John 12:20-26 The Seemingly Dead

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 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. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 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 honour him.

The Seemingly Dead

The seemingly dead seed falls into the ground and out of it life sprouts.  The seemingly dead Jesus is laid in the ground and out of him life sprouts.  The seemingly alive party on Halloween but death sprouts.


Today many will dance in deathly costumes and make light of horror and gore.  They will mock the death that awaits them, yet still it awaits.  Awaken their hearts to the reality of death and the one who died so that death would lose its sting.


  1. Why are we told the audience is Greek?
  2. What does Jesus want this audience to know?
  3. What does death achieve?
  4. How does Jesus ask you to serve him?
  5. How are we to live in the light of Jesus’ death and our own?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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16 Responses to John 12:20-26 The Seemingly Dead

  1. Jenna says:

    1. According to the Moody Commentary, the fact that Greeks were seeking Jesus signaled that His “hour” had finally come.
    2. He has to die so that He can bring us life!
    3. Life!
    4. It’s the everyday things – will I choose to serve Him, and not myself, in how I react to this person?
    5. We are to “hate our life,” or as Luke puts it, deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

  2. Lacy says:

    1. It tells us that they wouldn’t have the same cultural preconceptions as the Jews that we normally see Jesus ministering to. Also, perhaps this is a sign of the future acceptance of Gentiles into the family of God.
    2. That following him will mean denial of what they hold most dear in this life, but that ultimately, it will be more than worth it.
    3. Death is an end, but also a beginning– for unbelievers, to a life of judgment, and for believers, to a life of closer union with Christ.
    4. Jesus requires as his service that I be willing to put my life to myself to death.
    5. Are goals and desires are to be in harmony with Christ, not with our own pre-salvation nature.

  3. Janice says:

    1. We are told the audience is Greek to show that God’s plan of salvation includes the Gentiles.
    2. Jesus wants this audience to know that He must die so that we might have life.
    3. Death achieves new life.
    4. Jesus asks us to serve Him by following Him–by giving our lives to serve Him.
    5. We are to live a life wholly surrendered to Christ in light of His death and our own death to sin. We are to live a selfless life that reflects Christ’s love to all people.

  4. Beth Coale says:

    Yesterday was Halloween, and today is the day of the dead. Skeletons, sugar skulls, the infamous “la Catrina” character, and the idea of death is everywhere. The snow yesterday was also a big reminder that winter is coming, and winter reminds us of deadness. But the dying leaves are so beautiful. And we know that seeds have to die before sprouting. And winter does make us more thankful for spring. There is that picture in nature of the hope that comes with a dying of something, and Christ wants us to know that too.
    Christ’s death achieves the possibility for life and freedom for us.
    When we die to ourselves (which is what Christ asks us to do), we find that we can then live for Christ (which is the proper response to Christ’s death).

    It makes me think of “Honest Songs” by Noah Gundersen:
    “I am grateful for winter
    because the winter comes to show
    that our troubles never over
    and work our work is never done
    but with the turning of the season
    we will always see the sun”

  5. Dominic shortridge says:

    1. We are told the the audience is Greek so that we know it is these people to whom Jesus is making his claims to follow him, his call is not exclusive to Jews
    2. Jesus wants to emphasize that it’s those who hate their life in this world, and die to it, will be those who are blessed by eternal life.
    3. Jesus makes it clear that those who follow him will be honored by the father.
    4. Jesus asks me to serve him by being a responsible, loving husband, and a committed and disciplined student at this time in my life.
    5. In light of Jesus’ death, we should live in victory, knowing that we have a savior who has conquered death. Mocking death is not something that we should take lightly, but we can rejoice knowing that death does not have a home on us.

  6. Kathleen says:

    Jesus wants those around him to know he has to die to bring life. This can be a difficult concept to grasp at first. The world does not look at death and see life coming from it. For Christians, we have hope in death. Jesus asks us to lay down our lives in service to him. In light of Jesus’ death, we are to follow him. We can live with assurance, knowing that we have victory over death in Jesus.

