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, March 28, 2018

Barn near Manheim, PA
In our travels we pass this barn near Manheim, PA on Rt. 772

"Wanting To See Jesus"

Message summary: We must always be mindful that the world supremely needs to see Jesus. Jesus Himself said, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself."

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"Now among those who went were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus'." "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself" (John 12:20,21,32).

Three Mile IslandEvery day something historical took place on any given date. Humans have been around long enough recording their history that there are no exceptions. Something significant, both good and bad, took place on dates from the past and significant happenings will take place in the future! (Of course you already know that.)

Today's date is significant here in central Pennsylvania. At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry began when a pressure valve in the Unit 2 reactor at Three Mile Island failed to close. Although that was nearly forty years ago it had a memorable impact on our area and since we are within the ten mile safety zone around the still active Unit 1 reactor we get a very detailed emergency planning brochure each year.

We both enjoy brief historical accounts given for everyday of the year from a book called, "On This Date" by Robert J. Morgan. Brooksyne often reads aloud when we travel together. Not only does she read from "On This Date" but she also reads a similar book, "The Christian History" devotional, written by Stephen Lang. "The Christian History" devotional for today is the story of a devout man who died on this very day, March 28, 1929. His name was Uchimura Kanzo of Japan who exhibited a unique spirit and whose teachings continue to influence believers even today.

But when it comes to Biblical history we generally are unable to determine what happened on specific dates though Bible students have pinpointed when specific events likely happened
during the period often referred to as "Holy Week" or "Passion Week" in the life of Christ. This week covers the week from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection and we have been posting a study guide concerning these events in our footnotes.

Today let us consider a rather obscure event that took place on this day of Holy week recorded only in John's account.

Greeks seek JesusSome Greeks had come up to worship at the feast. John does not provide any background information about these Greeks. They may have been Greek converts to Judaism. They may have been Greek God-fearers, those who had great respect for Judaism but hadn't converted and become circumcised. Or they may have simply been Greek travelers, known for their curiosity.

These Greeks had come to Philip with this request.
"Sir, we wish to see Jesus." It's simple and very specific. They didn't beat around the bush. They knew what they wanted and in their seeking they had it right. They wanted to see Jesus. Philip went to Andrew and together they told Jesus. They had it right too. They didn't try to take center stage; they complied with the request. That's also a good lesson for us. Today are we helping people to see Jesus? 

Pastor David Guzik speculates, "These Greeks had heard of Jesus, perhaps of His reputation as a teacher and worker of miracles. What they did know of Jesus made them want to know more about Him, so they came to Philip (the one disciple with a Greek name) asking to see Jesus."

Ray Pritchard observes, "No doubt they were fully aware of the ruckus Jesus created when He cleansed the temple. We know the whole city was talking about Him. If Twitter had existed back then, #WhoisJesus would have been a trending hashtag. Who was this man who could walk on water, heal the sick, and raise the dead?"

Rudolf Stier makes this interesting contrast, "These men from the West at the end of the Life of Jesus, set forth the same as the Magi from the East at its beginning: — but they come to the Cross of the King, as those to His cradle.”

The text doesn't tell us whether these Greeks actually saw Jesus or if they were able to speak to Him. In fact they are not mentioned again in this passage. However I have wondered if one of these Greeks might have been Stephen, who later had a leadership role in the early church and became the first Christian martyr recorded in Scripture.

Today, as we go forth in fulfillment of Christ's command, may our light shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven. We must always be mindful that the world supremely needs to see Jesus. Jesus Himself said, "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily Prayer: Father, when the Greeks came to Philip and said, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus" they were requesting an audience with the Son of God even as the Jews were rejecting Him. When Jesus said, "If I be lifted up from the earth I will draw all men to Myself" He clearly understood His mission was to save people from every tribe and nation. People looking to be saved aren't interested in stained glassed windows, beautiful cathedrals, impressive preachers or world renown Christian artists. They wish to see Jesus, for only Jesus can save them from their sins. Only Jesus can deliver them from their dreadful state of hopelessness. Only Jesus sit at the right hand of God the Father. Only Jesus can be their personal Saviour and make it possible for them to spend eternity in heaven. Help us to show seekers the way to You, our Father, through Christ Jesus Your Son in whose name we pray. Amen.

