In Jesus’ day, Jerusalem was a packed city when it came Passover time. Not only would many Jews make the pilgrimage, but many other people from various cultural backgrounds would be in the city as well (either traveling or calling it home). During the last Passover week before his arrest and crucifixion, Jesus and his disciples returned to Jerusalem.
While there, a group of Greeks tracked down Philip asking to see Jesus. Philip and Andrew went to Jesus with this news, and, not surprisingly, Jesus gave an unexpected response:
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified… And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:23, 32)
As you read through John, you will find several accounts where the religious leaders or crowds threatened or tried to kill Jesus. Up to this point, each occurrence was met with the statement the hour has not yet come. This “hour” referring to Jesus’ crucifixion and all that would be accomplished through it (12:27-32, 17:1-5). Yet, suddenly when these Greeks appear looking for Jesus, Jesus’ response was, “My hour has come.”
These Greeks coming to see Jesus, then, served as a sign of God’s global purpose in Christ.
This is why Jesus would say a few minutes later that when he was lifted up (crucified on the cross), he would draw all to himself. The salvation found by faith in him was not meant only for one nation or one people. Though Jesus was a Jew and the Messiah of the Jews, his saving work on the cross extends to all who will believe—Jew, Greek, Iraqi, Zambian, British, American, Brazilian, etc. This is the way that God so loved the world, that whoever believes has eternal life (John 3:16).
So for us, as followers of Christ, we are to see the whole world as our mission field. The hope of Jesus that we have through the gospel is not a hope only for our families, towns, states, or countries. It’s a hope for the world. Jesus came “into the world as light, so that whoever believes in [him] may not remain in darkness” (12:46).
As Jesus’ followers, we are then sent into the world to bring light to darkness—hope where there is hopelessness, the knowledge of salvation where there is sin (John 17:18). May we never think too small of our mission; may we think as big as the world.
This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.