"Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' Philip came and told Andrew and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, 'The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor" (John 12:20-26).
It is assumed that these Greeks were proselytes to Judaism since they were traveling with Jews to Jerusalem for the Passover feast.
"Sir, we wish to see Jesus" - It is unknown why they specifically addressed Philip, though some believe they were drawn to him since he had a Greek name. Their desire is not just to catch a glimpse of Jesus, but to be able to speak with Him. Certainly their intent is to learn more about this Man who had generated so much interest through His miracles and teaching. These Greeks are quite a contrast to the Jews who continued to reject Jesus. It is probable that Jesus is still in the portion of the temple that housed the treasury. No Gentile had access to this area, and this is likely why these Gentiles didn't approach Jesus personally.
This is one of the first indications of interest in Jesus from non-Jews. In the span of a few years, this interest would spread over the entire Gentile world and bring salvation to multitudes who were currently lost in paganism.
"Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus" - Philip desired for someone else to share in the responsibility of this situation since he was probably uncertain as to exactly what should be done. Up until that time, the apostles knew that the gospel invitation had been restricted to the house of Israel (cf. Matt. 10:5,6; 15:24), but now Gentiles were showing an active interest in Jesus. Philip and Andrew make the request known to Jesus together.
It is unknown whether the request was granted, but it is likely that it was. The following verses were probably spoken in the presence of Jews and Gentiles.
"The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified" (John 12:23). Previously, the time had not been right (cf. 2:4; 7:6,30; 8:20), but now it was time for Jesus to be glorified through His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. These things were necessary before the gospel could be preached in its fullest sense to the Jews and Gentiles.
"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain" - As a grain must "die" in order to germinate and ultimately produce fruit, so Jesus must die in order to bear much fruit (i.e., the salvation of lost souls through His blood). Jesus speaks these words to illustrate the fact that only through His death could His work be completed and glory come. In any seed is the germ of life, but only when it is planted (i.e., "dies" to itself by ceasing to exist as a seed as it opens up and sprouts) is fruit able to be produced. If a seed remains unplanted it will not "die" but instead remain fruitless. Jesus knew it would be difficult for His disciples to accept the idea of Him dying, yet He wants them to understand that such is necessary to fulfilling God's plan. If Jesus had not died, then He would not have born any fruit in the form of saving the lost.
"He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (cf. Matt. 16:25). This paradoxical statement simply means that a servant of God who appears to have little concern for the preservation of his earthly life is really guaranteeing himself eternal life in heaven. Certainly Jesus has His own death in mind, though this is a general principle. On the other hand, if a seed "saved itself," it would remain as one grain until it rots. But, if it gives up its life-germ in good soil, it will multiply itself indefinitely from one planting generation to the next.
"If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also" - Those who are truly faithful to Jesus will follow Him in doctrine, disposition, and duty. Jesus wants His disciples to follow Him in fruit-bearing self-sacrifice. One of the greatest joys of following Jesus is the expectation of being with Him in heaven (cf. II Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23).
It is foolish to claim to be a servant of Christ while refusing to do His will (cf. I John 2:4). The Father will honor those who serve Jesus with the gift of eternal life and the glory of a home in heaven.