‘We would see Jesus’
Way back in 1939, Winston Churchill said this of Russia: it is
a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.
I feel the same way about today’s Gospel story. It’s a riddle. It’s a mystery. It’s an enigma.
Some ‘Greeks’ come to Philip and say, ‘Sir, we would see Jesus.’
Fair enough… But when Jesus hears about it, he seems to go off at a tangent. He says:
The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
You’d think he’d sit down with these visitors from far away, or at least give them a number and tell them to wait in line. But his reply is a riddle. A mystery. An enigma. The hour has come…
Jesus has talked before about ‘the hour’. At Cana, when Mary asked him to fix the alcohol shortage, he said (John 2.4),
My hour has not yet come…
And he said (5.25),
Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
The course of Jesus’ life was heading to a climax, but not until the right time. Nothing could happen until ‘the hour’ had come (cf. 7.30, 8.20).
And with the Greeks, the hour had indeed come. What’s that about? The Greeks were the ‘other sheep’ that Jesus had spoken about (10.15-16):
I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
It was now time to bring all people together as one flock. It was time for the shepherd to lay down his life.