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The Petition of Certain Greeks.

The Petition of Certain Greeks.

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— John xii. 20-33.



— John xii. 20-33.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 13, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE PETITIO OF CERTAI GREEKS.BY LEOARD WOOLSEY BACOA EASTER SERMO. — John xii. 20-33.This being, in some respects a difficult Scripture to intelli-gent readers (it presents no difficulty at all to the unintelli-gent) is presumptively a specially profitable Scripture to asmany as shall come to understand it. For it is God's methodin the difficulties of sacred Scripture, first to provoke andstimulate inquiry, and then splendidly to reward it.The questions that arise on the first reading of this story areseveral : first, what is the importance of the incident, that itshould be mentioned at all ? secondly, why there should havebeen so much hesitation and consultation among the disciplesover so simple a matter as this request of " certain Greeks ? "thirdly, why it should be that after the request had been re-lated with so much particularity, nothing is distinctly said of wdiat came of it — whether it was granted or not ? finally, whatwas there in this seemingly trifling incident, just mentioned byone evangelist and then dropped, not so much as mentioned bythe other three, that should so have agitated the soul of theSon of man that he should almost be ready to say, " Father,save me from this hour " ? What is the connection between183184 THE SIMPLICITY THAT IS IX CHRIST.the message of Philip and Andrew to their JIaster that certainGreek visitors to Jerusalem at the Passover wished to see him,
and the answer that he made — " the hour is come ; the Son of man is to be glorified — but only through death. This grainof wheat, if it be preserved, will be but sterile : it must fallinto the ground and die, and then shall it bring forth muchfruit " ? If we w^ould knoAV these things, we must study deeplyinto the spirit of the four gospels, if by any means we mayattain to the fellowship of Christ's sufferings.The message of the Greeks came to the ear of our Lord just at that juncture in his ministry wdien he began to feelwith its heaviest weight the meaning of those words of theprophet Isaiah, which he had been wont to read aloud in thesynagogues of azareth and Capernaum — the w^ords " despisedand rejected of men." There had been days — the earlier daysof his Galilean ministry — Avhen all who heard him seemedready to bow in homage before the w^ords which he spakewith such authority. In the presence of his mighty w^orks of healing, the voice of selfish bigotry itself seemed to be strickendumb, and the contradiction of sinners to be abashed and putto shame. Here at Jerusalem, amid the pride of learning of the scribes, and the pride of " place and nation " of the priestsand rulers, it was different ; but even here such crowds followedto gaze upon the man who had raised up Lazarus from thedead, that it was said among his enemies, " Behold, the wholeworld is gone after him." And yet, for all this, it is evident,even to an unprophetic eye, that he is rejected of his ownnation. He has come to his own, and his own receive himnot. For long months the bigoted Pharisee and the skepticalSadducee, who never have agreed on anything before, have beenworking with one accord to entangle him in his talk, andembroil him either w^ith one party or with the other. Scribesand priests and rulers have been dogging him from one retreatto another as spies upon his w^ords and deeds. They haveplotted murder in private. They have tried to provoke theTHE ri:TITl()X OF CEIITAIX CREEKS. 185mob to bloody violence in the tcnu^le court. Already they
are begiiniing to draw the heathen governor into their plans,and to tamper with one of the twelve disciples with j^roposalsof treachery. His near friends will not believe it when he tellsthem ; but there is no illusion in his own mind. He knov>'sthe set, fanatic purpose of his enemies to take his life. And,notwithstanding many evidences of popular affection, heknows the circumstances that are combining to abet thatpurpose. How soon the bloody end of that lovely and blame-less life shall come is evidently a question only of a few days.From amidst the incessant cavilings, disputes, intrigues, trea-sons, conspiracies with which all this part of the story isfilled, two incidents, wdiich come close together in the Gos-pel of John, stand out in delightful contrast with the rest.The first is that jubilant processional entrance into thecity and temple with the palm-branches and hosannas of the multitude; and the other is this petition of "certainGreeks."Looking carefully into the language of the story we find someslight but clear and unmistakable indications of Avhat sort of people these Greeks Avere. The tense of the Greek verb used issignificant: they w^ere " among those who were iu the habit of coming to the feast" — not chance-comers, passers-by on a jour-ney, but habitual attendants at the Passover feast. And,secondly, they were not mere tourists, or sight-seers, such asdoubtless did gather to witness that wonderful pageant, sounlike anything the world beside could show — a whole nationcongregated to solemnize the memory of a divine deliverance ;these Greeks were among those who were wont to come up tothe feast, not to gaze but " to worship." These minute but dis-tinct inc\ieations mark this group of inquirers after Jesus asrepresentative men. They belonged to a class destined to fulfidla great and important part in the subsequent history of the king-dom of Christ — the class described again and again in the Acts of the Apostles under such titles as " devout Greeks," " devout per-18G THE SIMPLICITY THAT IS IX CHRIST.

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