37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
(John 12:37-50 NIV)
As we finish chapter 12 today, John summarizes the relationship between Jesus and the religious leaders. Looking back, John shares his wisdom and insight about Jesus, then captures Jesus’ last words of public ministry.
In verses 37 – 41, John remarks that even after Jesus performed many signs and miracles to demonstrate He was sent from God and was the Messiah, the religious leaders did not accept Him. John then references two quotes from Isaiah foretelling that this unbelief would occur.
Let’s pause here for a moment and understand what Isaiah and John were and were not saying. First, John and Isiah were not saying that God purposely blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of the religious leaders. The second half of verse 38 tells us that God had extended His loving arms repeatedly to His children (the nation of Israel), but they had not accepted His invitation. Nothing had changed in the hearts and minds of the religious leaders from the days of Isaiah up through Jesus’ day.
Second, John was saying that God allowed the religious leaders to have their way. God offered the light of Himself through Jesus, but they refused the Light and wandered off into the darkness again, just as their forefathers did in Isaiah’s day. The consequences were spiritual blindness and deafness. Paul outlined this slippery slope of rejecting God in Romans 1:18-32. The path may vary slightly, but the self-inflicted consequences are the same. In verse 41, John is careful to note that Isaiah wrote this second quote (verse 40) about Jesus because he saw Jesus’ glory.
In verses 42 – 43, John contrasts the general unbelief of the religious leaders with the faith of many within the group. John comments that those in the group who believed in Jesus were silent because of fear of the Pharisee’s ban on anyone who openly followed Jesus (John 9:22) and that they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Has human nature changed since Isaiah’s day and Jesus’ day until now? Do people still reject Jesus and wander around in their darkness, or secretly believe in Him but say or do nothing regarding Jesus because of fear of rejection or ridicule by other humans?
In verses 44 – 50, John records the last words of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. Note that Jesus “cried out”. Jesus’ words were not a cry of pain, but of public announcement. Jesus sums up His ministry and offers one last opportunity to follow Him in faith. In summary, Jesus is saying:
- If you believe in Me, you believe in God the Father (v. 44)
- When you see Me, you see God the Father (v. 45)
- I am the Light that leads you out of darkness of sin and bondage to eternal life (v. 46)
- I came to earth to offer salvation, not judgment (v. 47)
- My words will condemn those who reject me when the world is judged (v. 48)
- I have only said what the Father told me to say (v. 49)
- My Father’s commands lead to eternal life.
I am telling you exactly what my Father told Me to say (v. 50)
May we follow Jesus’ example and share the truths of God’s Word with those who will listen, not to judge, but in love, pointing them to Christ.
Jesus’ offer of salvation still stands today.