Sir, We Wish to See Jesus - Bob Sawvelle

Sir, We Wish to See Jesus

This week, often referred to as Holy Week or Passion Week, we celebrate Jesus entering Jerusalem His final week, culminating with His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave! Today, I want to discuss the significance of His entry into Jerusalem and what was occurring.

In John 12:12-33, Jesus had just come to Jerusalem riding on a colt to shouts of “Hosanna!”

People from all over Israel were gathering for Passover. By now, the rumors of Jesus had spread through the nation, and there was an attitude of expectancy among the people gathered.

They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” John 12:13 NIV

The English word Hosanna is a transliteration of the Hebrew expression hôšî-ʿâ (-n)nāʾ, which can mean adoration, a cry for help, request to save, and an imperative to save I pray now. [1]

During Passover week, Psalm 113-118, known as the Hallel (or praise) collection was read. With Jesus coming into Jerusalem, the people rejoiced, as they shouted and sang these Psalms, for many recognized Jesus as the Messiah. For example, Psalm 118 declares,

Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.” Psalm 118:25 NKJV

“Save now, I pray,” translates from the Hebrew, An-na Yaveh Hosi na! Which is a cry for help and to save now, and could mean, “God save us now like never before! Send the Messiah!”

In the same verse, “Oh Lord, I pray, send now prosperity” is from the Hebrew An-na Yaveh, tsâlêach na! Which is a cry for God’s blessing, prosperity and success and could read, “Now God, break forth, advance Yaveh, bring it through to completion and success!”

As Matthew records, “all the city was moved.” (Matt. 21:10) The blind and lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them (Matt. 21:14). Many are asking, “Who is this?” The miracles and rumors about Israel’s Messiah drew them, and caused even the skeptics to think, “Maybe this is the promised Messiah?!” Jesus permits the large crowd to grow. Why?

Jesus was not just fulfilling prophecy; He was prophesying what was coming—a house of prayer where all are welcome!

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Mark 11:17 NKJV Jesus is quoting from the prophet Isaiah, who foretold hundreds of years before God’s intent of gathering people from every tongue, tribe, and nation into His family, His house.

I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isa. 56:7 NLT

God has a vision of a greater house of prayer where the nations, all people, are welcomed. During His most public hour, this was what was on the heart of God. Jesus came lowly on a donkey, not just trying to fulfill prophecy, but prophesying how He would, through His Church, enter cities with humility to expand His kingdom and make His house one of prayer and authentic communion with Him!

However, there was a whole different crowd that week yelling to crucify Him, but not the true worshippers. Day after day they wanted to get into the temple. The crowd was so large that the chief priests had to take him by night. The worshippers were hanging on every word, “Hosanna!” “Save us!”

The religious leaders and others were crying out for Jesus to shut it down! Jesus states, “If they are quiet, even the rocks will cry out!” Why? It must happen; this temple made without hands must be established. Nothing you can do can stop this! Through two thousand years of Church history, nothing can stop the enlargement and advancement of God’s kingdom.

Hope Fuels Expectancy

The people were expecting a political messiah, one who would restore the Davidic kingdom to Israel. They were expecting an earthly Kingdom, He was pointing to one not made with human hands, where all people are welcome! Hope is powerful.

Paul said in 1 Cor. 13:13 “And now faith, hope, and love abide …” Hope from the Greek elpis means to anticipate with pleasure, a confident expectation of a future event. Hope undergirds faith. By nature, hope is joyfully expectant.

It is important for us to live from hope with expectancy. Hope diffused through the church lifts society, brings an awareness of God’s Kingdom that all things are possible with God!

Hope that is steadfast must be anchored in truth. Jesus is truth.

The people’s expectation for a political messiah—a governmental savior—to lift them above Roman oppression created a wrong expectation. The wrong expectation caused many in Jerusalem to lose hope that week. Why?

The people could not see prophetically that He must first come as the suffering Messiah. One who would carry the sin, sickness, and brokenness of humanity on the cross. Jesus wept over Jerusalem that week. His compassion—not His judgment.

Have you ever had a wrong expectation as to how God would answer your prayer, your cry for deliverance? Our assumptions as to how God will move in our lives often causes us to miss His answer and visitation. We do not see Him on a colt, coming in humility!

