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Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

Jesus Speaks about His Death

27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”

The Unbelief of the People

After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.


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Joh 12:20-36. Some Greeks Desire to See JesusThe Discourse and Scene Thereupon.

20-22. Greeks—Not Grecian Jews, but Greek proselytes to the Jewish faith, who were wont to attend the annual festivals, particularly this primary one, the Passover.

The same came therefore to Philip … of Bethsaida—possibly as being from the same quarter.

saying, Sir, we would see Jesus—certainly in a far better sense than Zaccheus (Lu 19:3). Perhaps He was then in that part of the temple court to which Gentile proselytes had no access. "These men from the west represent, at the end of Christ's life, what the wise men from the east represented at its beginning; but those come to the cross of the King, even as these to His manger" [Stier].

22. Philip … telleth Andrew—As follow townsmen of Bethsaida (Joh 1:44), these two seem to have drawn to each other.

Andrew and Philip tell Jesus—The minuteness of these details, while they add to the graphic force of the narrative, serves to prepare us for something important to come out of this introduction.

23-26. Jesus answered them, The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified—that is, They would see Jesus, would they? Yet a little moment, and they shall see Him so as now they dream not of. The middle wall of partition that keeps them out from the commonwealth of Israel is on the eve of breaking down, "and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, shall draw all men unto Me"; I see them "flying as a cloud, and as doves to their cotes"—a glorious event that will be for the Son of man, by which this is to be brought about. It is His death He thus sublimely and delicately alluded to. Lost in the scenes of triumph which this desire of the Greeks to see Him called up before His view, He gives no direct answer to their petition for an interview, but sees the cross which was to bring them gilded with glory.

24. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit—The necessity of His death is here brightly expressed, and its proper operation and fruit—life springing forth out of death—imaged forth by a beautiful and deeply significant law of the vegetable kingdom. For a double reason, no doubt, this was uttered—to explain what he had said of His death, as the hour of His own glorification, and to sustain His own Spirit under the agitation which was mysteriously coming over it in the view of that death.

25. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal—(See on Lu 9:24). Did our Lord mean to exclude Himself from the operation of the great principle here expressed—self-renunciation, the law of self-preservation; and its converse, self-preservation, the law of self-destruction? On the contrary, as He became Man to exemplify this fundamental law of the Kingdom of God in its most sublime form, so the very utterance of it on this occasion served to sustain His own Spirit in the double prospect to which He had just alluded.

26. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: If any man serve me, him will my Father honourJesus here claims the same absolute subjection to Himself, as the law of men's exaltation to honor, as He yielded to the Father.

27, 28. Now is my soul troubled—He means at the prospect of His death, just alluded to. Strange view of the Cross this, immediately after representing it as the hour of His glory! (Joh 12:23). But the two views naturally meet, and blend into one. It was the Greeks, one might say, that troubled Him. Ah! they shall see Jesus, but to Him it shall be a costly sight.

and what shall I say?—He is in a strait betwixt two. The death of the cross was, and could not but be, appalling to His spirit. But to shrink from absolute subjection to the Father, was worse still. In asking Himself, "What shall I say?" He seems as if thinking aloud, feeling His way between two dread alternatives, looking both of them sternly in the face, measuring, weighing them, in order that the choice actually made might be seen, and even by himself the more vividly felt, to be a profound, deliberate, spontaneous election.

