Lent Reading: John 12:12-33
Some Greeks asked one of the Disciples if they could see Jesus. This was just after what the event we remember on Palm Sunday, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. A startling start to the final week before his death on a cross.
These foreigners were outsiders to the Israelite faith but attracted to worship Israel’s God through her religious festivals. Because of their nationality, they were unable to belong or participate, restricted to only observe. They would have been observers of the passion of the crowd as they shouted “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”(v13). They would have heard the miraculous stories surrounding Jesus, especially that of Lazurus’ resurrection from the dead. Keen to come even closer to what was clearly incredible, they ask Philip, “we would like to see Jesus.”
Jesus response doesn’t appear to address their request. He ruminates on seeds, plants, death and life. It is not until v32 the imagery converges to clarity:
“I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
Jesus describes how he sees his impending, brutal death. What looks like a tragic failure, is as a seed dying to bring new life to all people, including foreigners. If these Greeks are to really see Jesus, then Jesus must continue to the cross to die. Through his death, life will come to more people. Because of the cross, those who are near to God and those who are far can now belong.
Followers of Jesus live in this reality today. We who are far have been drawn to Jesus and discover rich love and life in God. Do we know any like these Greeks? People, who are distant from God but seeking, attracted? Jesus died for them, to draw them to himself. For Jesus, this was a deeply troubling task (v27), but he was not dissuaded. For this reason, he had come. May we never let our family or friends down by not offering them the opportunity to know Jesus. Where we see seekers, let us bring them to him.