The fact that the Greeks are mentioned at this point is significant. The ancient world saw them as wanderers and seekers of truth. They are considered to be God-fearers because they attended Jewish synagogues and feasts. Their coming to the feast can symbolize the coming of Gentiles to worship God through Christ. Compare John 10:16.
The reason why they may have approached Philip was because he was a Greek. His name is Greek. He may have had some contact with Greeks from the Decapolis area. Philip went to Andrew, and together they approached Jesus. Since there were many who wanted to speak with Jesus, the disciples may have done screening of the seekers. Compare http://ref.ly/Lk18.15-16.
Jesus is slowly and methodically moving toward His purpose for coming to the earth. The coming of these Greek individuals confirmed that the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Note http://ref.ly/Jn12.23, http://ref.ly/Jn13.1 and http://ref.ly/Jn17.1. For some death is their humiliation. For Jesus death was His means of entry into glory. His willingness to give up His life for the sinner was in obedience to the Father. http://ref.ly/Is53.10 and http://ref.ly/Is53.12. It would make His name renown. The words “I tell you the truth” introduces a solemn affirmation. Look at the analogy that is used by Jesus. It is of a kernel of wheat “dying” in the ground and producing many seeds teaches that death is necessary for a harvest.
The wheat analogy (v. 24) illustrates a general paradoxical principle: death is the way of life. In Jesus’ case, His death led to glory and life not only for Himself but also for others.
In the case of a disciple of Jesus, the principle is similar. The disciple must hate their life in this world. To “hate one’s life” means to be so committed to Christ that he has no self-centeredness. There is no concern for themselves. The one who loves his life will lose it. Anything in life can become an idol including goals, interests and love. Note Luke 12:16-21 and Luke 18:18-30. The believer must experience spiritual death to self. Romans 6:1-14, 2 Cor. 5:14-15; Gal. 6:14.
The believer who seeks to be a servant of Jesus must follow Him. Many of Jesus’ original servants did follow Him in death. The early disciples died as martyrs. Jesus’ words were prophetic and a promise. His true disciples (those who serve Him) follow Jesus in humiliation. They would have honor or glory. Romans 8:17, 36-39, 2 Tim. 2:11-13.