Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. "Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
(Joh 12:20-33 ESV)
This passage confused me for a long time. The Greeks come asking to see Jesus, and He talks about His pending death. I wasn't sure if they ever got their answer, or if they got to see Jesus. I eventually saw how their coming was an indication of God's timing, but the pieces failed to fit in a meaningful way.
But as I read it this morning, I saw it in a new light. [Side note: Try asking God for new insights each year on these familiar passages. Wow!] Suddenly I saw Jesus' answer to the Greeks. They wanted to see Him; He revealed the cross.
We can never see Jesus apart from the cross. We may wish to see Him as a Babe in the manger, as a Healer, as a compassionate man whose parables drip with pearls of wisdom. We may wish to see Him as a curiosity or as a friend. But we can never see Him apart from the cross. Any other image of Him is not only incomplete, it is deceptive.
The resurrection we will celebrate Sunday is vital - essential to our faith, in fact. But we only get to it through the cross.