Facing the Cross - by Jeff Byerley

John 12:20-36 Facing the Cross

12:20-22 – Seeking Christ

20 Now there were certain Greeks among those  who came up to worship at the feast. 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

Philip is a Greek name and his home town of Bethsaida was close to the Decapolis, where many Greeks lived.  We have observed that Andrew always seemed to have a role in introducing people to Jesus.  May we too have such a reputation. The Greek men may have been Greek proselytes coming to worship at the Passover Feast.  We noted history has always shown the Greeks to be a nation of great explorers.  500 years earlier the Greek Herodotus had been a famous world traveller.  But their search for discoveries was not just limited to geographic or trade purposes.  In their philosophy they had always been seekers after the truth.  Consider Acts 17:15-!8:1, where Paul explains to their inquiring minds who the unknown God is.  However, their asking after Jesus signals a great change in that the light of Jesus must now reach out to the world through Christ's church.  Some church lecterns / pulpits have printed on them to remind speakers “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”  it is also a reminder that the whole Bible speaks of Jesus.  The Old Testament points to him, the Gospels record his saving words and actions on earth and the rest of the New Testament records Jesus' ongoing work of salvation through the church.

12:23-26 True Glory

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

We agreed that self sacrificing love was the only glory that would change peoples' lives, as Christ would show on the cross.  Military conquerors might leave a foot note in the pages of history but no lasting glory.  This is true of Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, Napoleon etc.  Shelley the English poet once wrote a poem about the shattered statue of Ozymandias in the middle of an empty desert..  “And on the pedestal these words appear, 'Look on my works ye Mighty and despair!'  Nothing beside remains.”  Yet Jesus on the cross was leaving a message that would draw all people to himself.  It was said that “The blood of the Martyrs was the seed of the church.”

12:27-33 Jesus Accepts The Cross

27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

Jesus had never been separated from God the Father.  Yet in bearing our sins on the cross, he would for a time be so separated. There is a torment of the heart for sinners who become separated from God on account of their sins.  It was this troubled heart that Jesus would bear for all sinners, so that they would never be troubled again.  Yet no one naturally wants to bear this agonizing load and die this death on the cross.  But this was the Father's will to save his people and Jesus acceded to this, so that his Father's Name would receive glory.     The Father replies saying he had glorified it (in Jesus' teaching and miraculous works) and would again (on the cross).

29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.”

30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

Verse 29 shows by the people's reactions that this voice was indeed audibly heard, yet the people were not willing to attribute it to God. So Jesus explains (v.30)  that it was for their benefit that the Father spoke, leaving no doubt as to the honor to be attributed to the Son in completing the Father's plan of salvation.

12:34 The People Reject A Suffering Messiah

34 The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?”

in terms of the “Son of Man” and the coming Messiah, the Jews focused only on those scriptures referring to the Messiah as the everlasting conquering hero; Ps. 89:4, Isa. 9:7, Dan. 7:14, Ezek.37:25..  They had ignored OT passages like Isaiah 53 that revealed that the Messiah had first to suffer for them and die.  In particular, Isaiah 53:12 states:

“Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.”

12:35-36 The Light of Jesus

35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

In verses 35-36 Jesus is indicating that his light has been shown by his words and actions on earth.  We are to make the most of his light for our lives.  If we neglect it and lose our way, we will stubble about in the darkness.  It is a familiar theme throughout his ministry (Cf. John 11:9-10).  But these people had rejected Jesus' light.  It was fitting therefore that Jesus departed and was hid from them.