Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 19 2020 - John 12:20-50 – We would see Jesus

In John 12 we read that some Greeks, that is, some Greek speaking Gentiles (non Jews), came to Philip asking to see Jesus. Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip then together went to tell Jesus. But Jesus’ response seems rather odd – indeed, we never do learn whether the Greeks managed to see Jesus. Instead, Jesus begins to speak about his approaching death.

Jesus declares that the time has now come for him to lay down his life. His death will be like a seed being planted in the soil. The seed must die, but in doing so it will bear fruit.

On the face of it, Jesus’ words seem to be a very strange response to the request of Greeks to meet with him. But not so strange perhaps when Jesus goes on to describe his death in these terms, “When I am lifted up I will draw all manner of people to myself” (John 12:32). Jesus’ death and resurrection will be the means by which God’s promise to Abraham will at last find its fulfilment, “Through you, all peoples on earth will be blessed.”

A few Greeks were asking to see Jesus. Jesus says that a time of crisis has now arrived through which their desire will be answered in a way beyond their imagination. Jesus has come as the light of the world and many are being drawn into the light – even some from among the Gentiles. But the powers of darkness are gathering as the Jewish authorities put together their plans to destroy Jesus. How will it all end? Jesus came into the world for this very crisis – he came for “this hour”. Nor is there any doubt about how it will end, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out” (12:31).

Jesus faces the cross with horror (see v 27) yet also with anticipation of victory. The cross may seem to be the place where Jesus is judged and executed, but in reality it is the place where the prince of this world is judged; the darkness that gathers and threatens to put out the light will be utterly defeated. The cross which was designed to humiliate Christ and expose the emptiness of his claims becomes the place of Christ’s enthronement and vindication; this is where the Son of Man will be glorified. And as a result of his victory he will draw all peoples to himself. The arms that were stretched out on the cross “would all mankind embrace.”

Already we see the seed beginning to bear fruit – a few Greeks are seeking Jesus and even a few of the Jewish leaders have come to believe in him. Beyond the cross and resurrection, thousands upon thousands will believe in him, both Jews and Gentiles. He will save for himself a people from every nation, language and ethnic group until there stands before him in glory a great crowd beyond all numbering.

As we follow the news there is much that causes pain and discouragement. It may seem that the darkness has not diminished as we read of violence, hatred, injustice and plain evil and as many lives are enslaved to damaging addictions. Where will it all end? Yet we also see that there are many who are still seeking Jesus. The powers of darkness will not have the last word.

Father God, as Jesus your Son taught us, so we pray that your kingdom may come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. This is our longing and our prayer. Help us by your Spirit to work for the coming of your kingdom and to lead many to the Lord Jesus.

Peter Misselbrook