The crowds roared with “Hosanna!!! Hosanna!!!” as Jesus meandered His way along the dusty path into Jerusalem. It must have been a spectacle to see so many hundreds or thousands of people with palm branches hurrying to line the way and cheer Jesus as He entered the city. The trap that was set by the religious leaders to capture Jesus quietly would certainly not work with this large crowd worshipping Him. If they tried to arrest Him in this moment, they would certainly be torn to pieces by the mob.
Along the path, as Jesus made His way into the city, a group of Greeks, probably proselytes (converts to the Jewish faith), approached Philip. “We would like to speak to Jesus,” they said as they came close. The request probably caught Philip off guard, since the entire procession was a little bit loud and he wouldn’t know if Jesus wanted to stop to talk to this little group of Gentiles. Philip asked Andrew for some advice, and Andrew and Philip finally took these Greeks to Jesus. John doesn’t record what their question was, but he does record what the answer of Jesus was to them.
“The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” This must have seemed obvious to them. “Glorified” carries with it the idea of “crowned, anointed, coronated,” and now Jesus was saying that He was going to be glorified. Everyone who had seen the procession and understood that King Solomon had ridden into Jerusalem on a mule when he was crowned King of Israel, could see that Jesus was going to be glorified. But their understanding of “glorified” was a bit short-sighted. They imagined that He would be establishing His throne and would be throwing off the Roman oppressors. In their minds, no longer would the filthy Roman rabble be dominating the Jewish people, rather Jesus would become the rightful ruler from the throne in Jerusalem.
With the thinking that Jesus had come as the prophesied Messiah to set their people free, it must have been confusing when He said the next statement, “Except a kernel of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” He continued on with, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” He finished with, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” In this one series of statements, Jesus was unfolding how He was the true Messiah.
He had come to bring liberty, but not temporal liberty from the oppressors that would eventually grow old and die themselves, but rather, liberty from the indomitable oppressors, death and sin. Jesus had come to die. It was the purpose for which He came to earth; Scripture tells us that He was “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the earth.” His glorification would come through His death. He would be raised by God and seated above every throne, including the one in Rome. He would conquer all, but first, He had to be obedient to God and become like a kernel of wheat. When planted in the ground, a kernel, or a seed , first decomposes a bit before the life inside of it can be opened and carried out into a manifold harvest. Similarly, Jesus prophesied that through His death, many would come in faith and receive eternal life. Many could come, including these Greek proselytes. Jesus had come as the Messiah for the whole world. His salvation would be for any and all who would come in faith relying only on the saving work that He would accomplish on the cross.
Food For Thought: What is a proselyte? What did Jesus prophecy about to these Greek proselytes?