Today we will be studying part 2 of 2 on Holy Monday, the events of which are only found in John’s Gospel account. The lesson is of utmost importance, and especially to people on the fence, those who have not fully engaged with the Gospel message, or allowed their lives to be transformed by a Gospel-centered world view.
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Section 130a | The Request of some Greeks to see Jesus
20 Now1 there were certain Greeks2 among those that went up to worship at the feast.3 21 These, therefore, came to Philip,4 who was from Bethsaida of Galilee,5 and asked him, saying, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.”6 22 Philip came and told Andrew,7 and in turn, Andrew came with Philip, and they told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered8 them, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Most certainly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat9 falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.10 25 He who loves his life will lose it.11 He who hates his life12 in this world will keep it to eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, let him follow me. Where I am, there my servant will also be. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.13 27 “Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this time?’ But I came to this time for this cause.14 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came out of the sky, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”15 29 Therefore the multitude who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”16 30 Jesus answered, “This voice hasn’t come for my sake, but for your sakes.17 31 Now is the judgment of this world.18 Now the prince of this world will be cast out.19 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”20 33 But he said this, signifying by what kind of death he should die. 34 The multitude answered him, “We have heard out of the law that the Christ remains forever. 21How do you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up?’ Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus therefore said to them, “Yet a little while the light is with you.22 Walk while you have the light, that darkness doesn’t overtake you. He who walks in the darkness doesn’t know where he is going. 36a While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light.”
Section 130b | Different Responses to Jesus and His response to the Crowds
36b Jesus said these things, and he departed and hid himself from them. 37 But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they didn’t believe in him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke,“Lord, who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this cause they couldn’t believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and he hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and would turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things when he saw his glory, and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless even many of the rulers believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they didn’t confess it, so that they wouldn’t be put out of the synagogue, 43 for they loved men’s praise more than God’s praise. 44 Jesus cried out and said,“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me, but in him who sent me. 45 He who sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness. 47 If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn’t believe, I don’t judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects me, and doesn’t receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke will judge him in the last day. 49 For I spoke not from myself, but the Father who sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 I know that his commandment is eternal life. The things therefore which I speak, even as the Father has said to me, so I speak.”
- As in the Sorites paradox you must admit the presence of a heap sooner or later, so when do you truly become a follower of Christ?
- What is it that you value most in life? What would utterly change the meaning of your life if you possessed it?
- Failing to practice self denial can cost you plenty: your legacy, as well your own well being and that of others. What ways have you denied yourself pleasures and gained a greater blessing or spared yourself and other pain, and death?
- Having eternal life (salvation through faith) is not the end all goal – It is a new beginning. How does one continue to grow spiritually and gain life that is more abundant (John 10:10)? What godly work began after you became a disciple? What else had to transpire before you were prepared for that service?
We would see Jesus, Author: Anna Bartlett Warner (1852); Tune: “Consolation” (Mendelssohn)
(verses 1,2 used in our closing prayer)
- While the chronology has its benefits here again we must remind you again to remember the context and intent of each Gospel writer. The preceding verses of John 20:14-19 he recounts Jesus triumphal entry and the throngs of people, Jews and Greeks, who were there in Jerusalem for Passover, who marveled at the opportunity to meet, learn, and even convert to the way – and the ire and envy of the religious leaders who understood that His ways would put an end to their ways.
- Note on John 7:35, where we have the same word in the original, and Acts 6:1; Acts 9:29; and Acts 11:20. They were not Hellenists, i.e., Greek Jews, but Hellenes, i.e., Gentiles. (Read the article: “Strangers in Ancient Bible Texts” for more in depth exposition. They belonged to the class known as “Proselytes of the Gate.” (Comp. Notes on Matthew 23:15 and Acts 8:27.) Being so they were allowed to offer sacrifice and to worship in the court of the Gentiles and also worship and the Passover. However Jewish customs required strict separation from all foreign peoples (Ezra 10:11; Neh. 9:2) and all those who didn’t strictly observe the Law (Ezra 6:22; Neh. 10:29) – Read more about the Court of the Gentiles.
- The Feast of the Passover
- Remember it was John who retold the story of how Philip came to meet and follow Jesus (Jn 1:43-51, §28, HB study). Philip had invited Nathanael to become a disciple of the Messiah. His logical mind, which helped him to recognize the Messiah, was also a stumbling block to his faith. Philip’s story of faith also includes “the feeding of the 5000” (§72c) which was based there in near his home town. More on Philip. Its interesting then that these Greeks sough out Philip. It could be that they identified well with his personality and manner of thinking, as they wanted to weigh the facts and meet the Messiah. Few facts or many, they like Philip and all of us will still need to rely on faith (CR 2 Cor. 4:18, Mt 11:21) and that faith should then be the catalyst for godly action.
