In the Outer Court
AND there were certain Greeks among them
that came up to worship at the feast: the same came therefore to Philip, which was of
Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and
telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus."
At this time Christ's work
bore the appearance of cruel defeat. He had been victor in the controversy with the
priests and Pharisees, but it was evident that He would never be received by them as the
Messiah. The final separation had come. To His disciples the case seemed hopeless. But
Christ was approaching the consummation of His work. The great event which concerned not
only the Jewish nation, but the whole world, was about to take place. When Christ heard
the eager request, "We would see Jesus," echoing the hungering cry of the world,
His countenance lighted up, and He said, "The hour is come, that the Son of man
should be glorified." In the request of the Greeks He saw an earnest of the results
of His great sacrifice.
These men came from the West
to find the Saviour at the close of His life, as the wise men had come from the East at
the beginning. At the time of Christ's birth the Jewish people were so engrossed with
their own ambitious plans that they knew not of His advent. The magi
from a heathen land
came to the manger with their gifts, to worship the Saviour. So these Greeks, representing
the nations, tribes, and peoples of the world, came to see Jesus. So the people of all
lands and all ages would be drawn by the Saviour's cross. So shall many "come from
the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom
of heaven." Matt. 8:11.
The Greeks had heard of
Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Some supposed, and had circulated the report,
that He had driven the priests and rulers from the temple, and that He was to take
possession of David's throne, and reign as king of Israel. The Greeks longed to know the
truth in regard to His mission. "We would see Jesus," they said. Their desire
was granted. When the request was brought to Jesus, He was in that part of the temple from
which all except Jews were excluded, but He went out to the Greeks in the outer court, and
had a personal interview with them.
He was standing in the shadow
of the cross
The hour of Christ's
glorification had come. , and the inquiry of the
Greeks showed Him that the sacrifice He was about to make would bring many sons and
daughters to God. He knew that the Greeks would soon see Him in a position they did not
then dream of. They would see Him placed beside Barabbas, a robber and murderer, who would
be chosen for release before the Son of God. They would hear the people, inspired by the
priests and rulers, making their choice. And to the question, "What shall I do then
with Jesus which is called Christ?" the answer would be given, "Let Him be
crucified." Matt. 27:22. By making this propitiation for the sins of men, Christ knew
that His kingdom would be perfected, and would extend throughout the world. He would work
as the Restorer, and His Spirit would prevail. For a moment He looked into futurity, and
heard the voices proclaiming in all parts of the earth, "Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29. In these strangers He saw the
pledge of a great harvest, when the partition wall between Jew and Gentile should be
broken down, and all nations, tongues, and peoples should hear the message of salvation.
The anticipation of this, the consummation of His hopes, is expressed in the words,
"The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified." But the way in
which this glorification must take place was never absent from Christ's mind. The
gathering in of the Gentiles was to follow His approaching death. Only by His death could
the world be saved. Like a grain of wheat, the
Son of man must be cast into the ground and
die, and be buried out of sight; but He was to live again.
Christ presented His future,
illustrating it by the things of nature, that the disciples might understand. The true
result of His mission was to be reached by His death. "Verily, verily, I say unto
you," He said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth
alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." When the grain of wheat falls
into the ground and dies, it springs up, and bears fruit. So the death of Christ would
result in fruit for the kingdom of God. In accordance with the law of the vegetable
kingdom, life was to be the result of His death.
Those who till the soil have
the illustration ever before them. Year by year man preserves his supply of grain by
apparently throwing away the choicest part. For a time it must be hidden under the furrow,
to be watched over by the Lord. Then appears the blade, then the ear, and then the corn in
the ear. But this development cannot take place unless the grain is buried out of sight,
hidden, and to all appearance, lost.
The seed buried in the ground
produces fruit, and in turn this is planted. Thus the harvest is multiplied. So the death
of Christ on the cross of Calvary will bear fruit unto eternal life. The contemplation of
this sacrifice will be the glory of those who, as the fruit of it, will live through the
The grain of wheat that
preserves its own life can produce no fruit. It abides alone. Christ could, if He chose,
save Himself from death. But should He do this, He must abide alone. He could bring no
sons and daughters to God. Only by yielding up His life could He impart life to humanity.
Only by falling into the ground to die could He become the seed of that vast harvest,--the
great multitude that out of every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, are
redeemed to God.
With this truth Christ
connects the lesson of self-sacrifice that all should learn: "He that loveth his life
shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life
eternal." All who would bring forth fruit as workers together with Christ must first
fall into the ground and die. The life must be cast into the furrow of the world's need.
Self-love, self-interest, must perish. And the law of self-sacrifice is the law of
self-preservation. The husbandman preserves his grain by casting it away. So in human
life. To give is to live. The life that will be preserved is the life that is freely given
in service to God and man. Those who for
Christ's sake sacrifice their life in this world
will keep it unto life eternal.
The life spent on self is
like the grain that is eaten. It disappears, but there is no increase. A man may gather
all he can for self; he may live and think and plan for self; but his life passes away,
and he has nothing. The law of self-serving is the law of self-destruction.
"If any man serve
Me," said Jesus, "let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant
be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honor." All who have borne with Jesus the
cross of sacrifice will be sharers with Him of His glory. It was the joy of Christ in His
humiliation and pain that His disciples should be glorified with Him. They are the fruit
of His self-sacrifice. The outworking in them of His own character and spirit is His
reward, and will be His joy throughout eternity. This joy they share with Him as the fruit
of their labor and sacrifice is seen in other hearts and lives. They are workers together
with Christ, and the Father will honor them as He honors His Son.
The message of the Greeks,
foreshadowing as it did the gathering in of the Gentiles, brought to the mind of Jesus His
entire mission. The work of redemption passed before Him, from the time when in heaven the
plan was laid, to the death that was now so near at hand. A mysterious cloud seemed to
enshroud the Son of God. Its gloom was felt by those near Him. He sat rapt in thought. At
last the silence was broken by His mournful voice, "Now is My soul troubled; and what
shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour?" In anticipation Christ was already
drinking the cup of bitterness. His humanity shrank from the hour of abandonment, when to
all appearance He would be deserted even by God, when all would see Him stricken, smitten
of God, and afflicted. He shrank from public exposure, from being treated as the worst of
criminals, from a shameful and dishonored death. A foreboding of His conflict with the
powers of darkness, a sense of the awful burden of human transgression, and the Father's
wrath because of sin caused the spirit of Jesus to faint, and the pallor of death to
overspread His countenance.
Then came divine submission
to His Father's will. "For this cause," He said, "came I unto this hour.
Father, glorify Thy name." Only through the death of Christ could Satan's kingdom be
overthrown. Only thus could man be redeemed, and God be glorified. Jesus consented to the
agony, He accepted the sacrifice. The Majesty of heaven consented to suffer as the Sin
Bearer. "Father, glorify Thy name," He said. As
Christ spoke these words, a
response came from the cloud which hovered above His head: "I have both glorified it,
and will glorify it again." Christ's whole life, from the manger to the time when
these words were spoken, had glorified God; and in the coming trial His divine-human
sufferings would indeed glorify His Father's name.
As the voice was heard, a
light darted from the cloud, and encircled Christ, as if the arms of Infinite Power were
thrown about Him like a wall of fire. The people beheld this scene with terror and
amazement. No one dared to speak. With silent lips and bated breath all stood with eyes
fixed upon Jesus. The testimony of the Father having been given, the cloud lifted, and
scattered in the heavens. For the time the visible communion between the Father and the
Son was ended.
"The people therefore,
that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to
Him." But the inquiring Greeks saw the cloud, heard the voice, comprehended its
meaning, and discerned Christ indeed; to them He was revealed as the Sent of God.
The voice of God had been
heard at the baptism of Jesus at the beginning of His ministry, and again at His
transfiguration on the mount. Now at the close of His ministry it was heard for the third
time, by a larger number of persons, and under peculiar circumstances. Jesus had just
spoken the most solemn truth regarding the condition of the Jews. He had made His last
appeal, and pronounced their doom. Now God again set His seal to the mission of His Son.
He recognized the One whom Israel had rejected. "This voice came not because of
Me," said Jesus, "but for your sakes." It was the crowning evidence of His
Messiahship, the signal from the Father that Jesus had spoken the truth, and was the Son
"Now is the judgment of
this world," Christ continued; "now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Me. This He said, signifying
what death He should die." This is the crisis of the world. If I become the
propitiation for the sins of men, the world will be lighted up. Satan's hold upon the
souls of men will be broken. The defaced image of God will be restored in humanity, and a
family of believing saints will finally inherit the heavenly home. This is the result of
Christ's death. The Saviour is lost in contemplation of the scene of triumph called up
before Him. He sees the cross, the cruel, ignominious cross, with all its attending
horrors, blazing with glory.
But the work of human
redemption is not all that is accomplished by the cross. The love of God is manifested to
the universe. The prince of this world is cast out. The accusations which Satan has
brought against God are refuted. The reproach which he has cast upon heaven is forever
removed. Angels as well as men are drawn to the Redeemer. "I, if I be lifted up from
the earth," He said, "will draw all unto Me."
Many people were round about
Christ as He spoke these words, and one said, "We have heard out of the law that
Christ abideth forever: and how sayest Thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this
Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk
while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness
knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be
the children of light."
"But though He had done
so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him." They had once asked the
Saviour, "What sign showest Thou then, that we may see, and believe Thee?" John
6:30. Innumerable signs had been given; but they had closed their eyes and hardened their
hearts. Now that the Father Himself had spoken, and they could ask for no further sign,
they still refused to believe.
"Nevertheless among the
chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess
Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue." They loved the praise of men
rather than the approval of God. To save themselves from reproach and shame, they denied
Christ, and rejected the offer of eternal life. And how many through all the centuries
since have been doing the same thing! To them all the Saviour's warning words apply:
"He that loveth his life shall lose it." "He that rejecteth Me," said
Jesus, "and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have
spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:48.
Alas for those who knew not
the time of their visitation! Slowly and regretfully Christ left forever the precincts of