Gentiles Seeking Jesus - John 12:20-36

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — John 12:32

At first glance the various parts of this section (Jno. 12:20-36) may appear to be disconnected, but once it is recognized that the Cross of Christ is the pre-eminent thought in the chapter, each part at once falls into its proper place and the most amazing unity is discovered. A group of Gentiles came, asking to be permitted to see Jesus. Unquestionably their request was granted, but their coming was so significant that Jesus in answering Philip and Andrew, who conveyed the request to Him, spoke of His approaching death, which should be so powerful as to draw all men to Him. Those Gentiles were a kind of first fruits of the Cross. Its power was already being felt.


John 12:23

To some it may seem strange that on the eve of His death on the Cross, Jesus should have said that He was about to be glorified. But such was the case. The death of the Cross was the occasion for Jesus' greatest glory. Hebrews 2:9 tells us that Jesus is "crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." And we read in Philippians 2:8-11 that Jesus, "being found in fashion as a man, humbled Himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Again we read in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus "for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Through the sufferings of the Cross, Jesus attained the climax of His glory.


John 12:24

This fact can be appreciated only as we recognize that it was on the Cross Jesus accomplished the salvation of souls. As the seed can bring forth fruit only as it falls into the ground and dies, so Jesus could save the lost only by dying for them. Because He did this, the Scriptures declare that "He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied." (Isa. 53:10-12.) The power of the Cross is such that it was Jesus' provision of eternal life for all men. A countless multitude shall believe in Him, and throughout eternity the theme of their songs shall be the praises of Him Who loved them and gave Himself for them. Even the angels in heaven wonder at such great love, and in the glimpse into their worship which the book of the Revelation affords us, we find them worshipping Christ because of the Cross. "And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders fell down before the lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sung a new song, saying, worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy Blood, men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation." (Rev. 5:8-9 R. V.) The Cross has redeemed a host of men, who shall be an eternal monument to the glory of God in Christ Jesus. Eph. 3:21.


John 12:25-26

When a man yields his life to Jesus lie responds to a call to fellowship in the sufferings of the Cross. Jesus said, "Whosoever will come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34.) The Christian's life can be fruitful only as it is a crucified life. This means that the believer must be willing to separate from worldliness and sin, in the power of the Lord, and he must be willing to walk in the path of God's will, which will surely lead him to engage in His service, and may involve suffering. In the words "Where I am, there shall also my servant be," (vs. 26) we see an indication of His will for His servants, and a glorious promise, as well. Jesus was in the place of service for the suffering and sinful. He had come to die for them on the Cross. And He wants His people to share in His service. He paid the price, and procured salvation for all men, and now He wants us to tell them of His grace, and mercy, even at the cost of suffering. Then, too, we find a promise here, for sharing with Him in service will permit us to share His glory. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him." (II Tim. 2:12.) Rom. 8:17,18; Rev. 20:4; Rev. 22:12; John 15:5.


John 12:27-29

The Lord Jesus was not alone in the agony of the Cross, nor is He alone in its glory. While the Son suffered the agonies of the Cross, the Father suffered with Him the pangs of separation and broken fellowship. And in the glory of the Son the Father will be glorified. The Cross was acceptable and pleasing to the Father, because He, too, looked past its shadows to the joy of fellowship with the redeemed. So we read in Isaiah, "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him." (Isa. 53:10.) The Father and the Son are One. The suffering of the One is the distress of the Other, and the exaltation of the One is the glory of the Other. Eph. 3:10,21; Jno. 3:16; Rom. 5:8.


John 12:31

In the promise given to Adam, God prophesied that the serpent, the devil, should bruise the heel of the woman's seed, but should have his head crushed under that heel. In this earliest prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus, His sufferings and the devil's defeat are linked together. Again in the uplifting of the brazen serpent in the wilderness we find the same connection. Jesus applied that type to His suffering on the Cross, but the serpent is a type of the devil. So the death of Jesus and the destruction of the devil are associated in this type. Furthermore God has given us a clear statement that "through death Jesus destroyed him who had the power of death, even the devil." The Cross is the victory of God over the devil and his hosts. How wonderful that God should have chosen to make the hour and manifestation of His greatest weakness, the time and the power of defeat for His arch-enemy! So when a soul looks by faith to the Cross he is snatched forever from the death-dealing power of Satan. Heb. 2:14-15; Rev. 12:11; Gen. 3:15; Num. 21:4-9; Jno. 3:14-15.


John 12:32-33

"I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me," said the Son of God. Here is where He took the request of the Greeks into account. They had come seeking Him, and the disciples wondered at it. Perhaps the crowd wondered, and doubtless they criticised because Jesus received them. Here is His explanation of the cause of their wonder and His answer to their criticism. The Cross was the manifestation of God's love for the world, and the Cross was to draw all the world to Him. As the fruit of the Cross men from every nation under heaven were to be saved, and to enter the eternal joys of the Lord. So today all men everywhere are being drawn toward Jesus, but many, alas, will not yield to the Spirit's tug at their hearts. Jno. 16:7-11.


John 12:34-36

This is sadly apparent in the Jesus' answer to Jesus' teaching. They displayed the natural rebelliousness of the human heart, and its desperately wicked tendency toward unbelief. The preaching of the Cross is to them who perish, foolishness, but to them who believe it is the power by which God accomplishes their salvation. They who trust the One Who hung on the Cross are saved, but they who reject Him are lost, and hopeless before God. Jno. 3:18; I Cor. 2:14; I Cor. 1:18-24; Jno.3:36.