Not Just to See Him

By Ken Asel

Reading from the Gospel of John, 12:20-26

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.” 


Today’s passage focuses on several Gentiles who approach Philip asking to be introduced to Jesus. Karoline Lewis of Luther Seminary wonders why those who come to Philip ask only to see the Lord. If you wish to see Jesus, Lewis asks, what are you expecting to see? Following Jesus requires more than an introduction or watching him from afar. If the inquirers are merely curious and not hoping to follow the Lord as disciples, a casual introduction might be in order. But to truly encounter Jesus one must learn and engage in what he did and what motivated him every day. Not only watch Jesus, but do likewise.

And that mandate remains applicable. We are to learn from the Lord, feeding the sheep and tending the flock, clothing the naked and visiting the imprisoned, imitating him generation after generation into our own day. On this matter Jesus spoke clearly: “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”

Today is the feast of St. Ninian (360-432), the Celtic missionary and servant of Christ to the southern Picts, a fierce group known as “Kaltis” to the Romans. Ninian, a Briton, was trained in Rome, and became close to St. Martin of Tours during his return to Scotland. Ninian is described by the Venerable Bede as Scotland’s first bishop in the early Celtic Church and remains remembered to this day by many as the founder of Scottish Christianity. It is said that the sacred bell of Ninian rang spontaneously when he died, announcing his death throughout the countryside. Whoever serves me must follow me… Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married more than 28 years and reside in the Texas Hill Country.

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