John 12:17-26. Now the whole world is watching

John 12:17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had performed this sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”

20    Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

There appear to be two different crowds mentioned in v 17-18. One group had seen the miracle of Lazarus’ restoration, and the other group had only heard of it and were becoming favourable towards Jesus. This widening of support for Jesus causes problems for Pharisees because they would not so easily be able to carry out their plan to kill him.

The raising of Lazarus, though remarkable in itself, is still only a ‘sign’. Some believe but there is also room for others to disbelieve and harden their heart. As a ‘sign’ it points to the greater reality that Jesus has divine authority over life and death. It is hard to ignore, ultimately leading the Pharisees to despair: they have had no gains from their actions so far. Banning association with Jesus has not worked. Threats have failed. Theological arguments have backfired. His popularity is now growing rapidly.

The “whole world” going after Jesus (v19) introduces the god-fearing Greeks interest. These men had likely come from the Decapolis and may even have known Philip, who came from nearby Bethsaida. It may be assumed that their quest to see Jesus was prompted by a desire to learn from him rather than mere curiosity. John sees them as examples or forerunners for the later mission to the Gentiles, which is again “seeded” in John’s gospel.

While not made explicit by John, this Gentile approach seems to be the trigger indicating that Jesus’ “hour” is now arriving. Previously it had been ‘too soon’ (Jn 2:22; 7:13). But now Jesus knows that the cross is imminent.

The nature of Discipleship will now become very apparent (v24-26). To be Jesus’ disciple means serving him as Master. Whoever serves Jesus must follow him, even to the cross. The disciple abandons their present life to share in Jesus’ eternal life. Where Jesus is, his servant also will be— and the Father will honour that servant as well as his Son.

Heavenly Father, give me your perspective on my life and teach me to number my days, so that I will delight to follow Jesus in every moment today. Amen.