John 12:20-26

Read: John 12:20-26

The Jewish diaspora after their exile in Babylon had sent Jews to the many places scattered throughout the Roman world and beyond. Every place they went, the Jews would generally band together to maintain their culture and religion, and out of this was born the synagogue system. It was not practical for Jews to travel the great distance to Jerusalem to celebrate feasts, but some did travel the distance. Where ever the Jews went, they encountered people and some of them converted to Judaism as a result. The Greeks John mentions were some of these Greek proselytes that had traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover, perhaps the most important feast on the calendar in Judaism. These Greeks had apparently heard about Jesus and sought him out. They go by way of Phillip, who tells Andrew, who then both go to Jesus on behalf of the Jews.

What is interesting is that Jesus announces that his hour to be glorified in the presence of both Greeks and Jews, and three parallel statements concerning the nature of fruit, eternal life, and following Jesus. First, Jesus speaks of a grain falling on the road, and that the grain by itself will not bear fruit, but if it does die, it bears much fruit. This is a lead in to the next paradoxical statement concerning life: he who loves his life will lose it, but he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. (The other gospels record slight variations of this saying in Matthew 10:18, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33). Jesus then puts this in the context of service to himself and God. The one who wants to follow Jesus will be honored by God. Serving God requires one to die to one’s self so that that person can reap a harvest, reap eternal life, and receive rewards from God. Jesus does not make any stipulations about race or family origin rather in the presence of Greeks and Jews; he makes truth about following him in the presence of them all.

When one comes to Jesus, where one comes from does not matter. One can be from any family background, creed, country, or social status. What does matter is that one considers what it takes to follow Christ. The idea of “hating” one’s life in this world will not sit well with some. The purpose of doing this is to bear fruit for the kingdom’s sake, save life in to life eternal, and to obey the commands of Jesus. Eternal life is indeed a gift from God and Jesus does bring abundant and eternal life, but the manifestations of many of these promises are not revealed on earth. Many who had faith died without seeing the promises of God revealed (Hebrews 11:13).  Hebrews 11:38-40 talks about these witnesses of whom the world was not worthy. What God does provide is far superior to what the world can provide, but it requires temporary suffering for a great gain. Paul calls it a “light affliction” compared to the weight of glory that waits (2 Corinthians 15:14-16). Christians can rest assured of this and follow wholeheartedly to bear fruit so many can be saved!

Lord, help me to consider this world’s suffering light compared to the weight of glory!