In John 12:20-26, a group approaches the disciples with a request. “We wish to see Jesus.” If people are asking us to show them Jesus, will they see him in us?
The goal of a sermon is to build a point of contact between the text and the audience. It’s important for the preacher to understand where this point is because it will determine the focus and the force of the sermon. But where does that point happen?
In the text I looked at this week I carefully considered Jesus’ own words in John 12:23-26. After all, the impetus of this series is Jesus’ statements about “the hour” in John’s gospel. “My hour has not yet come,” “The hour is coming,” “The hour is coming and is now here,” “The hour has now come,” culminating in the statement from the cross, “It is finished!” So, whatever this sermon says it has to find its footing in Jesus’ statement about the hour.
The Hour Has Come
The opening scene of the passage sets the tone for the sermon. A group of Greeks come to Philip the disciple and ask to see Jesus. In the past, when approached by the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15, Jesus responded, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But now, in his last week before the crucifixion, suddenly he says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
What happens when people come to us looking for Jesus? What do we show them? Maybe also we should wonder, “Why would they come to us?” What’s our point of connection to them? How do we ourselves become a sermon to them?
I had some fun with the “optical illusion” illustration. I had used it before with some success. However, I was sensitive this time around that it was probably lost on my podcast audience. I included the image in the episode graphic, but I’m not sure how helpful it really was.
The sermon went over well. People had some great comments at the door. Also, after the sermon two people came forward. One was my sister (biologically and spiritually) who wanted to place her membership with our church. The other was a dear sister who serves in wonderful ways and wanted to commit to even more service! Amazing!
I didn’t have time this week to go over my notes enough, but the delivery went well. The optical illusion illustration has, in the past, left people struggling to see the image of Jesus, but this time nearly everyone saw the picture clearly. I think the Internet is responsible for that. People love to pass those things around.