outsiders | John 12.20-22
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. John 12:20-22 | ESV
And in the midst of the pilgrims and the pandemonium of celebration, Greek-speaking (and looking) outsiders showed up on the scene – men who had come to the feast for the serious business of worship. And that got them on the trail of this Jesus. First they come to Philip – who, after all was from Bethsaida in more outsider-flavored Galilee – and they come right out and ask him: “Please sir, we want to see Jesus – can you get us to him?” Philip tells them to wait there and hold that thought, then nervously high tails it to tell Andrew, then Andrew and Philip both come with a bit of trepidation and spill the beans to Jesus.
MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Piecing together that Passover week of all Passover weeks; we perhaps end up with this basic flow of events:
Sunday – Lamb Selection Day; Palm Sunday; triumphal entry, victory parade ending with Jesus surveying the temple scene – and then leaving. Religious authorities in a paralyzing tizzy.
Monday – Jesus curses a fig-less fig tree as he heads into the city in the morning; then he redecorates the temple courtyard, overturning tables, scattering coins, evicting merchants and their stock, and declaring open season on worship; an impromptu worship choir of children goes for it as Jesus talks little but does much – healing many; the authorities still in shock. But at the end of the day Jesus leaves, and so does the crowd. No revolution.
Tuesday – The disciples see the fig tree Jesus cursed the morning before now withered right down to the roots; huge faith lesson for them; Jesus enters the temple and the religious authorities have recovered their senses and are prepared for battle. They question his authority publicly. They send “actors” with a “sincere” dilemma: “Do we pay taxes to Caesar or not, Good Teacher?” They try to stump him with a theological jawbreaker that he tosses right back to them. Then he stumps them. Then he blisters them with a double-barreled rebuke in an eight-woe-filled exposure of their religious playacting, publicly. Then before retiring from the city for the last time before that fateful Passover night and on the Mount of Olives describing the impending doom of Jerusalem in the rays of the setting sun…yes, at the end of this day of battle with the religious insider establishment, outsider Greeks come wanting to see Jesus.
Reprise of the scene at this birth.
The Jewish king seeks to kill him while outsider Gentiles come to worship him, bearing gifts.
So now, after battling insider religious types all day in that place of worship, Gentile outsiders who’ve come to worship (and are blessed with space now in those Gentile courts to do so) come wanting to see Jesus. But, like the Roman centurion seeking healing for his servant, they don’t approach him directly, but through another.
Was he the most non-religious looking Galilean of the bunch?
Was he just in the right place at the right time?
Curiously, Philip doesn’t take the direct approach either. He goes to Andrew and they both go to Jesus. Was Jesus’ former instruction “Go only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” still ringing in their ears? Was Jesus in his scary intense mode with all this conflict and confrontation? Maybe.
But what they didn’t know and wouldn’t fully realize until years later was the fact that the whole point of Jesus’ life and ministry was staring at them in the faces of those outsider seekers.
Why do you think “outsiders” often track better with what is going on than do the “insiders”? How can we maintain a healthy “outsider” heart that is always ready to seek and be challenged by the face of Christ (rather than staying comfy in the fortress of our ‘facts’)?
Lord, I would see you. I would be challenged by a transforming glimpse of your face. Give me a supple, bendable “outsider” heart that would seek your face – no matter what looks I might get from the faces of others. Through Christ.