  7. sjcavitt says:

    1) I think we are told that the Greeks went to worship at the feast to show that God had a plan for them, because the gospel was for all!
    2) He wants them to know His time to die was close, but through His death, there would be life!
    3) Jesus’ death and our death in Christ bring life!
    4) He asks me to trust His leading in my life and to live my life serving and honoring Him!
    5) We can live in freedom knowing that there is hope in Him!

  8. karas says:

    I don’t know why it matters that they are Greeks, but I’m guessing it has something to do with what they were seeking. Maybe they wanted knowledge and esteem and Jesus was instead warning them that those who wanted to save their lives must die. Jesus set the example, dying according to God’s will to bring about a much greater harvest. I find this so profound, the seeming contradictions that Jesus poses. The first last, the dead alive, the alive dead… His ways are higher than our ways.

  9. Ashley says:

    1. We are told they are Greeks because it is significant that they are Gentiles.
    2. Jesus wants us to know what it is to truly follow him.
    3. Death brings about new life!
    4. Jesus asks me to serve him by waking up every morning and submitting myself to him.
    5. I hope I am filled with vitality, and not living as one who is “dead” and “tired.”

  10. Rachel says:

    Jesus is here proclaiming what it means to truly live. His message is contrary to what is popularly believed. Death to sin brings new life in Christ. Jesus asks me to trust him with my life, to be put to death with him, and raised to new life in his power. I am to live as one who’s life is not mine, but Christ living in me.

  11. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. Why are we told the audience is Greek?
    I like and agree with what everyone else has been saying. It was most likely to show that His hour had come, salvation is for all, and now the Gentiles are included in the plan of salvation.
    2. What does Jesus want this audience to know?
    Th y must die to serve God.
    3. What does death achieve?
    Life. Fruit.
    4. How does Jesus ask you to serve him?
    Die to your life here on earth, so that you might tear fruit and follow Christ.
    5. How are we to live in the light of Jesus’ death and our own?
    Just and Christ dies to do away with sin, we are also dead or sin. As Romans 6 describes, we are now dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. We must walk as slaves to righteousness.

  12. Amy McCashen says:

    Why are we told the audience is Greek? Because it is important that they are Gentiles.
    What does Jesus want this audience to know? He wants them to know what it is like to follow Him.
    What does death achieve? Death brings new life!
    How does Jesus ask you to serve him? By loving Him and loving others.
    How are we to live in the light of Jesus’ death and our own? We are to live freely and confidently, knowing that Jesus has given us eternal life

  13. nataliaria says:

    If I remember correctly from my Gospel of John class, this little vignette from chapter 12 is one of the major turning points in Jesus’ ministry. I believe the fact that the people are Greeks is mentioned to indicate that Jesus’ ministry is no longer focused on the Jew, but now includes both Jew and Gentile, although I could be remembering that incorrectly.

    Jesus wants the audience here to know that His time to be recognized is now at hand, although this recognition will not be like what the Jews are expecting from Him. Rather, His exaltation will come about as a result of His death, in which He will lose His life, in order that many others will gain life.

    In this context, death results in the bearing of fruit.

    Jesus asks those who follow Him to serve Him and obey Him. Those who follow Him will hate their lives in this world, which I interpret not as a mandate to permanent grumpiness and dissatisfaction with everything around us, but rather as an indication that, while believers function quite adequately in this world, they do so with the understanding that they are not living for this world, but rather, that the world to come is so much greater.

    I believe that a life lived in light of Jesus’ death and our own death understands two things: 1) life on earth is limited and is not the be-all, end-all of existence, and 2) Christians are not citizens of this world, but of the Kingdom of Heaven. These two understandings motivate the believer to live a life radically devoted to God, living and moving under His direction and not fearing the responses of man.

  14. Nick says:

    To show that the Greeks (Gentiles) were also a part of God’s plan of salvation. He wants them to know that the hour for the Son of Man to be glorified has come. Death brings about new life and new fruit. He asks me to follow him and to believe in him, and as a result to bear fruit in his name. My life is not my own and it is meant to follow Jesus, and that is how I need to live my life.

  15. Laura Walters says:

    Death achieves the reminder of the truth of life’s fragility, of human mortality, and of an opportunity to be raised again in life.

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