Events are moving fast, but in this short interlude, we have the news that non-Jews are beginning to search for Jesus too. These Greeks may have been Jewish converts, but they were known for their love of travel and interest in new ideas. The Greek contingent seek out Philip and he talks to Andrew: a reminder that it is through the disciples of Jesus that most people come to know Jesus. Can you show a desperate inquirer the way to Jesus?
The rest of this passage demonstrates that the Jews completely misunderstood Jesus when He used the title 'Son of Man' for Himself. Theirs had come straight from the prophecies of Daniel (7 v 13), but in the desperation of the exile in Babylon and then what we call the intertestamental period'-the years between the Old and New, when there was no prophetic utterances-they elevated the Son of Man in their minds to be the undefeatable world conqueror sent by God. When Jesus declared that it was the time for Him to be glorified, those who saw Him as the Son of Man believed that this would be the time when He established His eternal world domination! No wonder Paul describes the cross as 'Foolishness'! The time when Jesus would be fully glorified was when He hung on the cross! Jesus turned their ideas upside down, replacing their dream of conquest with a vision of a cross.
Jesus is stating three vital truths here:
1. Only by death comes life. The seed is only effective once buried in the ground: the church only grew because there were men and women (and children) prepared to die to preserve it: 'The blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church'.
2. Only by giving up life do we retain it. If we love our lives we are governed by selfishness and the desire for security. Repeatedly, Jesus laid down this law: Mark 8 v 35; Matthew 16 v 25; Luke 9 v 24; Matthew 10 v 39; Luke 17 v 33. Are you prepared to give up your life serving your Saviour?
3. Only by service comes greatness. He will demonstrate this in the next chapter. Do you want to do great things for Jesus Christ? Do the menial things He sends you first! Time and time again I meet with those who sense God is leading them in a new direction into a new area of ministry and before they can make a move He sends them some domestic issue to sort out. I was firmly of the opinion when selected to join Bible college that we must sell the shop we had first, but it didn't happen, and I was very grateful, because that kept me grounded.