“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
I’ve always found these words to be arresting. In John’s Gospel, they are the words of “some Greeks [who] came to Philip,” a disciple of Jesus. Why did these Greeks want to see Jesus? Did they want an appointment with him? A miracle? A good word?
When I encounter this passage I am always reminded that these words – “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” – were often carved into the wood of church pulpits, not for the congregation to see but for the preacher to see. These words remind the preacher of the primary task of all Christian preaching: to speak of Jesus so that he may be seen… encountered by all who hear. In essence, the preaching task is to bring Jesus to life! The gospel message of God’s love and forgiveness must be brought to life anew every week. It’s a tall order.
Yes, preachers have a special responsibility to do this. But don’t think you are off the hook if you aren’t a preacher yourself, because all of us – all Christian people – are called by God to make Jesus known in the way we live. When others see you respond to human need, do they see Jesus? When you speak of people who are different from you – by creed or race or nation – do they see Jesus in you? When you are called to serve, do people see Jesus? When you are hurt or offended, do people see how you love and forgive, and think of Jesus?
I know this is a daunting standard of behavior. Few (or maybe none) of us measure up all the time. But spiritual growth means that we are growing into Christlike living…we are on the trail of greater and greater love and compassion. If we are not moving along that path, we need to pause and rethink. The world needs to see Jesus, now more than ever, and it’s our job to show him forth. JBM