Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
• The crowd, quite large as we noticed a few weeks ago, praised Him as King.
• Jesus purposely rode in on a donkey to identify with and become the fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah.
o Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) — 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
o Jesus was claiming to be Zechariah’s humble king.
• A king prophesied throughout the OT.
o Psalm 2:6 (ESV) — 6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”
• Jesus had also laid claim to another prophecy in Zechariah 14:21b during Passover week.
o Zechariah 14:21b (ESV) — 21b And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.
• It was in the midst of this that we come to our text today.
However, before we proceed, we need to set the backdrop and context for Jesus’ final week.
• Jesus was proclaiming His Kingship during the Passover.
• For the Jew, the Passover was a looking back in celebration for the deliverance God provided from the Egyptians during the Exodus.
• But it was also a looking forward in hope to God’s future deliverance and restoration via His king.
• Passover was “dense with detail and heavy with hope” – N.T. Wright.
What were the Jews looking to be delivered from or restored to?
• Jews at the time of Jesus stilled considered themselves in “exile”.
• They “saw the Babylonian exile as only the start of a much longer period of history in which God’s people remained unredeemed, unrescued, and unforgiven” – N.T. Wright.
• They were under Roman rule, their half-Jewish king was a murderer and adulterer, the Temple had a history of desecration under foreign tyrants, and the 12 tribes of Israel were scattered.
• The Jews “hadn’t had twelve tribes since the eighth century BC, when the Assyrians came and captured the northern kingdom” – N.T. Wright.
o This speaks to, by the way, why Jesus chose 12 disciples.
o It was a symbolic restoration of the 12 tribes under His ministry – N.T. Wright.
Moreover, prior to Jesus’ public proclamation as King, He had clearly taught that the Kingdom of God was at hand.
• And more to the point, that He was ushering in this Kingdom on earth as in heaven.
• Matthew 12:28 (ESV) — 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
• Luke 8:1 (ESV) — 1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.
• So at Passover, Jesus was claiming to be the King of God’s new Kingdom.
What expectations did the Jews have of the King and the Kingdom of God?
• Two Accomplishments
• Two Moments
The King would at a minimum accomplish the following:
• 1) “Victory over the pagans” – N.T. Wright
• 2) “Cleansing or rebuilding the Temple” – N.T. Wright
o So a Battle and a Cleansing.
Additionally, the King’s campaign “would have (at least) two key ‘moments’” – N.T. Wright.
• 1) “The initial proclamation” – N.T. Wright.
• 2) “The moment when the final battle was won and the Temple rebuilt” – N.T. Wright.
These insights beg the question.
• What was Jesus’ Battle, Cleansing, “initial Proclamation” and the moment the “final battle won and the Temple rebuilt”?
• We will get to those later.
• Right now, back to the backdrop/context.
Therefore the Jews, as the people of God, in expectation of the prophecies from Daniel, Isaiah, Zechariah, and others were looking for God’s kingdom to be ushered by God’s chosen King.
• Their problem of course, was that they never anticipated that the Messiah, the suffering servant and the King would be one in the same person.
• In fact, “we have no evidence prior to the time of Jesus that anyone supposed that when God returned to his people he would return as the Messiah or as the servant” – N.T. Wright.
• Nevertheless, it was during Passover that this hope of restoration was in full throttle.
• It was therefore no accident that Jesus chose the Passover as “the hour” and to identify Himself as King.
But in addition to the “Two Accomplishments” and “Two Moments”, there were at least a couple of other things spoken of by the OT prophets concerning the Kingdom of God.
• (1) “One of the great things Israel had to do so that God would launch his great renewal movement, his new Exodus, was ‘to turn’, to repent, to turn back from the evil ways of the heart, and to turn instead to God in penitence and faith” – N.T. Wright.
o This is because “if God was to become king on earth as in heaven, something deeper than outward reformation would be required” – N.T. Wright.
o John 3:3 (ESV) — 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
• (2) And additionally, there was this business about the Gentiles.
o And these lead us to the “Greeks” and our text today.