- Bethdaisda in Galilee is a small fishing village on the northeastern shore of the Sea on Galilee.
- No doubt they had seen Jesus during his triumphal entry, they wanted to meet and talk with Jesus to determine if they too would believe in Jesus as the Messiah and become his disciple.
- Who was also from Bethsaida.
- As to if the Greeks should be admitted or not, his answer appears vague or perhaps to the Greek mind it was enticing. See our notes below.
- Interesting that the Greek word here, Sitos, is a synecdoche which corresponds to the plant and the seed itself (and all types of human food and sometimes was used for wheat, corn and barley). Today’s a stalk of hybrid wheat can have up to 200 grains per stock, or up to 30 per head, however most wild wheat has between 10-18 grains per stalk. CR Jn 4:35-36.
- Jesus is clearly using this metaphor to speak of his death, see vs 27.
- The person who loves (phileō) his life (Gk psyche) is one who is living for the now. It’s one of the basic lessons Jesus offering during the Sermon on the Mount found in §54a-i immediately after he chose the 12 Apostles from among the disciples (CR Mt 6:19, §54g HB Study)
- That is “loves it less” (miseō) – Jesus is reminding his followers in earshot and these Greeks that the life of his disciples requires self-denial, turning away from human pleasures that obstruct your path as you aim to glorify, commune, obey and serve God. (CR Jn 15, Mt 16:23-25)
- To the Greeks Jesus’ reply probably resonated with a familiar saying by Plato the Greek Philosopher of the 4-5th century BC who said “man is a being in search of meaning” or that of Aristotle (384-322 BC) who said, “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” There is another story of how Plato learned to discern true love in a wheat field and the Sorites paradox of the heap posited by Megarian logician Eubulides of Miletus (the Greek Socratic Philosopher c. 435 – c. 365 BC, modern day Turkey) as compared to Jesus’ paradox which has no wiggle room or vagueness in it at all. All these sayings were most likely engraved in their minds even though they had converted to Judaism. They were a part of their values, tethers which helped form their values yet Jesus presented them something of much great value.
- Jesus has known his purpose from before time, and explained such to his disciples on several occasions (§83, 88, 125a, 132b and reaffirmed as part of God’s master plan in Lk 24:26, Acts 2:23-24, 4:27-28).
- God did glorify Jesus’ life once again when he rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and sat at the right hand of God. But like the seed of wheat which produces not just one more seed but stocks of wheat, he then released the Holy Spirit and infilled his disciples with the power and authority of God, which empowered them to bear new life by preaching the Gospel, healing and ministering to the needs of those they met.
- John Gills notes in 1Cor 13:1, shed some light on what might have happened here. Was it simply thunder and lore of angels or the the angels really speak so that some heard and understood the voice. Further reading of the speach of angles will also lead you to discover Dr. Lightfoot’s research of R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, a contemporary with the apostles. Reportedly Jochanan, a disciple of Hillel, was well regarded and able to understand (trv ykalm txyvw Mydv txyv) , “the speech of demons”, and “the speech of the ministering angels”. See also: Bat kol.
- To what end? To believe in Christ accepting him to be the Messiah, and be saved.
- The time is so very near, days away, and the Jewish people who rejected him will condemned for the sin of rejecting Christ.
- In this we understand that through the cross, Jesus overthrew the stronghold which the Devil held on all humanity. This should give each human being and especially every believer great confidence and courage to overcome any and each temptation. CR Jn 14:30, Jn 16:8-11, Jn 18:32, Jn 21:19, Lk 10:17-19, 2 Cor 4:4, Heb 2:14, Eph 6:12, 1Jn 3:8.
- According to his eternal purpose, by the power of his might, through his eternal Word delivered the world around through the ministry of the Apostles, and of disciples through the ages which produces faith, good deeds and godliness.
- Gill’s commentary on this verse will again prove helpful. In part it points to various Bible passages (not the Torah) which “speak of the perpetuity of his priesthood and the everlasting duration of his kingdom” (Ps 45:6, 72:17, 89:36-37, 110:4, Dan 2:44, 7:13-14).
- Jesus is the “Light of the World” Jn 8:12, but in a matter of days he will be crucified.