Summary: Sir, we would see Jesus!
PASSION SUNDAY – JOHN 12 V20-32
Today is Passion Sunday. Today throughout the world people will meet together to worship God and to recollect the Passion (the life, death, resurrection of Jesus). I want us together to look at an incident in the life of Jesus as recorded for us in John’s gospel chapter 12.
VERSES 20-22 SIR, WE WOULD SEE JESUS.
But as we begin let me ask you a question: Do you remember as a child pushing and shoving your way to the front of a crowd of people? Maybe they were your contemporaries and you wanted to see what they were seeing. You may have even shouted ‘let me see, let me see.’ Or you may remember a time when you asked your mum or dad: ‘can I see?’ In today’s gospel reading we have some men who come to Philip, one of Christ’s disciples, and they ask ‘Sir, we would see Jesus?’ How often I wish someone would come up to me and ask that question. You know only a few weeks ago someone asked that question going out of church and what rejoicing there was that day as we prayed together and they accepted Jesus into their heart and life.
These Greeks come to Philip – what was it about Philip that whenever we meet him in the Bible he is bringing people to Jesus? We cannot be certain but there must have been something about him that led people to come and ask him questions about Jesus. I think he must have been a man who was sympathetic, approachable and easy to talk to. Not a pushy disciple, just content to bring people to Jesus. You know there must have been something about Philip that made these men know he was a disciple of Jesus and that he could introduce them to Jesus. Now here are two questions for us all at the beginning of this sermon – Do people know I am a disciple of Jesus? Would they approach me to be introduced to Jesus? Well Andrew and Philip may not have had all the answers but this they did know, and this we all need to know this morning, no seeker was a nuisance to Jesus. They do not shrink back from bringing people to meet with Jesus. They had no fear that he would say ‘I am tired, now is not the right time.’ They may not have known much but this they did know there was (and is) and ever open door into the presence of Jesus. So they bring these Greeks to Jesus.
Who were these men? John does not tell us, but it is just possible that these Greeks were Gentile converts to Judaism. It is just possible that they had been in the Court of the Gentiles in the Temple when Jesus overturned the tables and drove out the money changers. They come to Philip because of all the disciples he has a Greek name. They come and they ask him to introduce them to Christ Jesus.
VERSES 23-26 LIFE COMES THROUGH DEATH.
Philip takes them to Andrew and they together take them to Jesus and out of this encounter Christ proclaims that the ‘hour of his glory is now come.’ I want to concentrate this morning on what Jesus meant by that statement.
Turn with me to verse 23. John records here for us Jesus’ response to this request of Andrew and Philip. ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.’ Then to help his hearers understand exactly what is being said her Jesus uses a grain of wheat to teach about life coming only through death.
Look at this grain of wheat. A single grain of wheat. Small, hard, gnarled and yet within it is all the potential of a healthy stalk and many ears of wheat. Yet this grain of wheat will never bear fruit in my hand. It will never bear fruit, never fulfil it’s purpose in life if I do not plant it in soil and allow it to die. It is by being planted in the ground, in the tomb of the earth, dying and being changed that it becomes a stalk from which many ears sprout. Friends Jesus is teaching a profound truth here about his own life and about our lives. Let me deal with each for a moment.
The whole understanding of what Jesus is saying here hinges on a right understanding of what he means when he says ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.’ For the Hebrews amongst his hearers this phrase would have almost taken their breath away. Their minds would immediately be cast back to Daniel 7 and the prophetic picture of the Son of Man who would bring in a new era of peace and harmony in contrast to the tyrannical rule of mankind. By the time of Christ the ‘glory of the Son of Man’ was wrapped in hopes of military victory and political freedom for the nation of Israel over those who occupied their land. So their idea of glory was one of might and power, of battles fought and great victories achieved. For them when they heard ‘the Son of Man glorified’ they would have thought the mighty champion of heaven is come, the trumpet call of eternity has sounded and the might of heaven on the march. Yet to Christ nothing could have been further from his mind. To help them, and us, understand ‘glory’ Jesus takes a grain of wheat and teaches that his ‘glory’ is found in ‘death.’