“And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship. . . . The same came therefore to Philip . . . and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus” (John 12:20,21).
Our Lord’s response to these Greeks (Gentiles) seems to be unrelated to what they had asked. Why would he respond by saying that His hour had come for Him to be “glorified” (v.23)? Why would He speak of His impending death (v.27) and being “lifted up from the earth”—drawing all men to Himself (v.32)?
It should come as no surprise that our Lord thought Scripturally. He referred often to Scripture (Matthew 4:4; 21: 12–17,42; Luke 24:25–27), and Isaiah 49 serves as a most fitting backdrop for the circumstances of our text. It is possible that it may even have been self-consciously in our Lord’s mind.
Like the more familiar Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12, Isaiah 49:1–23 is a “servant” passage. Both passages speak prophetically of our Lord. After mentioning His birth in the first few verses, God calls His servant, “Israel, in whom I will be glorified” (v.3). This parallels “glorified” in John 12:23,28.
This same verse that speaks of our Lord’s saving Judah and Israel goes on to affirm the salvation of Gentiles (Greeks), too! The Lord would also be “a light to the Gentiles” and God’s “salvation unto the end of the earth.” (Consider parallels with John 12:20 and 32.)
The Lord Jesus did not ignore Gentiles who came to Him; rather, He died for them! He knew from Scripture what He must do, and He did it.
In addition to responding to Him in gratitude and in faith, we also should seek guidance from Scripture. May we indeed walk the path of faith and, like our Lord, always be guided by His word. PGH