’ sacrificial death breaks Satan’s dominion over humanity which began with Adam’s fall in Genesis 3:1-19.  Jesus will defeat Satan’s hold over humanity on the Cross and will destroy him when He returns in glory at His Second Advent (see Rev 20:10 and CCC# 5502853).

Jesus being lifted up on the cross

32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”  33 He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Jesus refers to being “lifted up” on the Cross in His crucifixion and His “lifting up” in His Resurrection and later to Heaven in His Ascension where He takes His place as the true Davidic King.  The Cross and the Resurrection/Ascension are all aspects of the same mystery.

When Christ ascends to the Father’s right hand in glory (Lk 22:69; Acts 2:33, 34; 7:55-56; Rom 8:34; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pt 3:22).  He will send God the Holy Spirit to call all humanity to come in faith to Him, and His kingdom will spread across the face of the earth.

But Jesus may also be alluding to the prophecy of the 8th-century prophet Isaiah in the fourth Servant Song found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.  The fourth Servant Song is a prophetic vision of the suffering of the Messiah.  St. John will begin his summation of Jesus’ ministry at the end of this chapter with a quote from the Suffering Servant passages in Isaiah in 12:38.

Jesus’ statement in John 12:32 is an answer to the request of the Gentiles in 12:21 to “see” Jesus.  The crucified Christ will be raised before the eyes of the world, Jews and Gentiles, as Savior and Lord, when He is “lifted up.”  Concerning Jesus’ statement in verse 32, the Catechism teaches:

“‘And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ The lifting up of Jesus on the Cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into Heaven, and indeed begins it.  Jesus Christ, the one priest of the New and eternal Covenant, ‘entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands… but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.’  There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he ‘always lives to make intercession’ for ‘those who draw near to God through him.’  As ‘high priest of the good things to come’ he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven” (CCC# 662; quoting from Jn 12:32; Heb 9:24; 7:25; 9:11).

SOURCE: content taken from Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission. Section divisions and titles added.

READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

5th Sunday of Lent (B)

Paul Schlachter

Time for judgment

Points to consider

  • I hear a series of sayings attributed to Jesus.  Each one seems able to hold its own in isolation.  They belong together because they speak of the relation of Jesus with his followers.
  • The Greeks would like to see Jesus.  In other words, the world awaits him now.  The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  The evangelist meant that God would reveal him as the Son especially at his death.  Was a remote heavenly glorification – like that of Hercules – about to occur?  On the contrary, we are intimate participants insofar as we follow Jesus.  Doesn’t this sound like the message I just heard in Hebrews, though expressed in a different way?
  • Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies… It is a saying we have heard over and over at this time of year.  I emphasize the positive side: If it dies it produces much fruit.  I will avoid isolating this saying by the way I read the other verses, and by so doing I will keep it in its rich context of relationships.  Jesus is on the way to his death and he invites us to follow the same path to fruitfulness.  In my mouth the advice is an invitation rather than a ‘hard saying.’
  • Then I hear a moment of agony and supplication.  Father, save me from this hour.  The Greek and Latin tradition has treated this as a declaration (as it is in the Synoptics), and not as a hypothetical question as presented in the Lectionary.  I will say it as a tentative declaration, more whispered than spoken, certainly not as the final word of the prayer.
  • For the prayer ends with a stirring call to obedience, in the words of the great prayer he gave us: Father, glorify your name! 
  • What reply do we hear?  The voice of God?  I have glorified it and will glorify it again.  An angel?  Ah, for most folks it’s all just a loud clap of thunder.  Well, let me split the difference and make God speak in thunderous voice.
  • When I am lifted up from the earth – I will draw everyone to myself.  This version in the new Lectionary is definitely an improvement.  I use a pause, because I am intend to lift the timbre of my voice up to the pause, and lower it so slightly after that.  The kind of death he would die, yes, which?  Crucifixion, the one everyone witnessed?  Or a death of exaltation by God, on which we base our faith in the church?  I remember the notice in this Gospel that ‘the flesh profiteth nothing,’ and that helps me work it out for the assembly.

Key elements

  • Climax: Now is the time for judgment on this world.  It reads like Shakespeare, doesn’t it?  Let me make it sound that way.  Time stood still when Jesus died, in the most important sense.  The judgment still holds and will always hold.  I want my now to ring as if it sounds through all the centuries until our day.
  • Message for our assembly: Jesus is talking to us when he says: Those who hate their lives in this worldthose who serve me, and those who will behold him lifted from the earth.  Will we join him where he is?
  • I will challenge myself: To not let anyone in my hearing make it through this Lent without deciding, in their heart where God has planted the law, for Jesus.

Word to Eucharist

The hard sayings just got harder and echo through the assembly.  To borrow from Bonhoeffer, this is not a “cheap” but a costly communion that we celebrate.  Let us remind ourselves of this.

SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org; Used with permission
Greg Warnusz

Introduction

Some early Christians were likely to renounce Jesus if threatened with persecution. Saint John’s gospel gives us this portrait of Jesus meditating on his own suffering and that of his disciples.

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org

READING 1 | READING 2 | GOSPEL

5th Sunday of Lent (B)

Catholic Productions

Jesus’ Hour

Jesus speaks about his hour all throughout the Gospel of John. What is it that he is speaking of, and why is it when some Gentiles seek after him that he finally states that his hour has come? Check out this video with Dr. Brant Pitre to learn more about this topic.

Institute of Catholic Culture

How is Jesus the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s “New Covenant”

Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

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