Our reception of the grace of God is often dependent on our ability to let Him use the foolish to confound the wise, the weak to confound the strong.

Some of the Greeks came to worship at the Feast (John 12:20)

Greeks were coming to worship, and even though they were not of Jewish descent, they were drawn to God through ancient Judaism. They were probably Greek proselytes, much like what we read in Acts 17:1-4.

Notice that worship of Jesus trumps religious tradition. Jesus looks for heart connection, the authentic worshippers who desire Him. It is the longing of everyone, whether they realize this truth or not.

… the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-24 NKJV

There’s a hunger among many today for spiritual things and truth.

Many are hurting today after the ravages of the COVID pandemic and the economic hardship it has created. They need a gospel of hope. An encounter with God’s love and to hear Him speak hope and destiny over their lives. Sadly, the gospel many hear is one of judgment, rather than affirmation.

Jesus died for all, not counting their sins against them, For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:19 NLT) Everyone needs Jesus as savior, and His death and resurrection do not make salvation automatic. However, the way has been made, the gift given to humanity through what Jesus has done!

It’s also a gospel of power—not in word only, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” (1 Cor. 4:20 NIV) A gospel presentation stripped of the power of the Kingdom robs people of encounter with Jesus.

The Greeks came to Philip, “Sir we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:21)

The Greeks came for Passover, but something inside of them cried out to see Jesus. They heard of Him—the miracles—His ride into Jerusalem. It is the cry of humanity all over the world. They are longing to see the Truth and encounter Him, the Father’s love.

Catholic sister and champion for the poor in India, Mother Theresa, once said, “There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation than for bread.” Only Jesus, the Bread of Life, can meet the deepest need of humanity.

All through the gospels, we see the cry of humanity:

The ten lepers, stood afar, “Jesus, Master have mercy on us!” Luke 17:12

The Canaanite woman, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!  My daughter is severely demon-possessed.”  Matt. 15:22

Blind Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, sat begging, “Jesus, Son of David…” Mark 10:47 Someone’s son—real people with real hurts and pains!

The woman with the issue of blood spent all she had with the doctors (Luke 8:43). Many today, desperate, without hope, some extremely ill and their only hope is a miracle from Jesus—must get to Him!

The Greeks knew that Philip could lead them to Jesus.

The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” John 1:43-46 NKJV

Philip says, “Come and see.” Philip had an encounter with the Lord that changed him. In a moment, God’s presence redirected him. Encounter brought Philip into relationship and destiny.

Do not be discouraged by the skepticism of others! Reach the lost, the least, and the last of society and introduce them to Jesus!

Many are crying out in this hour, “Save now oh God!” “Send prosperity God!” But only Jesus can answer the deepest longing in the human heart, “There is no other name under heaven…” Acts 4:12 NKJV

Humanity is looking for Jesus in us… Do our lives reflect Him?

All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation…So we are ambassadors who represent Christ. God is negotiating with you through us. We beg you as Christ’s representatives, “Be reconciled to God!” 2 Cor. 5:18, 20 CEB

God has given us the ministry of reconciliation—we are ambassadors for Christ. We are destined to be conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29). As we spend time in His presence and Word, we are changed from His glory to glory, and as we go into the world, His presence diffuses through us to touch the lives of others.

Final Thoughts

The religious leaders in Israel were looking for the Messiah to establish His government.  But God knew that the greatest need man had was to come to Jesus to have their sins atoned for and to be filled with His Spirit and walk in truth with Him.

Only Jesus can fill the deepest need of humanity!  Not the government, not the UN.

Your greatest need is to have Jesus completely fill your life with His presence!  This will only happen as we die to ourselves, and completely surrender to Him.

Jesus is the true bread that we hunger for!  Support social programs and meeting the physical needs of people, but we must have Him foremost!

As we fall completely in love with Him and allow Him to be at the center of our lives, then we will see the hurts and pains of life disappear!  Come close!

Church, the hour has come that Jesus should be glorified. Are we willing to pay the price so that He may be glorified in our lives and His Church? If not us, then who?

Are we ready to die to our selfish ambitions, lay aside our own plans and run after Him?  It is time, Church!  Revival is at the door, it’s God’s gift to us!


Bob Sawvelle Signature


For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Sir, We Wish to See Jesus”

[1] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 1356 (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1995).

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