John 12:20–33 (NRSV)
Verse 20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. Verse 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Verse 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Verse 23Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Verse 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Verse 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Verse 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
Verse 27"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. Verse 28Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." Verse 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Verse 30Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Verse 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. Verse 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." Verse 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
“Now is the judgment of this world,” says Jesus, “now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
The judgment of God may sound frightening, but it holds the good news that all that works against God will be driven out.
Jesus’ talk of being “lifted up from the earth” echoes his earlier assertion (John 3:14) that the Son of Man must be lifted up like Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness, so that the snake-bitten Israelites could look at it and be healed (Numbers 21).
We are not bitten by snakes (hopefully), but we are sin-bitten, death-bitten, grief-bitten. In the strange economy of God, healing now comes not through a bronze serpent on a pole, but a man nailed to a cross, pouring out his life in love for the world. May we, like the Greeks at the beginning of this gospel reading, seek to know this Jesus.
When we are frightened, O God, when our hearts are heavy, raise our eyes to see the healing that you have accomplished through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Vanquish the ruler of this world and draw all people to yourself. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.