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Who will get glory?
John 12:20-33
Jim Hill from B.C.

If you listed all the awards that are handed out every year, the list would probably stretch from here to California. The Academy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the Tony Awards, the Juno Awards, the Gemini Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, and countless others. There are Magazine of the Year Awards, Best News Program awards, Man of the Year Awards, and Show Dog Awards. Almost every sport has its awards, and almost every team has its most valuable player awards. In literature, there's the Pulitzer Prize, the Booker Prize, the Giller Prize, and of course, the Nobel Prize. There's the National Book Award, the Edgar Award, the Silver Dagger Award, the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the Stoker Award, and the countless others. Chambers of Commerce have their awards, businesses have their awards, schools have their awards, even kindergartens and nurseries have awards. There's probably a sermon of the year award, or a pastor of the year award, although I've never heard of it (and probably never will!).

Some of these awards are for merit and accomplishment, but most of them are for publicity and fame and glory. Recognition is fine. In fact, everything in this world is fine. St. Paul said "all things are lawful, but not all things are helpful." It seems to me that most of the award-giving and the ceremonies surrounding them, are primarily for the sake of the glory-seekers and the hero-worshipers, for the sake of those who want to be adored, and for their adulators.

Jesus wants none of that! When the Hellenists wanted to see him, this sage whose fame had spread throughout Palestine, Jesus didn't even bother to talk to them. They were like groupies after a rock star, going through the "buffers" that all famous people need. They talked to Philip and Philip talked to Andrew and they both went and talked to Jesus, as if they were arranging an audience with the pope!

Jesus reply, in essence, is: "You interested in glory, and being close to a hero, a famous person who HAS glory? Yes, indeed. ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.' But it will be through total self-sacrifice and death. You want to join me in that?"

This was Jesus' off-putting reply. Very 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. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor."

Strong words! But Jesus is fighting his own temptation to glorify himself. He doesn't need autograph-seekers and a Greek fan club to make it even harder for him. These fans are merely reminding him of all that he has to GIVE UP, as he heads towards crucifixion and death in Jerusalem. And so, after rebuffing them, he says, "Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say--' Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour."

And then he prays, "Father, glorify your name." Not mine; YOUR name. "Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.' The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.' Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.'"

Who will get glory? The Father, the Creator God, the King of the Universe, who alone deserves all worship and praise and glory. The voice from heaven said, "I have glorified [my name], and I will glorify it again." Jesus said, "This voice was for YOUR sake, so you know where glory belongs. I will be the means FOR GOD to get glory, who is judging the world and driving out the ruler of this world." "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.'"

In saying, "when I am lifted up," Jesus is referring to both his crucifixion AND his resurrection. So he's saying, "Glory will be where glory belongs, when I'm back together with the Father, and we are again ONE. In fact, I will draw all people to myself, which means that they will also be one, with each other and with us, even as I and the Father are one." This is a recurring theme throughout the book of John.

So after this hard part is over, Jesus says, in classic understatement, there'll be no need for glory-seeking, because we'll ALL have ALL the glory, that we all WANT and NEED."

The desire for glory is simply a desire to be loved. And through Christ, we ALREADY HAVE all the love that we will ever need.

Jesus knew that he had ALL the Father's love, even though he was self- separated; and so he was free, to lay aside all glory, all recognition, all credit and all praise. He was free to be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; to be stricken, smitten and afflicted, and go like a sheep to its shearers, silent and submissive and totally willing. As St. Paul said, "He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave... humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death."

What a perfect example for us! What a hero for us to emulate! We can lose everything, even our life and breath. We can give ourselves away almost as we hated life (to use Jesus' metaphor), because we have it for eternal life. It's guaranteed by love and forgiveness of God. It's as sure as grain of wheat, that goes into the ground and dies. God will make it sprout, and bear much fruit.