That was the request the Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast made to Philip, one of the apostles. Philip passed it on to Andrew, and then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
This was an innocent sounding request on face value.. So many people wanted to see Jesus; the man who spoke such words of wisdom and provocation. So many people wanted to see the man who healed the sick and performed many other wonders.
Many people have echoed those words down through the ages. “we would like to see Jesus.” How many of us right here have thought about what it would have been like to be one of his disciples, going with him on his mission trips around Galilee and Judah. How many of us want to hear his voice, participate in his ministry, and be touched by his wonderful love.
“We would like to see Jesus.”
Of course, we live two thousand years later. Long ago, Jesus ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father. We believe that. It is in our creed. And yet, we still have that little inner longing – that wondering of what it might have been like to hear his voice. What would it have been like to be with him in the temple that day and hear that voice of the Father from heaven that the gospel writer said sounded like thunder or the voice of an angel.
“We would like to see Jesus.”
Notice how Jesus responded. He answered the Greeks with some very curious words. First he spoke about the grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying, so that it can produce much fruit.
Then he spoke about loving your life and losing it or hating your life in this world and preserving it for eternity. Then He spoke about his purpose being fulfilled in this hour, being lifted up and drawing everyone to himself.
I imagine that his apostles and any others standing by and listening were totally lost. After all, the Greeks just asked a simple question. All they wanted was to see Jesus.
So we have a mystery here. Not everything is as it seems. This is often true in sacred scripture. It is like a layer cake – multiple layers going on here. Here, then, is a first clue for us. When Jesus replied to the request from the Greeks, he is also replying at this present moment to us today. We want to see Jesus too. And Jesus is showing us the way to see him.
We are invited to see the crucified Jesus. This is the one who is the seed that falls to the ground and dies. He is present in the crucifixion.
Every time we visit someone who is sick, we encounter the crucified Lord. Every time we give comfort to someone who bears a heavy burden, we encounter the crucified Lord. Every time we stand in solidarity with people who are poor and oppressed, we encounter the crucified Lord. Every time we warmly greet the stranger in our midst, we encounter the crucified Lord.
Often times, we go looking for Jesus in spectacular signs and miracles. And he indeed continues to offer the world these signs of the kingdom. But most especially he invites us to see him in the distressing disguise of the poor – to know him – and to love him.
Jesus said, “whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” Jesus said, “whatever you do to the least of these, you do also to me.”
Do you want to see Jesus? Then feed the hungry.
Do you want to see Jesus? Then give drink to the thirsty.
Do you want to see Jesus? Then clothe the naked.
Do you want to see Jesus? Then shelter the homeless
Do you want to see Jesus? Then visit the sick
Do you want to see Jesus? Then visit the imprisoned.
Do you want to see Jesus? Then bury the dead and give comfort to the grieving
For when we do this, we will know Jesus in his finest hour - his hour of salvation among us. We will know him in his love and mercy for us all. We will encounter him in his sacramental and glorified presence in his church. We will know the crucified Lord, who will draw us to himself in mercy and love and forgiveness.
Do you want to see Jesus? To really see Jesus? Then may all of us lay down our own lives in love and service and come follow Him.