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“Glorify Thy Name”
“And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. 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. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” (John 12:20-33)
“And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast” (v. 20). — The Passover Feast was one of the great, important holy days God commanded the Jews to keep every year. It was a week long festival, which culminated in the slaying of the paschal lamb. Jews from everywhere were gathered at Jerusalem for this holy festival. Among the Jews there was also a large multitude of Gentile proselytes, Gentiles who had been converted to the Jews’ religion. The men mentioned in this verse were Greeks who had turned from their heathen idols and were seeking the knowledge of the one true and living God.
They were allowed to come to the temple, but only to the Gentile court. In the Old Testament Gentiles were never allowed the privileges of full acceptance with the Jews. Thank God, in Christ’s spiritual kingdom, the Church, the Israel of God, there are no racial, social, economic, or ceremonial separations. We are all one in him! — “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). — “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15). — In the New Creation of Grace, “there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).
Gentiles Seeking Jesus
These Greeks came to Jerusalem to worship God. While they were there they heard about a man, a mighty miracle-worker, a prophet, whom a few fishermen worshipped as the Christ, the Messiah. “The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus” (v. 21). — These Greeks came to Philip and requested an audience with the Lord Jesus. They had heard about the Savior’s many miracles. Most notably, they had heard about the resurrection of Lazarus (John 12:9), who was a great type of every regenerate soul being raised from death to life by Christ (John 5:25; Ephesians 2:1-5). Being Gentiles, these men were reluctant to approach the Master personally. So they took their request to Philip, who was from Bethsaida, and was perhaps a neighbor. It seems likely that they knew Philip and knew that he was one of the Lord’s disciples. — Look at verse 22…
“Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.’ — Philip talked this matter over with Andrew. Then he and Andrew together brought the matter before the Lord Jesus. Why do you suppose such a simple request presented such a problem? Let me suggest three reasons why this thing seemed to greatly disturb Philip and Andrew.
First, things were in great turmoil at Jerusalem. The Chief Priests talked about killing Lazarus. (v. 10). The people talked about making Jesus of Nazareth king (vv. 12-13). The Pharisees were worried and angry about losing their position, power, and influence (v. 19).
Second, the Lord’s disciples simply did not yet understand the necessity of his death and resurrection as their Substitute and the true, spiritual nature of God’s kingdom. They trusted the Lord Jesus. They knew him; but they knew little of his doctrine. They knew very little of what he had taught them day and night for more than three years. They knew that he was their Savior; but they do not appear to have known that his death upon the cursed tree was necessary for their redemption and salvation. — “These things understood not his disciples” (v. 16). They wanted Christ to live, not to die. They wanted an earthly, Jewish kingdom (Luke 24:21; Acts 1:6). But the Son of God must be crucified, or God’s elect could not be saved (Romans 3:24-26).
Third, Philip may have thought that if the Master received these Gentiles, that would be the last straw. That, he may have thought, would give the Pharisees the excuse they were looking for to kill him. I can almost hear his counsel, — “Lord, these Greeks are asking for an audience with you. Andrew and I have discussed it. And, well, we just do not think it would be wise to receive them right now. The priests are talking about killing Lazarus. The Pharisees are worried sick, afraid of losing their hold over the people. But the people are for you. They want to make you king! To receive these Greeks now would spoil everything.” Then, in verses 23-33 the Master himself speaks. He seized the opportunity to instruct and challenge his disciples.
The Purpose of His Incarnation
“And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified” (v. 23). — Here our Savior shows us again the purpose of his incarnation. He said, “The hour is come!” The crisis he had been telling them about had arrived (John 2:4; 7:30). This was not the hour when the King of Israel must be glorified as the Son of God, over all, blessed forever. This was not the hour when the Judge of all men must be made manifest. This was not the hour when the Son of Man must be glorified as the God of glory. This was not the hour when men must own our dear Savior as the King of kings and Lord of lords. All these things will come in due time; but this was not the time. This was the hour of the Son of Man, the last Adam (1 Timothy 2:5; John 17:1-5). This was the hour of redemption (Daniel 9:24). This was the hour for which the Son of God came into this world (Hebrews 10:5-10).
The Meaning of His Death
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (v. 24). — Here our Savior shows us the meaning of his death. He portrays himself as a grain of corn, or wheat. It has much potential. There is in this one grain much corn, but only if it dies. If it dies, it will bring forth much fruit, but only if it dies. If it does not die, it must abide alone. So our Lord has many people in him (Ephesians 1:3-6). He must die, or he must abide alone. But if he dies all who are in him will come to life; and all shall be like him. The corn sown and the corn reaped are identical. That is the blessed hope that fills our souls with joy (Jude 24-25). Thus the Son of Man will be glorified (v. 23; Isaiah 53:10-12).
