John 7:32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.
33 Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”
Opposition to Jesus has now risen to the point of direct action. The Pharisees can no longer tolerate Jesus’ public teaching in the Temple. Despite the crowds, they decide to act immediately and so they send the temple guards to arrest him. The tension rises: what will happen as he is arrested?
Attention pivots to Jesus, whose mind has clearly turned towards the cross and the fulfilment of his mission. Where is it that he will go such that the crowd cannot follow? Death? Glory? Perhaps both. Certainly the crowd are confused (v35-36). Their minds wonder about ‘the diaspora’, that is, the Jews scattered among the Greeks. Does Jesus intend his mission to extend beyond the borders of Israel?
Ironically, John records later (12:20-22) that Jesus’ ‘hour’ arrives just as some Greeks seek him out. Jesus does not directly respond to their request for an audience but their desire for him acts as kind of green-light to the passion narrative. John’s first readers– probably the Ephesian churches– would have known how the gospel had spread through the Gentile world. Just as the Magi at Jesus’ birth symbolise ‘the whole world’ coming to Jesus, here the seeds of a world-wide stage for God’s Messiah are planted.
And so already Jesus’ attention is beginning to focus on the cross. He knows where his mission is taking him. His crucifixion will be no accident. And the timing will be God-ordained. It is not in the hands of the Pharisees.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you that you willingly chose the path of suffering to glory. Thank you that, though you are in very nature God, you did not leverage that to your own advantage, to get yourself off the hook. Instead, you chose the path of a servant. You went to places I to could not go, to do for me what I could not do. Praise to you that the Father has exalted you to the highest place, above all and over all. Amen.