When Greeks in the festival crowd came looking for Jesus, the fourth Gospel describes a scene of conniptions! It seems their agent and Hellenistic namesake, Philip, part of Jesus’ inner circle, takes their petition to Andrew (arguably and anecdotally a little closer to the main man). When Jesus finally hears the request, we enter a moment strangely familiar to his response to Peter’s “Good Confession” (seen in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but not in John). Jesus’ focus now falls on the inevitability of the crucifixion that will paradoxically introduce the fulfilment of his purpose. John’s bent for drama underlines Jesus’ devotion to this awareness with a clap of thunder and the divine voice loudly acclaiming Jesus and his Way.
Greeks in a crowd at a Hebrew festival were not unusual. Hebrew society had not escaped the universal Greek enculturation of the Mediterranean. Non-Jews were tolerated at best, but were never really “in.” Greeks looking for Jesus were a harbinger of the Way of Christ that does not discriminate, for in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free, for all are one …”
It would take a crucifixion, a resurrection and an outpouring of the Spirit, however, to bring about this habitual “welcome of the other.”