Hard Life for the Hard Heart- John 12

Jesus did so much to prove who He was. 

Many people today say that if they could meet Him face to face then surely they’d believe.  I doubt most people who say that, that is those who continue to say such a thing,  have been honest with themselves.  Even people of His time, who saw (in person) real and undeniable MIRACLES, did not to believe in Him. 

Verse 39 says “for this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn- and I would heal them.””

This is not the easiest passage to understand.  It seems to have a lot in common with Pharaoh’sheart being hardened.  Some people try to explain it by saying that God pointed fingers at random and decided who would and would not be capable of believing.  We know that’s a fallacy however, for many reasons.  One reason being that God Himself said through Paul that He “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

The quote in verse 40 of our text is from Isaiah 6:10.  Let’s go there.  God is sending Isaiah unto Israel with a message.  There’s more to it than that, but you’ll have to go back and read it carefully (noting in vs. 9-10 what Isaiah is told to “say” and what he’s told to “do”).  I’m still working on that one myself.  But in response Isaiah asks how long.  God says (to sum it up) until Israel’s cities are destroyed and the Israelites are sent far away.  All of this is because of Israel’s unfaithfulness.

Also quoted in our John text is another passage in Isaiah.  John says it’s a prophecy fulfilled by the people not believing in Jesus.  This quote is from Isaiah 53:1, and again you really should go to it and consider it in relation to our John 12 text.

While I have some ideas about what the entire meaning of this passage in John is, I won’t lay out my speculation here.  I’d hate to lead someone astray.  But what I can say is this…

Every person presented with Christ has a choice to make.  Choose Him and you will live.  You can ask your questions, but do not do so proudly.  You’ve been shown clearly enough that God exists and you have been shown that you have indeed sinned.  God does not expect you to say you believe in Him if you really don’t… He expects you to really believe in Him.  So leave no stone in your heart unturned and throw your all at His feet.  Consider everything with eyes wide open… He will answer you.  And the humble in heart will love His answer.

But a person could also choose to be proud and arrogant.  They could choose to close their ears, and turn their eyes, and harden their hearts.  This is not a correct answer to a math problem that they’re making, it’s a decision of what the answer is regardless of the equation.  It is not a whole hearted honest response, it’s a choice to reject the evidence before them because they want to believe something else.  Such a response may have results you didn’t plan on though.

A warning to any such person is found in John 12:37-50.  Go down this path, just as Pharaoh foolishly did, and you run the danger of having your heart hardened.  This hardening may last until you come to your last breath, in which case you will have ruled out for yourself any possibilityof hearing the truth with your heart.  Or the hardening may last until the false kingdom in your heart is destroyed, and you experience a pain and suffering for which you only have yourself to blame.

Lamentations 3:31-33 says “For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.  Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love.  For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”  It is not God’s desire to make you suffer.  But He will do it to open your eyes and ears, to soften your heart.  The pain is your own doing, for it would not hurt to tear a thing from you unless you yourself stitched it into your own flesh.

Tear it off He will though, if you dare to let it go.  Better still, believe on Him when He comes to you, and save yourself the heartache of seeing your lie destroyed.  Believe on Him, that He might save you from the wrath to come.

Verse 41 brings up some more interesting thoughts, and again I can’t tell you I have it all figured out.  Likely it’s simply referring to the event described in the beginning of Isaiah 6.  Whether it is speaking of that event or something else, it’s clear that seeing the glory of Christ will change a person.  For better or worse, believe that you will be changed.  And know that you will have to answer for your response to Him.  Don’t chance eternal suffering for the sake of keeping your heart calloused.

Praise God!!!  Believe in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of man!!!

Only If You Flatter Me! (John 8)

The second half of John 8 is spoken to the Jews who believed in Jesus.  But when you read it, you get the impression that their belief was weak.  It would seem that they didn’t like to believe when Jesus spoke to their sin.

It’s hard, as a Christian who tries to give his all to Christ, to hear of others who claim to have a faith but deny Him if He hurts their pride.  To watch people have such a wishy-washy faith in the One who died for them, who suffered for them, who became a man for them.  It’s unreal how unthankful people can be.

But then I’ m reminded of my own struggles.  Sometimes I’m faced with a situation that  requires I be humbled if I’m to follow Christ.  And sometimes I don’t give up my pride like I should. 

It’s never an intentional thing when I forsake Him.  But that’s just it… I should always intentionally follow Him.  I should have nothing less than a fully intentional, moment-by-moment, living for Him faith.

The Holy Spirit convicts His people when they walk in sin.  When I’ve been convicted and rebuked for my forsaking Him I have two choices… I can swallow my pride and address the situation, or I can go on living in my pride.

