(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
John 12:20 through 24 records a puzzling instance of some Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus:
Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to wor- ship at the feast [of the Passover]. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
It almost sounds like Jesus was being rude, ignoring totally these non-Jews who wanted to meet Him! When I first started regularly reading and studying my Bible, I had trouble reconciling this scripture with other statements such as…
- John 3:16 – “For God so loved the [whole] world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
- Romans 3:29 – “…is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.”
- I Timothy 4:10 – “…we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.”
- I John 2:2 – “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”
Jesus Himself laid out His clear purpose statement in Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” So why did He refuse to interact with these Greeks, who were obviously sincere in seeking the Savior? How do we know they were sincere in their seeking Him? It says in verse 20 of our featured Scripture that they were “…among those who came up to worship at the feast.” They were probably Gentile proselytes of the Jewish religion! Or they were ‘God seekers’! On Pentecost, when the Lord Jesus poured out the promised Holy Spirit upon His followers (recorded in Acts Chapter 2), we are given a list in verses 9 through 11of sixteen different countries, cities, or areas represented by “…both Jews and proselytes…” who were hearing in their “…own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
So if these non-Jewish Greeks were sincerely seeking Jesus, why did the Savior so obviously ignore them? He didn’t! If God’s plan was to bring salvation to all mankind, as the work of the Lord then stood, He was severely limited by the incarnation of His Son in human flesh!
- How many people did Jesus reach with His message of salvation?
✞ It is recorded in Luke 9:11 that “...multitudes... followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.” And then He fed them with two fish and five tiny loaves of bread! (see Luke 9:12-17). ➔ In Matthew 14:21 – The multitudes were said to be “...about five thousand men, besides women and children...” Including the woman and children, various estimates run from 8,000 to perhaps as many as 20,000 people! ➔ By the way, from the account of this miracu- lous feeding in John chapter 6, the multitudes consisted predominately of Jewish men, women, and children! ✞ In Matthew 15:29 through 38 (see also Mark 8:1-9) there is recorded another miraculous feeding! ➔ Verse 38 states that “...those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.” So perhaps the total estimated multitude could be 7,000 to 15,000 people! ➔ According to Mark 7:31, Jesus “...came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee.” This was a Gentile region, so this multitude was probably non-Jews for the most part!
- There are other instances where the Lord drew multitudes of people to Himself (see Matthew 5:1; 6:1; 6:18; 9:8; 9:33; 9:36; 11:7; 12:15; 13:2; 19:2; Luke 5:15; 14:25).
Did Jesus, in His earthly ministry, personally reach a hundred thousand people? Or two hundred thousand? What was the population of Palestine in Jesus’ day? Many historians estimate that the total Jewish population of Palestine in Jesus’ day was approximately three million people!
- So if Jesus reached two hundred thousand, what about the other two million, eight hundred thousand unreached people?
- Of course, relatively few of the multitudes that the Lord taught, healed, and fed, continued to believe in Him and faithfully follow Him! As it says in John 6:60 and 66, after Jesus laid down some difficult teaching, “…many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ …From that time many… went back and walked with Him no more.”
- How many people, then, were saved by the Lord’s personal earthly trek?
The estimates of the world population in Jesus’ day run from 170 million to 400 million. And the total world population through the last two thousand years is (very roughly) estimated to be 56 billion people! Add another nine to ten billion if we include the population from Adam to Jesus!
What has this got to do with Jesus Christ rejecting the plea of Greek Gentiles who wanted to meet Him? Everything! Here again is the second half of our featured Scripture:
But Jesus answered them saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
Jesus was the single grain of wheat that had to fall into the ground and die! Only then could He produce much grain! In His incarnated human form, He was only one man…
- But when He suffered and died, He paid the price for all sin of all sinners for all time!
- When He rose again, He conquered death and the fear of death for every mortal person!
- And when the Lord ascended into heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers!
Now we are the much grain, millions of Christians divinely empowered who can potentially reach billions of people who need to hear that Jesus “…came to seek and to save that which was lost…”!
But remember, much grain is made up of individual kernels!
Are you, individual Christian,
an even bigger harvest?
By the way, the Greeks are still waiting!