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TO CHEW ON: "Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip who was from Bethsaida of Galilee and asked him saying, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' " John 12:20,21
The scene was a Messiah-seeker's dream. Jesus' good reputation from raising Lazarus had spread so that when He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9), He was accompanied by an adoring crowd. The significance of this act would not be lost on any Jew in the crowd familiar with Old Testament prophecy. They saw Him as their expected Messiah—a savior from Roman rule.
But now Greeks, proselytes who worshiped with the Jews to the extent they were allowed, came to Philip asking permission to see Jesus too. Jesus' answer to Philip and Andrew is puzzling: "'The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.'" What does that have to do with their request to see Him?
The invitation to see Jesus weaves through John. Jesus first issued it when two disciples met Him for the first time and asked, "'Where do you stay?'" His answer: "'Come and see'" - John 1:39. Later the same Philip from our story answered Nathanael's question about Jesus: "'Can any good come out of Galilee?'" with "'Come and see'" - John 1:46. Then the Samaritan woman invited her neighbours to check out Jesus with, "'Come, see a Man who told me all things I ever did'" - John 4:29.
The people of Jesus' day saw Him as a human marvel of miracle-working and mind-reading wisdom. As He rode into Jerusalem, they saw Him as their Messiah. However, in our passage today we are ushered into a whole new stage of "seeing' Jesus. The IVP Commentary explains it well:
"When Andrew and Philip announce the coming of the Greeks something wondrous happens. It triggers the moment the reader has been anticipating since the story began: Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified" (v. 23). As with all his cryptic sayings, this response addresses the issue, but it does so in ways incomprehensible at the time. He does not speak directly to the Greeks, but he speaks of their place in his community in the future. For he reveals that it is time for his death to take place, through which a great crop will be produced (v. 24) as he draws all men to himself (v. 32)" - The IVP New Testament Commentary Series accessed through Biblegateway.com.
Jesus calls his death "'glorification.'" How can death on a cross be considered this?
"It may seem strange to refer to Jesus' death as a glorification. But the death is at the heart of the Son's revelation of the Father, for God is love and love is the laying down of one's life (cf. 1 Jn 4:8; 3:16). So in the cross the heart of God is revealed most clearly" - Ibid.
In this time of our preparation to celebrate Jesus' passion, let's review the significance of these scenes and teachings from Jesus' life and "see" in Him God's love, willing to be sacrificed as a seed so we could have eternal life.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for this image of You as the seed of a God of love, willing to sacrifice Yourself so we could have life. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.