John 12:37-38 NIV
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?”
Continuing from yesterday’s look at verses 35-36, we continue with verses 37 and 38 to begin with here. Verse 37 is largely self-explanatory, 37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. All through John’s Gospel we are told of so many miracles by Jesus that it is beyond comprehension why they (and today those among us) do not believe in Him. There is a sense of incredulity by John in this verse as in “How can this be so?”
Then John offers a bit of an explanation for their lack of belief in Him in the next verse when he quotes Isaiah 53:1, 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?” Jesus is the arm of the Lord whose powers were manifested through Him in His many miracles and His teachings. This quote from Isaiah was clearly understood to be about the Messiah, so Jesus fits the prophecy in great detail. The messages and reports were all over the place throughout all the Gospels yet there were so many who still did not believe.
Why would they not believe? The next two verses tell the story as John quotes Isaiah 6:10 in verse 40, 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.” Morris carefully notes here about John, “He does not mean that the blinding takes place without the will or against the will of these people. So with the hardening of their heart. These men chose evil. It was their own deliberate choice, their own fault.” Bruce adds, “Not one of them was fated to be incapable of belief; it is made plain below in verse 42 that some did in fact believe. But the OT prediction had to be fulfilled, and fulfilled it was in those who, as matter of fact, did not believe.” John was underscoring that their lack of belief was due to God acting in judgment only on those who choose to refuse to believe, to see the reality of Jesus and acknowledge Him as the Messiah. God strengthened them in their belief or lack of it as Isaiah prophesied. John then added, 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
Then we find in the next two verses, 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. They could not publicly acknowledge their belief because they valued their standing in the synagogue more than the truth of Jesus the Christ. This is not so different from what we see today. I can’t go to church, people might think I really believe and make fun of me or think I am no longer a right thinking man or woman. But we are talking about God and His Son. We can have a relationship with God or turn our back on Him because we love the world more than Him. This happens even when we know this time in this life is fleeting versus eternity in the next life.
Bottom Line: We have the same temptations to be not only in the world but to be of the world. They were without excuse just as we will be if we chose not to believe and call upon Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You love us so much that You have the Apostle John tell us again and again how important it is to not only believe, but to embrace our belief and follow Jesus. You give us life lessons over and over so that we are without any way to justify any unbelief. Thank You for loving us so deeply. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton