John 12:20-26-There were some Greek (Gentiles, not Jewish by birth) converts to Judaism who had come to Jerusalem for Passover. The fact that they wanted to meet Jesus suggests that they had a openness to things of God. They did not go directly to Jesus, but approached Philip. We don’t know why they came to him…perhaps it was because he had a Greek name, or because he appeared to dress in a Gentile manner. But whatever the reason, it signifies a subtle shift in the ministry of Jesus. No longer would He direct His ministry exclusively to the Jews…but now, it would reach out to all people, regardless of their ancestry. He had begun with the Jews in order to establish Himself (it was through the Jewish people that the Messiah had been announced and though them that He would come). Now He would open His arms to all the people of the world. Philip and Andrew went to Jesus and asked if He would meet with the Greeks. Jesus responded that it was now time for Him to complete His mission. He uses an analogy concerning His death and resurrection that illustrates what the appropriate response of His disciples must be. A grain of wheat cannot bear fruit until it dies to its current state by being planted in the ground. In a similar manner, He must die to His current state (physical life) in order to bear the fruit of salvation (spiritual life). Even so, His disciples must be willing to give up their lives in order to have His life in them. In verse 25, the word “loses” means “to destroy”. By loving life more than loving God a person is actually destroying that which he loves the most. Jesus says that as opposed to a person loving his life above all other things (including God), he must instead “hate” his life. This is not speaking of acts of self-mortification, contempt, and degradation…but rather, a general attitude of ultimate value and priority. The disciple of Christ must value God more than life itself. There can be no division of loyalties in the life of the disciple.
(c) of relative preference for one thing over another, by way of expressing either aversion from, or disregard for, the claims of one person or thing relatively to those of another, Mat 6:24; and Luk 16:13, as to the impossibility of serving two masters; Luk 14:26, as to the claims of parents relatively to those of Christ; Jhn 12:25, of disregard for one’s life relatively to the claims of Christ; Eph 5:29, negatively, of one’s flesh, i.e. of one’s own, and therefore a man’s wife as one with him.
(http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3404&t=NASB, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words)
The word “keep” means to guard and protect. When a disciple of Christ values God more than life itself, he is in actuality entrusting his life into the hands of God and in so doing will discover the true meaning and value of life…and, is trusting God to preserve that life for all of eternity. Life without God, as well as life without God as its primary focus…is no life at all. Such a life will never reach its full potential, nor will it be preserved for its full duration.
John 12:27-33-Jesus tells them that He is “troubled” (restless, distressed) by what He knows is about to happen…His crucifixion. But He will not seek to avoid it…because His very purpose in coming was to be crucified for the sins of man. As He is speaking to the people, He voices a prayer to the Father, “Father, glorify Thy name” (:28). The Father (“a voice from Heaven “, :29) responds audibly…but the multitude thought it was thunder, or that an angel had spoken to Jesus. Jesus clarifies that it was the voice of God (:30) and that He had spoken for the benefit of everyone who heard it. He makes a reference to Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness and the people being saved (cf. Exodus 7:30; John 3:14). Then He applies this principle to Himself, that He would be lifted up (die on the cross) and that would be the means of salvation of all who would come to Him.
John 12:34-36-The people say that according to the Scriptures, the Christ (Messiah) will live forever (cf. Psalm 110:4; Isaiah 9:7; Daniel 7:14)…so how could Jesus be the Christ if He was going to die? Jesus knew that at this time (prior to His resurrection) it was difficult for them to understand how this would be possible. He told them to follow the light (what they did know and believe about Him) that they have received. If they would continue to do so, eventually, after the resurrection they would then understand more fully what He is teaching them, now.
John 12:37-43-Jesus left and hid Himself from them. He would perform no more miracles. Even though He had performed countless miracles before, there were many who refused to believe in Him. This was a fulfillment of what Isaiah had said…that the result of their lack of belief in Him was that their hearts would be hardened (cf. Matthew 13:14-15). In verse 40, John is giving a summary of what had happened because the people refused to believe. Indirectly, God had hardened their hearts. How did this happen? God had provided proof of Who Jesus was through the miracles that He performed. It was the evidence that they considered necessary for them to believe. However, this same evidence, when refused, became the substance by which their hearts would be hardened. There is an old saying, “The same sun that melts the ice, hardens the clay.” There were some of the rulers who believed in Jesus…but had not gone public out of fear of the reprisal of the Pharisees…“for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (:43).
John 12:44-50-Jesus makes it clear that when we believe in Him…we are believing in the Father. And as well, when someone hears the words of Jesus and does not believe in Him…those very words will be used to judge that person when he appears before the Father…because they are the words of the Father.
Prayer: Father, help me to hear Your voice loud and clear. Please don’t let there be anything that deafens my ears. Please help me to always act in faith that is in complete and total agreement with what You say…so that I might continue to hear more. It seems from this passage that lack of obedience is what keeps me from understanding You. When I hear You and don’t respond…that keeps me from hearing more. I want to be faithful to all that You say.