John 12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
We are not sure exactly why these Greek folks approach Philip, but they do. There seem to be a couple of explanations including the fact that Philip is from Bethsaida — and maybe these folks were as well. Or, Philip and Andrew, while both Jews, had Greek names. The Greeks may have felt more comfortable coming to someone with whom they may have had some kind of a connection.
The timeline is also just a little difficult to sort out but it may have been that in this very week Jesus had been at the temple, driving out the traders and declaring that this was to be ‘a house of prayer for all nations.’ If this word had reached the ears of God-fearing Greeks, they may have been inspired by the hope which they may have sensed in what Jesus had to offer. It’s interesting to note that in the very week when the Jews are turning against him, Gentiles are reaching out toward him.
Whatever the exact reasons, both Philip and Andrew ended up acting as advocates for these Greeks. There was some kind of a connection and the disciples became advocates for those who wanted to be included in the good news. Philip and Andrew responded and became the bridge to those Greeks, introducing them to Jesus.
I wonder whether those Greeks would have ever gotten close to Jesus had it not been for Philip and Andrew. There are people in this world who will not make it close to Jesus unless we act as an advocate as well. This encounter was during Holy Week — a time in the Lenten journey when things began to shift. The end of the week would be tragic — and victorious at the same time. In many ways it didn’t make sense to the disciples' human minds and sometimes things around us don’t make sense either.
We are encouraged to be advocates for those who need a bridge to Christ. In the case of Philip and Andrew it may have been where they were from — or their names. Whatever it was, there was something that created a connection.
Often when we meet someone for the first time we have a conversation in which we try to make connections. We ask if they know “so and so” and if they’ve been to “such and such” a place.
A couple of weeks ago my husband Chuck went to get his hair cut at a mall in Florida. Before heading out that day he prayed that God might lead him into conversations that would be used for his glory. He went to one of those places in the mall where you don’t need an appointment and sat down and began a conversation with Veronica. As she cut his hair they were looking for those connecting points. She mentioned that she used to live in Ohio and after a few questions there was a point of connection. Veronica had been raised in a small Nazarene church in Ohio but had been running from the Lord for quite a period of time. She was trying to raise her children, was struggling, and wondered what to do. Chuck was the bridge, reconnecting her with her faith. He encouraged her to take her children to church and to make the Lord a priority in her life. Then, he prayed with her. He was the bridge, or the advocate, whom God chose to use that day.
How often might those connections be made, if only we were attentive! We all have ways in which we can serve as advocates to bring people to Christ. On the Lenten journey, may our eyes and ears be open to the needs of those around us, and to the connecting points which allow us to be advocates for others.
Lord, open our hearts to your leading. May my heart break for the lost around me and may I serve as your advocate in your kingdom’s work. Amen.
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