19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Just before this text, we saw Jesus entering Jerusalem, riding on a colt. We saw that the crowds acclaimed Jesus the King of Israel. We also saw the Pharisees bristle with jealousy, and plan to have him killed as soon as possible.
Looking at verse 19, we see that the reason that the Pharisees want Jesus dead is because the “world” has gone after him. This is a significant word, “world,” and it has great importance for our understanding of the next several verses. By “world,” did the Pharisees mean that every living individual in the whole world, on the whole planet earth, was now following Jesus? Obviously not. The Pharisees were obviously not personally following him. Nor were the great multitudes of the world who had never heard of Jesus following Jesus at this time. So, clearly, the word “world” here can not mean that the Pharisees believe that every individual was following Jesus. Nor is it enough to say that they simply meant a large crowd.
What happens next in the passage sheds light on what the Pharisees meant by the word “world” and why it matters. Verse 20 tells us that some Greeks were in the city, and they asked to see Jesus. Phillip and Andrew get together, and they decide to go ask Jesus if he wants to meet these people.
Now, realize that Greeks was a very specific designation. This is not to say that these were men from Grease, but for sure, they were gentiles. Throughout his ministry, Jesus has focused very intentionally on Jews and occasionally Samaritans. But now, we see true foreigners, true gentiles, interested in Jesus. These men are people who had no connection by birth to the nation of Israel or to God’s covenant promises.
And look at what Jesus says in response. We see nothing in verse 23 that tells us whether or not he will meet with the Greeks. All we see for sure is that something has changed. Jesus declares that his hour has come. What brought about that statement? Greeks were asking to see him. Why does this fact communicate to Jesus? We can only guess.
I think the best guess here is to recognize that the Pharisees say that the world is after Jesus, and now the gentiles come to ask about him. What the Pharisees had to mean is that they have recognized that more than just Israelites, people from all over the world, from all ethnicities have started after Jesus. Even the gentiles are curious about him now. And this fact somehow brings about Jesus announcing that it is now time, his ministry is now coming to its fulfillment, his glory is about to be revealed, his purpose is about to be accomplished.
And as we watch this simple event unfold, we have to stop and realize something for ourselves. God’s plan for Jesus has always involved the whole world. God has never intended that Jesus would be a savior for Jews only. God never intended that Jesus be a savior for white Americans only. God never intended that Jesus be a savior for the middle and upper classes only. God sent Jesus to be the savior for people from every nation, every language, every tribe, every culture, every social class, every education level, every part of the whole world. God’s plan for Jesus is global, and if we are to follow Jesus and honor him, we need to learn to think on a global scale.
So, Christians, we need to catch God’s global vision. Ask yourself today, what am I doing to see to it that God’s kingdom is being built among all the peoples of the earth? How am I helping to spread the gospel to the far reaches of the earth and to the near reaches of my town? How can I pray more globally? How can I care more globally? How can I give globally? How can I go and share the gospel with someone from another people group? Christians, pray that God will set your mind up to be like his, thinking that success in the church must include the sharing of the gospel with people all over the world.