John 12:17-22 “The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. 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.”
Jesus and His disciples made their way up to Jerusalem for the feast. On this particular occasion Jesus made His entrance into the city on the back of a young ass as the people “Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13). Word of His arrival had awakened the city as a great host of people endeavored to see Him. The crowd however doesn’t consist of Jews only, but there are certain Greeks that desire an audience with Him; “The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus” (vs.21). Their request, “Sir, we would see Jesus”, reveals that these Greeks had a thirst for Jesus. The phrase “would see” is a determined action; not an impulse or passive desire. There is one and only one thing that will satisfy their thirst and that is seeing Jesus! But, where did they acquire this thirst that was made manifest by their determined efforts to see the Saviour? Verse 17&18 answers that question; “The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.” These Greeks had acquired a thirst for Jesus from those that were at the grave of Lazarus in John 11. While there was numerous others at the grave, by the fact that they asked the disciples, most likely this is a specific reference to them.
In studying the text, we discover that there are at least three things that were prevalent in the disciples that generated a thirst for Jesus.
First, there was personal contact, “The people therefore that was with him.” These men chose to leave all so that they might have a personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus wasn’t someone they had read about, but one they walked with daily. We are living in a day where most of those that claim to be a Christian have no personal contact with the Lord Jesus Christ. They are negligent in faithful attendance to His house, they seldom pray except in times of extreme emergencies, and find no time for the study of His Word. With respect to personal contact, Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Listen to the cry of the sweet psalmist of Israel, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2). If personal contact with Jesus is not a priority in our lives what makes us think that we would create a desire to be near Him in someone else?
Secondly, there was a powerful confirmation – “when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead.” Companionship gave way to confirmation as they personally witnessed His great power and passion. They personally witnessed divine power as Lazarus came forth in resurrected life. They witnessed Jesus’ passion for the souls of men as He embraced the children, feed the multitudes, and wept at an open grave. These men witnessed what great things Jesus could do on a personal level. As they witnessed His works and heard His Word, they grew in grace and knowledge; their faith was enhanced; “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
Lastly, there was a public confession – “bare record.” Companionship yielded to confirmation which gave way to confession! How could they be silent? They must tell everyone what they had seen and experienced! Speaking to the man whom He had cast out the devils, Jesus said, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” (Mark 5:19). When he had done this, the Bible says, “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel” (vs. 20). The men of Samaria were drawn to Jesus because of the confession of the woman at the well; “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him” (John 4:29-30).
The Greeks had a thirst for Jesus because they had witnessed Jesus in the life of His disciples. Contact, confirmation, and confession are necessary for creating a thirst for Jesus in the lives of others!