A personal reflection, based on John 12.20-36, for Tuesday in Holy Week, April 16, 2019
Some Greeks came to Philip, saying to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
Philip told Andrew, then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus, who launched into a soliloquy, truly, a prophecy of his coming death: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Oft is has been speculated that these Greeks, coming to Jerusalem to share in the Passover celebration, were Gentiles and, thus, as symbols of the future expansion of the mission of Jesus in sharing the gospel of salvation with the world, signals to Jesus that the time to fulfill his God-given destiny to die for the sake of that gospel had come.
I’ve always found it intriguing that we have no definitive word about whether the Greeks saw Jesus. Perhaps that is not the point. Or, perhaps, the point is other than the satisfaction of physical sight. Perhaps seeing Jesus is more, is all about believing Jesus.
If that is so, then I am like those Greeks. For I have not had and will not have the privilege of seeing Jesus in the flesh of his earthly ministry. Nevertheless, I believe.
Therefore, I am as those to whom Jesus referred when speaking to Thomas, who would not believe lest he saw, saying, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”(1)
In two millennia, countless are those who fulfill this description. Most of them unknown to me and quite a few known to me are numbered among those who, in their words and deeds, bore testimony to the person and presence of Jesus so that I might believe. Therefore, in my day and time and for my remaining days and time, I, as a present benefactor of belief, have shared and do share and will share in what I call “the gospel labor of love” to insure another generation to come of those who have not seen, yet, because of my witness, might believe.
(1) John 20.29
Illustration: We would see Jesus, James Tissot (1836-1902). Note: Tissot depicts the Greeks speaking with Philip while Andrew points to Jesus (dressed in white).