These are the words of Greeks who have travelled to Jerusalem. Although relegated by the Jews to the status of a religious underclass, they are anxious to meet the Messiah. John 12 describes their relayed request as part of a rapid escalation in the course of events that lead to the crucifixion.
By this time, Christ's emphatic declarations on His rejection, suffering and gift of eternal life have finally resonated with Mary. She has had a foretaste of eternal life. Jesus has miraculously brought back her brother, Lazarus, from the grave. She has realised that the resurrection of all sinners, including herself, to eternal life will be procured at the tremendous cost of the sinless Saviour’s own death. He is the Lamb of God. She responds with a poignant tearful gesture, pouring expensive perfume on Him to honour the fatal ordeal that will befall her beloved Master.
Judas is openly critical of the presumed extravagance. The thief's flimsy pretext for treachery is formed. The hope of running the finances of Christ’s earthly empire has evaporated. In a few days, the chief priests and Pharisees will bribe him to help end Jesus’ escalating fame and authority. They are exasperated at their hitherto futile attempts to halt His popularity. Previously, even soldiers sent to arrest Him were transfixed by the charisma of His all-surpassing insight and power.
The Jewish leaders’ incensed rejection of Christ represents the culmination of rebellion against God by a people delivered, time and time again, by divine intervention from helpless oppression. Through Jesus, the Holy Spirit's unrestrained display of supernatural power over harm and evil is a clear, generous and final overture of reconciliation. The Messiah is clearly identified by divine acts intended to restore the Jewish nation to renewed harmony with their God.
Yet, Christ is completely spurned. The chief priests now know that Jesus has even imparted life to a dead man; yet they want both Jesus and Lazarus dead. Mankind, as represented by the response of these leaders, prefers darkness to light. Darkness accepts any plausible excuse to escape the rightful demand to surrender to Him on His terms and own our guilt over self-rule. Light, as insight into our true motives and duty to the Creator, banishes the hollow arguments against His absolute authority in our lives.
By expending all excuses, mankind stands condemned, yet hostile towards its Author. It won’t be long before lethal anger is unleashed against Him.
The mortal hatred is the final proof that, if we decline God's grace, human civilisation will always reject God with finality in favour of relatively short-lived semblance of self-rule under Satan, even with the highest, best and most obvious evidence of divine love, Jesus in supernatural life-giving restoration.
The rejection reaches its climax as God allows the Jews to carry out their murderous plot against His Son. The news that the Greeks are anxious to meet the Messiah is conclusive proof to Jesus that the grace of God is largely passing away from the Jews to those previously excluded from divine privilege. The parable of the two sons and that of the tenants are told to reinforce this idea.
So, now the guilt is overwhelming. The contempt and conspiracy to end His fame are beyond reversal. It only remains for the verdict to be handed down. Satan’s case for remaining in power over human civilisation has collapsed through our Messiah's embrace of unfaltering sinless obedience, even to death. The new Adam will endure a publicly humiliating execution without divine intervention, thereby aligning all of divine justice with God’s desire to bestow repentance, forgiveness and eternal life.
It is a decisive moment as the crucial events unfold that lead to His death on the cross:
‘Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.'
We should also take heart in His declaration about the immense power derived from His sacrifice to God:
"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."