“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, 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. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant will be. My father will honour the one who serves me. Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
In John chapter 12 something changes. The Lord Jesus Christ has entered the Temple area in triumph. Lazarus has been raised back to life from the dead. The crowds are in a frenzy of excitement about Jesus and Lazarus. The opposition to Jesus and His word has solidified with the intention to put Him to death. Up to this point in the gospel Jesus has kept stating that His hour had not yet come (John 2:4; 7:30; and 8:20). Now something has changed, a delegation of Gentiles, John calls them Greeks, are brought by Andrew and Philip to Jesus. Their conversation with the Lord Jesus Christ is not recorded by John. What he does record for us is the statement which Jesus makes on this occasion. Something has changed. Jesus’ hour has now come. In verse 31 Jesus says that the judgment of the world and its prince has now come. Literally what Jesus says here is that the time has come for the division, separation, judgment of this world. The actual word here is crisis. The crisis of the world has come. A crisis is an event which brings change. This is the hour that Jesus has now come to.
There is something about the coming of some Gentiles to Jesus which brings Him to the hour of His glorification. He speaks to them, and His disciples, about what this crisis will require of Him and of them. The Son of Man is about to be glorified through the cross. Jesus’ hour is a cross centred hour. So Jesus begins to speak about how He will glorify the Name of His father through His death on the cross. He must die so that God’s redemptive purpose can be accomplished.
God is glorified through the cross of Christ. Those who follow Jesus must be those who are crucified with Him. We are called to heed the call of the Lord to follow Him to the cross. There is no life for us or for others apart from the cross of Christ. In fact Jesus tells his audience here in chapter 12 that, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am my servant must be.” We serve and follow Christ crucified. The disciples, and us today, are called to follow Him to the cross. Where He is found we are found and that is living the crucified life.
George Whitefield tells us about this crucified life, which he applies to preachers, but which can be reasonably be applied to all true disciples of Christ when he writes the following.
“Yea…that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more…raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be “fools for Christ’s sake”, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labour and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain the earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness “signs and wonders following” in the multitudes of human lives.” (Dallimore, Arnold, George Whitefield, Edinburgh, Banner of Truth Trust, 1970, Vol. 1 page 16)