Today’s Passage: John 12:20-36
Over the last three weeks, our morning service has been looking at God’s message through the prophet Hosea. Hosea tells of the greatest love story this universe has ever heard. It tells of God’s love for His people. It’s a story of God’s incredible faithfulness, contrasted with the unbelievable unfaithfulness of us – His people.
Our God is the God who does not easily give up on us. He is certainly the God of justice, but He is also love. Since before the world began, God knew that us humans would rebel against Him. Since before the world began, He planned His great rescue mission. And He put it into action. He chose one man – Abraham – to make Himself known to humanity. He promised that man that through His offspring, all the nations of the world would be blessed.
Later, God called Moses – a descendant of Abraham – to lead His people out of slavery in Egypt. Through Moses, God covenanted – contracted – Himself to His people: they would be His people, and He would be their God. They had the privilege of being His representatives to the world. They experienced God for themselves. But they, like all humans, were still rebels. And rather than representing God to the world, they brought His Name into disrepute among the nations.
But God’s plan was still in motion – because God is faithful to His promises, and because God loves us.
God became human. The One who made the universe stepped into it, born of the virgin Mary – a descendant of Abraham. Jesus announced the availability of the Kingdom of God. He forgave people their sins, and gave us glimpses of what life in God’s Kingdom is like.
And that promise to Abraham – it was being fulfilled.
John tells the story of Jesus – the light of the world – stepping into the darkness of our world. And throughout John’s good news about Jesus, John telegraphs that something big is going to happen. An hour was coming. Jesus’ time was coming.
And the hour starts here, in John 12. It starts with some Greeks arriving and asking to see Jesus. These may not have been literally people from Greece: Greeks could mean simply that they weren’t Jewish. I suspect that these were God-fearers: non-Jews who feared God, and devoted themelves to Him, but who weren’t willing to become Jewish. They were the religious hangers-on; people who saw that there was something real in Judaism, but who couldn’t bring themselves to commit completely. (And becoming Jewish wasn’t necessarily all that easy… it even involved surgery!)
It’s possible that these men had been around in the temple area when Jesus had cleared it. Mark 11:15-18 tells the story. One of the things Jesus highlighted at that time was how God’s Temple was to be called a house of prayer for all nations. Perhaps – and this is pure speculation – that had piqued the curiosity of these men. Certainly, the temple wasn’t a very inclusive space. Non-Jews could access the outer court of the Gentiles. But going past the little wall to the next courtyard – that was a capital offense.
They wanted to see Jesus. And for Jesus, that was the sign that the hour had come. The hour for Him to be lifted up, drawing all men to Himself. The hour for Him to cast out Satan – the prince of this world.
The hour for the dividing wall between humanity and God to be torn down by His sacrificial death. The hour for sin to be dealt with. The hour for God’s faithful love to pay the utmost price to win us back to Himself.
The hour when the dark struck at the light.
Not realising that The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:5) Jesus died – but death could not hold Him.