We hit another cryptic story of Jesus in John 12:20-36. Some Greek Gentiles want to speak to Jesus. They are God fearing people, and the disciples don’t know what to do with them. But we are never told if Jesus meets with them or not.
Instead, Jesus goes into a discourse about how everything has to die in order to produce life. Seeds have to drop to the ground and be buried in order to produce more seeds. People have to be willing to give up this life in order to gain a better one. Death precedes life.
He admits that He doesn’t want to die, but knows it is God’s plan and is resigned to it in verses 27 and 28. At that point, God speaks from Heaven, and the people hear it. They disagree on what they heard, but they hear it.
This whole passage is about the ability to hear God. The Greek people want to speak to Jesus, with hopes of hearing God. Jesus does what He does, because He has heard the plan from God. The disciples go to Jesus to hear from God. God speaks to the crowd, but not everyone actually hears it. Jesus tells the people about His death, but not everyone can understand it or hear it clearly.
What is the difference in who hears, and who doesn’t? It’s the issue of death. I think when we hold tightly to this life; a life of selfishness, self-protection, self-promotion, selfish desires, and selfish motives, then we can’t hear God. Even when He speaks clearly, it sounds like a distant thunder to us and we ignore it. But when we die to this life, and embrace the fact that this world isn’t the answer, that His world is the hope, then we can begin to learn to hear clearly.
The Jews who were looking for a king for this world (a Messiah who would live here and rule here forever vs. 34) were clutching this life and this world’s values for dear life. When God speaks to them directly from Heaven, they can’t hear it. The Greeks are seeking God, and left their culture, home, and comfort to try and find Him in Jerusalem. We are not told what they do. It’s a forever open opportunity. Those who seek God will eventually find Him, but they are on the journey, their destination isn’t decided in this story. Finally, we have Jesus, who is willing to die to it all, everyday. He hears God crystal clear. He is completely connected.
We can be too. We can live in that Kingdom if we choose. But it will require us letting this world’s grip on us be killed. We will have to die to the selfishness in us. Everyday.
That can hurt.