My belief will not be limited to one who will flatter me, it is only placed in He who has the words of life!

How do we miss Him? (John 7)

Often times those of us who are Christians neglect or forget the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.  We wonder just how exactly He’s working in our lives.  It can be hard to recognize what’s us and what’s Him.  But that is only made worse by our neglecting Him.

What’s easy to recognize is that Jesus spoke of the Spirit as having a powerful and active presence in His people.  Notice here in John 7, Jesus doesn’t tell us that we will have a dripping faucet of the Holy Spirit.  He speaks of the Spirit as One that we “drink” and receive as “RIVERS of living water.”

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, `From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ “  But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

We certainly don’t want to assign our fallen actions to the living God.  But what a tragedy for Christians to not even pay attention to God within.  What a sad thing that we as people can think so highly of ourselves that we cannot even differentiate between ourselves and God.

He works mightily within His people.  Let’s make sure to give proper credit where credit is due.  If we come to Jesus, and if we abide in Him and love Him, we will learn to appreciate the Rivers of Living Water that flow within the Christian soul.

It should be easy to remember when rivers flow within oneself.

Loyalty of Authority (John 5)

In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes:

Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have told them by someone you think is trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning there the must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority — because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.

There are good reasons to accept many of the things we believe.  But none of them are as good as the reasons we have to accept Jesus.  How can we expect to know and believe truth if we don’t consider where authority truly comes from? 

A Scientists come to us and says we should believe him because he personally studied a thing out.  Scholars, politicians, judges, presidents, neighbors, loved ones, everyone does it.  But who are they?  They are only men, susceptible to the same sins of compromise that all men fall to. 

And even if a person is right on a thing, the very thing they’re right about would itself testify for Christ.   And if a man is against Christ then that thing in which he put his hope will betray him and side, as it always has, with Christ.  Creation makes no allegiance to that which opposes the Creator, nor does it pretend to.  It will oppose us if we are against the Living God.

As we examined in the previous post, Jesus’ witness have rightful claim to authority.  We would do good to listen to them… and to listen to God.

Hebrews 12:1-3:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

 

 

The Model Relationship (John 5)

John 5:18-24:

For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

 

 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.  “For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel.  “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.  “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,  so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

 

 

The rulers knew (John 3)

I’m finding that doing these blogs is bringing out things in the Scriptures that I never gave much thought to.  This post is about a thing that I’ve given thought to, but not in relation to this passage.

John 3 begins with the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night.  There is much discussion even today over the things which Jesus taught the man.  But I’ve never heard discussion on, nor thought about a word in verse 2… “we”

It has always been apparent to me that Nicodemus had some faith in Christ.  And other passages of Scripture have made it clear that the religious leaders of the Jews also knew the truth of Christ, though I wouldn’t use the word faith when describing their attitude towards Christ. 

This passage, it turns out, supports the fact that the leaders knew, and from early on.  Nicodemus told Jesus “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God.”  Nicodemus wasn’t alone, at least not in his knowledge.  It’s funny to me to speak of Nicodemus’ knowledge, because the passage goes right into the lack of his knowledge.  But that’s addressing a different matter, one I hope to speak on tomorrow.  For now, we are concerned with the rebellious leaders.

It sickens me to think that the leaders knew who Jesus was, yet they acted against Him anyway.  What a vile and disgusting thing.  What a treacherous thing.  But then as I consider it more, my thoughts drift closer to home.  I remember that I too have done this to Christ in my own life.  I made myself into a wretch.

But thank God that nothing is beyond His reach.  Psalm 139 so perfectly speaks to this, to God’s reach in our lives.  Read it if you get a chance.

Today’s leaders are not much different in their ways, and I’m not only speaking of those in politics.  I’m speaking in general terms… leaders in sciences, media, culture, business, literature… and the list goes on.  Some of these leaders know who Christ is.  They know, though they may be too afraid to honestly consider Him in the still, quiet moments of their lives.  Instead they delude their own minds, thinking that they can somehow steal from God and get away from it.  They think nobody knows.

But by their own actions their hearts are revealed. 

And they will give an account for what they do with the knowledge of Christ.  Let us all pray that before their day comes they all accept His salvation, that they will follow the trail that Nicodemus left for them… the quiet one that leads to Christ when all that surrounds them is darkness. 

And Let us continue to speak the truth to them in love.  Let us continually make sure that we ourselves are not guilty of the same treason… knowing who Christ is, yet trying to take what is His for our own pleasures.

Hebrews 1:2 “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”