Word For The Day By Christian Education Forum
WITNESSING: DIOSPORA COMMUNITY
John 12: 20 - 22
Israelites living in ancient Israel and Judea gather at Jerusalem for three major Jewish festivals as commanded by Yahweh through Moses
( Deuteronomy 16:16). These three Pilgrimage Festivals are Pesach
(Passover), Shavuot (Weeks), and Sukkot (Tents, Booths or Tabernacle). Along with these Jews, a lot of Gentiles also arrived at Jerusalem during these festivals.
Greeks approaching Philip: In the passage we see that some such Greeks approached Philip (Greek Philipos), probably because he was the only apostle with a Greek name, with a request to see Jesus. If a Malayalee or for that matter an Indian is working in any government office and we need any help from that office, we first try to approach that Malayalee. In the same way, the Greeks approached Philip as they might have identified him as one amongst them. However, Philip was not able to make a decision by himself. So he took them to Andrew. Both of them together took these Greeks to Jesus. But it appears that Jesus did not give them a direct audience. Instead he said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12: 23).
Breaking the Barrier: In the beginning, Jesus took the stand that he was sent to the lost sheep of Israel (Mathew 15:24). However, Zechariah prophesized that “Messiah would proclaim peace to the Gentiles” (Zech. 9:10). Jesus also said that he had other sheep not of the fold (John 10:16). The appearance of these Gentiles wishing to see Jesus indicate that the time has come for Jesus to expand his ministry from the lost sheep of Israel to other sheep not of the fold. But it was Philip’s precise role to take that bold first step in the expansion of Jesus’ ministry.
Philip was not sure whether Jesus would accept these Gentiles. It might have been comfortable for him to confirm with the existing standards and reject the request of the Greeks. Instead he took substantial risk here by breaking the barrier and crossing the boundary by which Jesus was operating so far, thereby leading the way for expansion of Jesus’s ministry. While living as a Diaspora community, it is our responsibility to bring people to Jesus even by breaking the barrier and crossing the boundary which our community has set up for us. That includes recognizing and accepting the people who live around us irrespective of their color, language, culture and religion. We have to be a witness in our community by our way of life of inclusion and acceptance.
Prayer: Lord, enable us to be instruments in the expansion of your kingdom. Give us courage to break barriers, which stand as obstacles in bringing people to you. Amen.
P.T. Thomas, St. Thomas, New York