"'Now is my soul troubled,' Jesus said with a knitted brow. His tone was meditative, and his gaze was slightly aside, as if he were speaking to no one but God himself."

As we enter into the Lenten season, we prepare our minds and hearts to observe Jesus’s painful sacrifice on Good Friday and his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. In an effort to more deeply interact with scriptural truths, we are presenting some written historical fiction pieces that correspond to verses traditionally read during these weeks of Lent. These presentations have been created by Cornerstone members with the blessing and consultation of Cornerstone elders.

Our hope is that these written pieces will help you to meditate on the life of Christ as told in scripture, and that leading up to Easter we may all find something beautifully new to appreciate about our Living God, who gave up his very life for us.

Scripture: John 12:20-33

Philip was in high spirits. Their group had entered Jerusalem to the cheering of crowds, with a reception fit for a king. It seemed like Jesus was finally getting the attention he deserved, finally about to be placed in the position he belonged. Each day Jesus went to the temple to teach in the outer court, and each day it seemed like more Jews were hearing his message. As their rabbi spoke, Philip and the other disciples were nearby, speaking with pilgrims and discussing things of the Lord. It was after one such discussion that a group of men approached Philip and one of them said to him in Greek, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 

Philip paused, unsure of how to respond. He assumed that they had heard his Greek name, perhaps overheard some Greek he had been speaking in the marketplace, and sought his favor in bringing them before Jesus. But these men did not appear to be of the house of Israel - Gentiles, in fact. And yet, here they were at the temple, at the time of the holy festival. Could they truly be seeking God? And could they believe in the message of Jesus? Philip was unsure how to categorize them, let alone how Jesus would respond.

He thought for a moment, weighing his options, before he finally told them, “Wait here.” He went and found Andrew, his fellow disciple. He and Andrew were both of Bethsaida, where the lives of Jews and Gentiles intertwined, and they had both been called to come and follow Jesus. They had grown closer in friendship as they walked together alongside their rabbi. Philip trusted Andrew’s counsel, and knew his friend would give a helpful word.

As he told Andrew, his friend raised his eyebrows. Men not of the house of Israel inquiring of their teacher? And yet, Andrew had learned that nothing about following this rabbi was quite what he expected. After a moment he put a hand on Philip’s shoulder, and said, “Let us go to the Teacher and tell him.” And so together they went and drew near to Jesus.

Jesus had just finished speaking to a group of people, and his face seemed to brighten as they drew near. No matter how many people were around him, Jesus had a way of making them feel like they were always welcome to approach. With Andrew at his side, Philip relayed to Jesus that the Greeks desired to meet with him.

Jesus gave a knowing nod and answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Philip had noticed that whenever Jesus said ‘truly’ there was a particular earnestness in his voice. He listened closely as his Teacher continued. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

Philip was confused by his Teacher’s words. A grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies? Hating your life and losing it? What had this to do with proclaiming the message of God? Philip did desire to serve Jesus and to follow him, so despite his confusion, he kept silent.

As he spoke of the grain of wheat dying and bearing fruit, Jesus’s countenance began to change. “Now is my soul troubled,” he said with a knitted brow. His tone was meditative, and his gaze was slightly aside, as if he were speaking to no one but God himself. “And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” His face set with a certain resolve as he spoke these words with genuine heart.

Just then, a voice came from heaven and said, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” To Philip and the crowd that heard it, it seemed like thunder. The apostle felt the vibration of the voice deep in his soul, and though slightly shaken, he was oddly comforted as well.

“This voice has come for your sake, not mine,” said Jesus. “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 

At the time, Philip did not fully appreciate his teacher’s words. It was not until one solemn week later that he realized what Jesus had meant.

Ashley Ross

Ashley is a member of Cornerstone and serves as a Web Content Editor.

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