The Way of Salvation
“Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” — What a blessed illustration of his redemptive, life giving death! But he does not stop there. He had a death to die. And all who would be his disciples also have a death to die. The same principle is involved. In verses 25-26 the Lord Jesus shows us the way of life and salvation in him. Do you ask, “How can I be saved?” Here’s the answer. If you would save your life, you must lose it.
“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Let me show you what these things mean. A farmer has a bushel of wheat, good wheat. It is his. He can keep it for a little while. He can eat it. Or he can feed it to his hogs. But if he keeps it, uses it to satisfy his carnal appetite, uses it only for passing, momentary purposes, or wastes it, he will lose it, and lose it very soon. However, if, with an eye to the future, he takes that corn and casts it away from himself into the ground, keeping only what is necessary for the present, he will soon have an abundant harvest of corn.
So, too, I have a life. You, too. What shall I do with it? Keep it? Love it? Protect it? Shield it from danger and difficulty? Pamper it? Cater to it? I can. It is my life. You can, too. But if I keep my life, I will lose it; and the same is true of you. However, if I give my life to Christ, if you give your life to Christ, we will have an indescribable abundance of life, even eternal life, here and in the world to come.
The fact is, no man can have two masters. No man can both love Christ and the world. No man can walk in two directions. If you love this world and this life, you will lose it. If you lose your life to Christ, love, trust, and follow him, you gain eternal life. You cannot do both (Acts 20:28; 2 Timothy 1:12).
“If any man serve me, let him follow me.” — To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is to serve him and follow him. Faith in Christ is giving ourselves entirely to the Lord Jesus Christ, as bond slaves of old to follow and serve him, consecrated to him! — What a challenge! I am talking about putting your hand to the plow and never going back, never looking back! I am talking about Jephthah’s commitment (Judges 11). I am talking about Ruth’s resolve (Ruth 1:16-17).
“Where I am, there shall also my servant be.” — Here our Lord Jesus explains what it is to follow him. It is not mine to determine where he is, or what he does, but by his Word and Spirit to find out where he is and what he does, and follow him. There is no guess work involved. He is about his Father’s business. He is seeking his sheep (Luke 19:10). He is ministering to the needs of men. He is among his people. He is washing his disciples’ feet. He is in prayer (John 7:53-8:1). “Every man went to his own house.” But the Savior went out to the Mount to pray. He is despised and hated by this world. They took him outside the city and nailed him to the tree. — “Let us go unto him, without the camp!” He is nailed to a cross. — “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Let me with my Savior be crucified to the world and the world to me. He is risen and seated in the heavens.
“Take the world, but give me Jesus.
All its joys are but a name!
But His love abideth ever,
Through eternal years the same!
Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Sweetest comfort of my soul;
Then throughout my pilgrim journey,
I can sing while billows roll.
O the height and depth of mercy!
O the length and breadth of love!
O the fullness of redemption,
Pledge of endless life above!”
Then, our Master says, “If any man serve me, him will my Father honor;” and he will, both here and hereafter (1 Samuel 2:30).
The Object of His Life
Then, in verses 27-28 our Savior shows us by example what he meant. Here, he shows us the object of his life. He lived for and served the will and glory of God.
“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. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
O Spirit of God, give me the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, graciously, effectually teaching me to live in this world only to serve the will of God and the glory of God!
The Accomplishments of His Death
The Lord Jesus tells us of the accomplishment of his death in verses 29-33.
“The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” (John 12:29-33)
Our Savior’s death upon the cursed tree was the judgment of this world and his long-anticipated triumph over Satan, crushing the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15; v. 31). Thus, by the accomplishment of redemption for us, the Son of God effectually draws chosen, redeemed sinners to himself in this, the day of his power (v. 32; Psalm 110:3).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Pearl of Great Price. Will you buy this Pearl, or will you pass it by? A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Vietnam conflict broke out, the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier. The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son. About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands. He said, “Sir, you don’t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art.” The young man held out this package. “I know this isn’t much. I’m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this.” The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture. “Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It’s a gift.”
The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected. The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection. On the platform sat the painting of the son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel. “We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?” There was silence. Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, “We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one.” But the auctioneer persisted. “Will somebody bid for this painting. Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?” Another voice said angrily. “We didn’t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Gogh’s, the Rembrandt’s. Get on with the real bids!” But still the auctioneer continued. “The son! The son! Who’ll take the son?” Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. “I’ll give $10 for the painting.” Being a poor man, it was all he could afford. “We have $10, who will bid $20?” “Give it to him for $10. Let’s see the masters.” “$10 is the bid, won’t someone bid $20?” The crowd was becoming angry. They didn’t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections. The auctioneer pounded the gavel. “Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!” A man sitting on the second row shouted, “Now let’s get on with the collection!” The auctioneer laid down his gavel. “I’m sorry, the auction is over.” “What about the paintings?” “I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!”
So it is with the Christ of God. — He who gets the Son gets everything.