Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
John 12:20 – 23
As a Bible teacher and having spent some time teaching, serving and ministering in churches, I’ve had the privilege of seeing a side of pulpits that many seldom see. On the audience side of the pulpit there is usually ornamentation, perhaps a carved figure or a cross. On the speaker’s side there are less glamorous things: buttons to push, wires to trip over, stacks of books, glasses, fans, heaters, and so on. I have been in pulpits held up by hymnbooks. I have been in pulpits equipped with a clock—so the speaker knows when to stop. Sometimes there are signs: “The service ends at 12:00 noon” or “When the red light goes on you will have just two minutes remaining.”
There is one pulpit that I frequently recall. It is the pulpit of the little chapel in Newport Beach, which I visited many years ago, while working as a musician. On this particular pulpit was a quotation from the Bible, which faces the preacher as he stands to address his congregation. It is a short quotation, but a stunning one. It simply says, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
“We wish to see Jesus!” That is a good word for any preacher. But at the same time, the sentence is also a word for all who hear or read messages. Would you see Jesus? If that is the case, then in one sense you will never be disappointed; for you will find Jesus.
This was the very question posed to Philip, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” I do not know what Andrew and Philip were expecting when they first told Jesus that the Greeks had come to see him. But I am certain they were completely surprised by his answer. What was the significance of the Greeks? Clearly, they were a sign that the turning point had come, as a result of which salvation would now be offered to Greeks as well as to Jews. Indeed, it would be the beginning of the proclamation of the gospel to the entire world.
It was obviously glorifying to Christ to have the Greeks come to him, indeed, to have all men come to him for salvation. In our lives and relationships with others, we tend to think in the opposite way – we tend to think that we have arrived when we are exclusive. Jesus did not think this way. Rather, his glory consisted in opening the doors wider and wider, so that at last men and women from every tribe and race would be members of his spiritual family.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (v. 24)
In answering the Greeks, Jesus didn’t allude to Old Testament prophecy as He did on other occasions. Instead, He talked about a grain of wheat falling into the ground. Why? Because these Greeks would be far more familiar with science, nature, and philosophy than with Old Testament prophecy. Therefore, Jesus gave Andrew and Philip an analogy the Greeks would understand readily when He said, “You can’t see the potential of a grain of wheat until it dies. So, too, the only way you can see Me is in light of My death, burial, and resurrection.”
This is true for all of us. Unless we see Jesus in light of what He did at Calvary, we’ll miss Him. Truly, it doesn’t matter who you’re talking with or what you’re facing, the answer for everyone is always found at the foot of the Cross. I believe that with all of my heart.
“If the Lord loves me, why did my husband leave me?” says the brokenhearted woman. “I don’t understand.” I don’t either. But this I do know: Jesus’ arms are open on the Cross of Calvary, and He’s saying to you with all His heart, “Trust Me. You watch. You wait. You’ll see that out of death comes life.”
It’s so great to be a believer, because in every situation, we get to take people to the Cross and say, “Here’s your answer. The love that pinned Jesus to the Cross and the power that resurrected Him from the grave are all you need.”
Here is Christ’s glory, that he died for us; and it is in this above all else that he should be honored. Will you honor him? The best way is by coming to him in faith in order to receive him as your Savior. Or, if you already know him as your Savior, it is by having the intimate relationship He desires to have with you; living as he lived and by bringing others to him.