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!!!

Follow Him (John 1)

So today as I was reading on in John 1 I was thinking still about what it must have been like for John the Baptist to know he was spoken of exclusively in a prophecy from Isaiah.  I can’t fully imagine what life would be like if I was in his spot.

It must have been at least a little bit of a struggle not to become proud.  I mean, that’s no small honor John was given.  When I look at the text here in John 1 it looks like he was gaining quite a following.  So many people were coming to him to be baptised.  He even had his own disciples!  Add to that having the hypocritical religious leaders of the Jews snooping around, and it would be hard for me not to think more highly of myself then I ought to.

Well it seems like John did a pretty good job of keeping his ego in check.  When people wondered if he was the Messiah, he quickly responded with humility. 

And we see something special from John in 1:35-36.  These disciples of his, these followers, were obviously supporting John in his work.  And with all the Jews around there, John certainly had his work cut out for him.  Two of them were down by the water with him as he was baptising the people.  John had already declared that Jesus was the Messiah.  He fulfilled a major part of his task, though much work was left to be done.  And Jesus, he didn’t make any indication to John that He needed any help.  So I imagine if I was John I’d still be wanting all the help I could get.

But I’m not John.  And instead of seeing John as a man scared to lose his disciples, we see John as a man eager to give God the glory.  When Jesus comes walking by the water again, he tells his disciples “Hey look, that’s Him!  That’s the Lamb of God!”  And with the way these two disciples so quickly turn and follow Jesus, it’s clear that John had lifted Christ up properly.  We see no questions from John’s disciples, and we don’t see John dishing out advice to them like it’s his kids leaving home for good.  They just go.  And John just watches…

Christ has called all Christians to do likewise.  If you are a Christian, and not all who claim to be are, you must remember that you have given your life to Him.  You have committed putting yourself on a cross, and going out into the world with the purpose of bringing the world to Him. 

Looking back at my life, I’m saddened to see how often I’ve failed to follow the example John set.  Instead of pointing to God, I have often pointed to myself.  I sometimes even start with the intentions of pointing to Christ, but instead I get to focused on how good of a person I am and how good of a Christian I am.  If I saw the truth of it, I would know that I’m not as good as I think.

Is this true for you?  Do you get so worried about what people think of you that you forget your mission?  Your mission, not to simply look good, but to declare with your actions that God is good?  If so, read over the accounts of John the baptist and ask God for understanding.  Look at how John always seemed to take the focus off of himself and shift it towards Christ.  You will find encouragement and insight on how to do the same.  If God has called you to a work, believe He will provide what is needed for that work!

And your work is to point to Him.

It’s YOU!

Continuing on in John 1…

So imagine you are born as a Jew into the world around 3AD, and as you grow up you are taught the truth of Judaism.  You embrace Judaism, and Jehovah God.  And as you grow up you hear your family talking; they speak of the Messiah being already born, and of salvation for the Jews finally being at hand.

Now imagine what it would have been like to read Isaiah 40:1-2:

“Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God. 
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.”

Imagine you’re trying to work through all that, not knowing what we in the 21st century know about Jesus and His blood. The passage is talking about something big, about a change.  God Himself is going do something amazing for His people.

Then you read the next three verses:

“A voice of one calling:
“In the desert prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” “

Wouldn’t you be eager to hear this voice?  Wouldn’t you want to find the one calling out?  Now imagine, if you can, that you are told that you are to be that voice!  And it’s not just some dude coming up to you and saying “Hey, what if…”  You know without a shadow of a doubt that this passage is speaking specifically, directly, and exclusively about you.  You! 

There’s a prophecy about you in the Holy Writ.  People have been reading this for hundreds of years and wondering who it would be.  When it would be.  How it would happen…  Well, now you must show them.

That’s a lot to take in for one sitting.

And then imagine that you continue in your walk with God, learning more about His word.  You have to now view Scripture knowing that you are a part of it in a way that’s different.  Your free will choices will prove the prophecy true, and you know that somehow it will not be any other way.  You read on about the Messiah, and now you must think about your direct involvement with Him here on earth.  For you are the one who is to reveal Him to Israel.

You are John the Baptist, the voice in the desert.

What a life directing event!  What a mind-altering realization! 

What a burden…

What an honor!!

So John followed what the Scripture said he would do.  He revealed the Christ, who by the way happened to be a man he was related to.  It’s hard for me to put myself in John’s position.  The man from the prophecy in Isaiah 40.  The man who would show the world who the Messiah was.

I don’t know how exactly how John found out this passage was about Him.  But one didn’t just go around Jerusalem claiming to be the voice in Isaiah 40.  One didn’t casually go around declaring who the Messiah was.  And we see the humility John displays when they asked who he was; he said he’s not even worthy of loosing a sandal strap.  This wasn’t a man who had any reason to doubt the fact, or a proud man looking to pull one over on people.  Somehow John knew for sure that he was the one the Scripture spoke about.

Can you imagine?