And Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.John 12:23(NASB)
Three times during His ministry, the Lord Jesus said His hour had not yet come. He first said this to His mother at the wedding in Cana of Galilee at the start of His ministry and again to His siblings, near the end of His ministry, when they mocked their brother about his Messianic claims.
The third time was as He taught in the temple, laying out His Messianic proclamation to the people and testifying that God was His Father. And although His Messianic declaration infuriated the scribes and Pharisees, we read, "but no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come."
There was a specific point when Christ finally said to His disciples, "the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." The hour came after Lazarus had been raised from the dead, demonstrating our Lord's authority over death. It happened after Mary had anointed Christ's feet with oil in preparation for His fast approaching sacrificial death, and it happened after Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey in fulfilment of prophecy... as the crowds who followed Him cheered.
It was also after the Jewish leaders had started plotting to kill Jesus. They had conspired to hold illegal trials, coached people to give false witness against Him, and become deeply disturbed that Lazarus' resurrection from the dead would entice the crowds to follow Him. And finally, the time arrived when Jesus announced to His disciples, "the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."
It happened at the point when some devout Greeks approached the disciples, asking to see Jesus. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, "Sir, we want to see Jesus." I wonder if they chose to approach Philip because he was a Jewish disciple with a Hellenistic name.
Gentiles were there at Christ's birth and various Gentiles had an interchange with Him during His life. And once again at this critical time of His ministry, when the hour for Him to be glorified had finally arrived - we find Greeks desiring to speak with Jesus.
Jesus came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel in fulfilment of prophecy. He came as their Messiah-King, but the Jews rejected Him because He did not fulfil their expectations. "The Jews require a sign," Scripture tells us, but despite authenticating His claims with many signs and wonders, they were not sufficient to satisfy these proud people. However, because of their unbelief, the only sign they were given was the sign of Jonah - the Resurrection.
The Greeks seek after wisdom... and although we do not know why these men asked to see Jesus, it is likely that they heard about His amazing teaching and were seeking after greater wisdom and knowledge, which was so prized by the Gentiles. But Jew and Gentile alike are lost sinners in need of salvation, and reverential fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and faith in Christ is the only way of Salvation.
Jesus did not come to Israel as a mighty conquering hero, to defeat the great Roman empire, as the Jews expected. He did not carry out the 'sign' they expected and so He was rejected by His own people. And did these Greeks hope to elevate Jesus as a wise and knowledgeable teacher and a learned philosopher? We don't know, because no further mention is made of these Gentiles, except that, "Jesus answered the disciples, saying, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.'"
Before Jesus could be crowned as Israel's Messiah or be admired by the Gentiles for His great wisdom, He had to pay the price for the sin of the world - for Jew and Gentile alike. He had to die a sacrificial death so that all who believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.
The Lord Jesus had to become like a little grain of wheat that remains barren and fruitless unless it falls into the ground and dies. THEN it produces fruit - Jewish fruit and Gentile fruit - men and women who believe on His name - redeemed souls that are raised into newness of life.
Had Christ been crowned as the Jewish Messiah and hailed as their conquering hero before dying on the Cross, OR had He been elevated to the heights of a world-renowned philosophical thinker in Gentile regions, He would have remained alone and we would continue to be dead in our sin and without hope in the world.
The hour those Greek believers asked to see Jesus was the very hour for the Son of Man to be glorified. The hour those Gentiles came to see Jesus seemed to be the climatic watershed that caused our Lord to know that the hour had come when He would led as a lamb to the slaughter and given into the hands of wicked men to fulfil God's perfect plan of redemption. And He did this so that the purchase price for sin could be paid in full, with His broken body and shed blood - for you and for me.
Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You for Your amazing plan of redemption and that the Lord Jesus was ready and willing to forgo all human glory and praise and be led as a lamb to the Cross, so that His death could pay the price for my sin and the sin of the whole world. Thank You that Jesus lived a perfect life, foregoing any honour, in order to be made sin on my account and died a cruel death on Calvary's Cross so that by faith in Him I might be forgiven of my sin and receive life everlasting. Praise Your Holy Name, and thank You, Lord Jesus, AMEN.