Come to Athens and live
For reading & meditation: John 7:25-39
"' Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?" (v.35)
We ended yesterday by suggesting that the issue which the Greeks might have wanted to talk over with Jesus was that of taking His message to Athens - the centre of philosophy and learning. Were they intent on saying to Him: "Put Your marvellous message of the kingdom of God into the medium of Greek thought, and in no time it will spread throughout the world. Don't stay in Jerusalem and die; come to Athens and live"? We have no way, of course, of knowing for sure that this was the situation, and I am simply suggesting that this is what may have been in their minds. The idea is not as far-fetched as you might imagine when placed against the verse that is before us today: `"Does he intend to go to the Dispersion ' and teach the Greeks?" (v.35, RSV). Had other nations beyond Israel's boundaries showed interest in His revolutionary approach to life? Tradition says that the king of Edessa once sent a message to Jesus inviting Him to come to his country and present His message concerning the kingdom of God. Whether or not this was so, one thing is certain - the coming of the Greeks precipitated a crisis in Jesus' soul: "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? ' Father, glorify your name!" (John 12:27-28). He would not rationalise or compromise; He would face the issue to which He had always been committed. It was not to be a philosopher's chair in Athens, but a grisly cross in Jerusalem. He would fall into the ground and die, and bear a harvest richer than anything the world could offer.
Lord Jesus, help me to catch something of Your spirit as I face the challenges that lie ahead of me in the coming days. I want to make my life count for the utmost - show me how we can work things out together. Amen.
For further study:
1. What does the cross signify?
2. What does it mean to "take up your cross"?