Sunday Readings: Jeremiah 31.31-34; Hebrews 5.6-7; John 12.20-33
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit….If people want to serve me, let them follow me. Where I am, there also my servants will be. Those who serve me the Father will honor. Now, my soul is troubled, yet what should I say — Father, save me from this hour? I have come for this hour: Father, glorify your name. – John 12. 23-26
The gospel writer John deliberately places the grain of wheat saying between two events — the raising of Lazarus and Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet. For John the hour of Jesus’ death is the moment when God will glorify his name. A dynamic process begins, a passing over, a planting that will bear fruit a hundredfold. In being lifted up — first on the cross and ultimately from the tomb — Jesus will draw all people to himself. In death Jesus entrusts his life to God, the same life-giving Creator that hides the promise of new life in seeds and promises new life for us.
John’s gospel couples the grain of wheat saying with sayings about discipleship that call us to plant ourselves in the Christian community and follow Jesus by serving others. “Where I am, there my servants must be,” Jesus says. At the last supper in this gospel, Jesus does the work of a household slave when he washes his disciples’ feet. His footwashing gives his followers an example of how to treat one another.
What promise does God hold for you? How do you respond to Jesus washing his disciples’ feet at his last supper?