“Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:20–26, ESV)
Jesus had just entered Jerusalem to a large and dramatic reception where the streets were lined with people shouting out Hosanna or “save us now.” They had covered the road with their cloaks and they waved palm fronds in His honor. But Jesus knew that His reason for entering was not to take up a throne right there in their midst, but to go to a cross and suffer death so that He might at a later date reign in their presence. His time to be their present King had not yet come, but the reason for His coming had. In the days that were to come the people would change. They would see Him not as their king but as someone to be removed as a fake, an imposter, a threat to what they knew. Sure, this was not universal and there were those who would not take part, but the end result would be what God had intended. At the demand of the people of God—the Jews—the king of the Jews would be mocked and hung on a cross.
While these things were beginning to unfold there were also those who had come to Jerusalem who were likely not born Jews but who were Gentiles of Greece had become Jews as proselytes. Out passage indicates that among those that had come to worship were some Greeks. These Greeks had asked to see Jesus, and their request was forwarded to Jesus. The Greek worshippers had approached Philip and Philip went and found Andrew. Then the two of them went to Jesus to let Him know of their request. We don’t know what they thought about these Greeks asking to see Jesus, but it must have raised some question with Philip as possibly indicated by him going and finding another one of the disciples so that both of them could go to Jesus. From all we see in the text it seems that Jesus did not meet with them.
Rather He responded to Philip and Andrew with others listening on saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
While the disciples might have been surprised that these foreigners wanted to see Jesus, Jesus told them that the time had now come for Him to die—the grain of wheat falling to the earth. But His death was not to be a futile falling. When that gain of wheat falls to the earth it begins to germinate and grow and spring forward with new life, and that new life multiples. From that one grain many grains are given life, and those grains will be the fruit of the one grain and they will resemble that one grain. They will be harvested and go to the same end as that one grain. Speaking of the natural process of wheat which they understood, Jesus told His disciples that His time had come to lay down His life so that He might take it back up again and give life to many. And that many is as many who trust in Him regardless of their nationality.
Anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ becomes part of that fruit. If Jesus had loved His own life so much that He did not take this step then no one that followed would know life either. But this was not the case; the Son of God humbled Himself to become man so that we might live. He loved us so much that He considered what He had to do worth the cost.
He went on to add that anyone who serves Him would have to follow Him. But in following Him there was going to be great reward. Where He was going they would go also, and in their going they would find that the Father also honored them in their following.
These Greeks desired to meet the Jesus who they had heard about. Not knowing if they did get to meet Him and thinking that they did not at this time for a very good, God-foreseen reason those of them who would believe in Him would not only get to see Him later, but would be with Him for eternity. Jesus was faithful to His reason for coming, and He calls us to be faithful in following knowing that He is the One who brings us eternally together.