1) SON OF MAN GLORIFIED
John 12:19–26 (ESV) — 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.” 20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 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.
The Pharisees, who had already determined that Jesus was a sham that would only draw the ire of the Roman authorities, had to concede defeat on this day.
• They looked at each other and said simply, “the world has gone after him”.
• In other words, thousands in town for Passover were clamoring all over Him in expectation of the new Exodus.
John reveals to us that some of those that were part of the crowd “were some Greeks”.
• This tells us a few things.
• (1) Passover drew even believing Gentiles (God-fearers).
• (2) Some of the Gentiles had specifically taken notice of Jesus.
o Some speculate that His cleansing of the temple caught their attention because this happened in the court of the Gentiles to which they had access.
Whatever the reason, they wanted to see Jesus.
• So they asked Philip and Andrew for an audience with Jesus.
• Jesus used the occasion to make a profound announcement.
• It appears, and Kostenberger agrees, that the “presence of the ‘Greeks’ was directly responsible for Jesus” making the announcement – “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified”.
On several occasions prior to this, Jesus had stated quite the opposite.
• John 2:4 (ESV) — 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
• John 7:30 (ESV) — 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.
• John 8:20 (ESV) — 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.
Why would the presence of the “Greeks” at Passover indicate that Jesus’ hour had finally come?
The Gentile Connection:
In the inauguration of the Kingdom of God, as we mentioned, there was a Gentile connection.
• Isaiah 42:6 (ESV) — 6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,
• Isaiah 49:6 (ESV) — 6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel [restoration from exile]; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
• Isaiah 49:22 (ESV) — 22 Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
“The reply of Jesus indicates that the coming of the Gentiles heralds the climax of his ministry…” – Beasley-Murray.
• Apparently, the presence of the “Greeks” was a cue and/or reminder to Jesus of what needed to be done that the Gentiles might enter the Kingdom of God.
• And D.A. Carson suggests that whether or not the “Greeks” met with Jesus, there was a sense in which, “they could not yet belong to him” and His Kingdom – D. A. Carson.
• “Jesus knew that the only way they [the Greeks] could truly enjoy fellowship with Him was through His atoning sacrifice” – John MacArthur.
• The “Greeks”, then, were one more reason Jesus had to die.
So what was the hour that had come?
• Obviously, then, the hour that had come was the “hour” of Jesus’ death on the cross.
• Or, as Jesus put it in verse 24, “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.”
• It would be this act that would draw “Jew and Gentile alike” – D.A. Carson.
• The Gentile inclusion into the Kingdom of God would be some of this fruit.
• In the Kingdom soteriology, death was necessary for there to be life.
We also can’t miss the fact that Jesus stated that he would also be “glorified” at this hour.
• What does Jesus mean?
• To be “glorified” carries with it the idea that Jesus would be “clothed in splendor” – BDAG.
• In John, “the whole life of Jesus is depicted as a glorifying of the Son by the Father” – BDAG.
o John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
o John 8:54 (ESV) — 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
• This glorification of Jesus is shown in the submission of Christ to the will and direction of the Father and via the signs and wonders Jesus performed.
But here Jesus is telling us that He will be glorified in His death.
• D.A. Carson says that, “Jesus’ death was itself the supreme manifestation of Jesus’ glory”.
• But how is this so?
• It has to do with the “Two Accomplishments” and “Two Moments” we alluded to earlier.
o More on them later.
• Suffice it to say that for the Kingdom of God to be realized, its King had to die.
• Because, in the Kingdom of God inaugurated by Jesus, the cross was “the battle that will set his people free and establish God’s sovereign and saving rule” – N.T. Wright.
• And the Kingdom was fully established “through his own suffering and death” – N.T. Wright.
• Why? – “The darkness, it seems, had to be allowed to do its worst in order to be defeated” – N.T. Wright.
So we have seen the connection between the Greeks, Jesus’ announcement and His death and glorification.
• But Jesus doesn’t stop there.
• He goes on to tell us what His glorification will mean for residents of the Kingdom of God.
• We will dive into this next week.