Psalm 51:1-13 or Psalm 119:9-16
Hebrews 5:5-10, John 12:20-33
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
- John 12:20-23
Two decades later, Paul would write to the Galatians: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). That’s still a stunning revelation, and I like to think it began at this oft-ignored moment in John’s gospel which we read today.
I get the feeling that Jesus’ disciples are feeling anxious and protective by this time. These Greeks can’t just approach Jesus without security clearance. Earlier in his ministry, maybe Jesus would have made sure he was more available to outsiders. But the anxiety in the air is thick, even for Jesus himself. He’s steeling himself for the final confrontation with the forces of evil, a confrontation that he knows he must lose. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).
This moment, the moment when some Greeks get curious enough to approach Jesus in curiosity, is the moment when Jesus brings the ministry of the Son of Man to a close. Now he knows that the spark will catch and the flame will spread. No longer is this Good News only for Jesus’ own people. Now it is for the entire world, beginning with the Greeks. Now the promise God gave to Abraham so many centuries ago is about to achieve its fulfillment: “… and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).
But, hang on. Do these Greeks ever get to talk with Jesus? We never find out.
- Josh Hosler