12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks.

 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”.

 The appearance of Greeks on the scene comes as a bit of a surprise. There is a caricature of the Jewish religious establishment of Jesus’ day that the whole hierarchy of the faith community was narrow, exclusive, bigoted and self-righteous. Like all caricatures there may be a measure of truth to this picture, but it fails to adequately represent the rich variegated reality of the Jewish tradition in Jesus’ day.

Here are non-Jews, possibly spiritual seekers, perhaps converts to Judaism, but clearly non-Israelite who have come up to the holy city to join in the worship at the festival of Passover. Clearly, they had no concerns about being excluded and they anticipated they would be received as legitimate pilgrims by the other worshipers.

Philip was perhaps a little taken aback to be confronted with these Gentiles inquirers. He does not feel confident to respond on his own so he seeks the advice of Andrew. Together, they approach Jesus with the Greek pilgrims’ request.

Strangely, the Greeks simply disappear from the story at this point. But the report of their desire “to see Jesus” seems to have been for Jesus a signal indicating that his tragic destiny is about to close in on him. Jesus responds to Andrew and Philip saying,

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

This is not the glory anyone had hoped for. The glory of which Jesus speaks here is the glory of the cross upon which Jesus will suffer and die in less than a week.

What is it about the Greeks’ desire “to see Jesus” that triggers his awareness of his approaching death?

Perhaps, Jesus sees that the energy of his love, the power of his revelation, and the force of his spirit that will all be poured out on the cross, is spilling over at this point to be manifest in the world. This power is breaking barriers and crossing boundaries; it is starting to infect the wider world.

The power of love radiating from the person of Jesus is profoundly threatening to the Pharisees who resist anything that might diminish their hold over the people. Unlike the Greeks who have come to Jerusalem to seek the light, the Pharisees are determined to preserve their position and remain trapped in the dark.

What causes me to be trapped in the dark?