John 12:20-50 (NRSV)
Some Greeks Wish to See Jesus
20Now 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.
Do you remember? Jesus previously said that the time was not ready (John 2:4 and 7:6). And the fact that His hour had not yet come had delivered Him from violence before (John 7:30, 8:20). Now that the hour has come, it is time for Jesus to make the final sacrifice.
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.”
“Thy will be done.” Sometimes those are hard words to say. Yet — if we believe that God is who he says he is, that he is infinitely loving and willing to sacrifice his own Son for our sakes — these words are the easiest words to say. Joyfully I tell you again, God is for you! He loves you! You can trust him!
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?”
The people had been taught the passages from “the law” (the Old Testament) which speak of the triumph of the Messiah. They were seemingly unaware of the passages that speak of His suffering (such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53). This crowd who waved palm branches with such enthusiasm thought they were welcoming a Messiah who would set up a political, earthly kingdom. They didn’t want to consider His sacrificial death. It didn’t fit in with their idea of what a Messiah should be.
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.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.
“Today is the day of salvation,” Scripture says several times. Do not delay your faithfulness, your obedience, your service to the Lord!
The Unbelief of the People
37Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Lord, who has believed our message,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,
40“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.”
41Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him.
42Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.
Summary of Jesus’ Teaching
44Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.
47I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, 49for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. 50And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
So Jesus reviews his teachings for the people:
that he is one with the Father,
that he has come to bring light and life to people and with his love to save them,
that there are consequences for not believing, and
that all he is speaking is truth.
Yes, Lord, we do believe in you! You are the light of the world!
One of my favorite songs by one of my favorite groups — “Here I Am to Worship” by the Oslo Gospel Choir.
1) How can we do as Jesus says in verse 25 and “hate” our lives? See Hebrews 11:13-16 for one idea . . .
2) In verses 44 and 45 we read of the leaders who were “secret followers” of Jesus because they were afraid they would lose their positions. Is it possible to be a secret follower of Jesus? One commentator wrote, “Only temporarily; either the secrecy will cancel out the belief, or the belief will cancel out the secrecy.” What do you think?
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.