Father, save me from this hour—To take this as a question—"Shall I say, Father, save me," &c.—as some eminent editors and interpreters do, is unnatural and jejune. It is a real petition, like that in Gethsemane, "Let this cup pass from Me"; only whereas there He prefaces the prayer with an "If it be possible," here He follows it up with what is tantamount to that—"Nevertheless for this cause came I unto this hour." The sentiment conveyed, then, by the prayer, in both cases, is twofold: (1) that only one thing could reconcile Him to the death of the cross—its being His Father's will He should endure it—and (2) that in this view of it He yielded Himself freely to it. What He recoils from is not subjection to His Father's will: but to show how tremendous a self-sacrifice that obedience involved, He first asks the Father to save Him from it, and then signifies how perfectly He knows that He is there for the very purpose of enduring it. Only by letting these mysterious words speak their full meaning do they become intelligible and consistent. As for those who see no bitter elements in the death of Christ—nothing beyond mere dying—what can they make of such a scene? and when they place it over against the feelings with which thousands of His adoring followers have welcomed death for His sake, how can they hold Him up to the admiration of men?

28. Father, glorify thy name—by a present testimony.

I have both glorified it—referring specially to the voice from heaven at His baptism, and again at His transfiguration.

and will glorify it again—that is, in the yet future scenes of His still deeper necessity; although this promise was a present and sublime testimony, which would irradiate the clouded spirit of the Son of man.

29-33. The people therefore that stood by, said, It thundered; others, An angel spake to him—some hearing only a sound, others an articulate, but to them unintelligible voice.

30. Jesus … said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes—that is, probably, to correct the unfavorable impressions which His momentary agitation and mysterious prayer for deliverance may have produced on the by-standers.

31. Now is the judgment of this world—the world that "crucified the Lord of glory" (1Co 2:8), considered as a vast and complicated kingdom of Satan, breathing his spirit, doing his work, and involved in his doom, which Christ's death by its hands irrevocably sealed.

now shall the prince of this world be cast out—How differently is that fast-approaching "hour" regarded in the kingdoms of darkness and of light! "The hour of relief; from the dread Troubler of our peace—how near it is! Yet a little moment, and the day is ours!" So it was calculated and felt in the one region. "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out," is a somewhat different view of the same event. We know who was right. Though yet under a veil, He sees the triumphs of the Cross in unclouded and transporting light.

32. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me—The "I" here is emphatic—I, taking the place of the world's ejected prince. "If lifted up," means not only after that I have been lifted up, but, through the virtue of that uplifting. And truly, the death of the Cross, in all its significance, revealed in the light, and borne in upon the heart, by the power of the Holy Ghost, possesses an attraction over the wide world—to civilized and savage, learned and illiterate, alike—which breaks down all opposition, assimilates all to itself, and forms out of the most heterogeneous and discordant materials a kingdom of surpassing glory, whose uniting principle is adoring subjection "to Him that loved them." "Will draw all men 'UNTO ME,'" says He. What lips could venture to utter such a word but His, which "dropt as an honeycomb," whose manner of speaking was evermore in the same spirit of conscious equality with the Father?

33. This he said, signifying what death he should die—that is, "by being lifted up from the earth" on "the accursed tree" (Joh 3:14; 8:28).

34. We have heard out of the law—the scriptures of the Old Testament (referring to such places as Ps 89:28, 29; 110:4; Da 2:44; 7:13, 14).

that Christ—the Christ "endureth for ever."

and how sayest thou, The Son of Man must be lifted up, &c.—How can that consist with this "uplifting?" They saw very well both that He was holding Himself up as the Christ and a Christ to die a violent death; and as that ran counter to all their ideas of the Messianic prophecies, they were glad to get this seeming advantage to justify their unyielding attitude.

35, 36. Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, &c.—Instead of answering their question, He warns them, with mingled majesty and tenderness, against trifling with their last brief opportunity, and entreats them to let in the Light while they have it in the midst of them, that they themselves might be "light in the Lord." In this case, all the clouds which hung around His Person and Mission would speedily be dispelled, while if they continued to hate the light, bootless were all His answers to their merely speculative or captious questions. (See on Lu 13:23).

36. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them—He who spake as never man spake, and immediately after words fraught with unspeakable dignity and love, had to "hide Himself" from His auditors! What then must they have been? He retired, probably to Bethany. (The parallels are: Mt 21:17; Lu 21:37).




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