November 15, 2010

Nameless But Notable XVI: Inquisitive Aliens

"Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. ~John 12:20-22

Over the period of Jesus' life, especially during His ministry, people came from far and wide to see, speak with, or be healed by Jesus. So what makes these guys different from the others? They were Greek...and Judeans always were cautious around those of foreign lands.

What is also interesting is they were in Jerusalem during Passover which meant Jerusalem would've been crawling with Jews not necessarily Greeks. It could be concluded that they were proselytes [προσήλυτος/proselytos] or "someone who has found his/her place". It was a general title given to a person who has switched totally to embrace a certain religion, in this case it was Judaism. They were also usually gentiles. By this point Jesus' fame would've preceded Him and it is clear these Greeks knew who Jesus was since they respectfully requested and audience with Him. Everyone wanted an audience with Him, why wouldn't proselyte Jewish Greeks? Did they beleive this might be the promised Messiah? Why did they approach Philip first? Is it because of his Greek name?

We do not know the answer to any of these questions. What we do know is the effect it has on Jesus and what Jesus does next.

"Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." John 12:23-26

Jesus' moment of truimph and suffering is now at hand. He is troubled by the experience to come yet this is the exact reason He has come. This is just the opposite of saved humans. For both Jesus and us the purpose hinges on death. By His death we get salvation by our death we get freedom because of His salvation. At our death we are freed from the bondage of sin but only because of His death.

If we jump back to the Greeks we see that Jesus is about to fulfill the promise made by God to Abraham. That he would make Abraham a great nation but through this nation all nations would be blessed (Genesis 22:18)...even the Greeks...even Americans. It leaves one to wonder...did these Greeks again inquire about Jesus after His death? After he had died and was raised again on the third day? Did they become Christian converts too?

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