Pastoral ministry memory: For many years during the time I served as a pastor I had a small placard attached to the pulpit facing me as I preached with these words, "Sir, we would see Jesus." It was visible as I stood in front of God's people and preached every Sunday. It served as a reminder that it was not me that the people came to see, but it was Jesus whom I solemnly represented. This is an extremely important truth for all ministers of the Gospel to keep in mind as they break forth the Word of Life.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Let Them See You In Me"  Video   JJ Weeks Band  Great song for musicians, preachers and everyone!

"Broken Hallelujah
"  Video  The Afters

For further study:
Why does the book of John include the story of the Greeks wanting to see Jesus?
Why Did the Greeks Desire to See Jesus?

One of my missions is reminding people of the value of their work and that what they do matters to God whether secular or sacred (as we often label work). I came across this video that really touched us both and it will likey be the theme in a future encouragement message.
"Good Work Matters: The Surprising Story of the Oxygen Mask" Video (5:32 minutes) It's a very powerful lesson of how people so need and appreciate being reminded of the importance of their work.

(This week is known by many as Passion Week or Holy Week which covers the events in Christ's life from the Triumphal Entry to His resurrection. We will leave the following materials up throughout the week.)

Major Events of the Passion Week

The 4 gospels cover the life of Christ, a period of about 33 years. Most of this material deals with the 3˝ year period of His ministry. However an astounding 30 of the 89 accumulative chapters in the gospels deal with the period from Christ's triumphal entry through His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. Mathematically this means that approximately 33% of the written material in the gospels deals with a mere .05% period of His life! In the providence of God we have a much greater proportion of material dealing with God's greatest act of mercy in providing our redemption.

Here's an interesting chart from a Study Bible that may be helpful as you study the Bible this week. It sure helps me to have a sense of when the events took place and is inspiring to read these Scriptures in the daily sequence leading up to Easter.

  • Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem: Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:29-40; John 12:12-19
  • Jesus Clears the Temple: Mt. 21:12,13; Mk. 11:15-17; Lk. 19:45,46
  • Jesus' authority challenged in the temple: Mt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8
  • Jesus teaches stories and confronts the Jewish leaders: Mt. 21:28-23:36; Mk. 12:1-40; Lk. 20:9-47   
  • Greeks ask to see Jesus: Jn. 12:20-26
  • The Olivet Discourse: Mt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21:5-38
  • Judas agrees to betray Jesus: Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10,11; Lk. 22:3-6
  • The Last Supper:  Mt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; Lk. 22:14-20
  • Jesus speaks to the disciples in the upper room:  Jn 13-17
  • Jesus struggles in Garden of Gethsemane: Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 18:1
  • Jesus is betrayed and arrested: Mt. 26:47-56; Mk. 14:43-52; Lk. 22:47-53; Jn. 18:2-12
  • Jesus is tried by Jewish and Roman authorities and disowned by Peter: Mt 26:57-27:2, 11-31; Mk 14:53-15:20; Lk 22:54-23:25; Jn 18:13-19:16
  • Jesus is crucified and buried: Mt 27:31-56; Mk 15:20-41; Lk 23:26-49; Jn 19:17-30
  • The glorious resurrection: Mt. 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18
(This material is developed from an outline in the Life Application Bible)

"It's Still The Cross!"

(A selection of Scripture verses focusing on the Cross for personal, family or congregational reading.)

Worship leader: Here they crucified Him, and with Him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18

Congregation: This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. Acts 2:23

Worship leader:  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

Congregation: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

Worship leader: By abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  Ephesians 2:15-17

Congregation: He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name.  Philippians 2:7-9  

Worship leader: For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19,20 

Congregation: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13,14

All: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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