Summary: John 12 concludes Jesus' testimony to the world with a short summary sermon.
2 14 2016 “The Witness of Isaiah, John and Jesus” John 12:36-50
John 12:36: “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light." These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them. 37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: "Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" 39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: 40 "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them." 41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. 42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
The Witness of Isaiah and John
Hearing and seeing is NOT believing, is it? Here John quotes Isaiah 53:1, which begins the Suffering Servant discourse. “Our report” from Isaiah 53:1 would be equal to the very words and teaching of Jesus throughout His ministry. “The arm of the Lord” would be equal to the very works of Jesus during His earthly ministry. Israel witnessed both but the overwhelming majority still rejected God’s choice of Messiah, the Lord Jesus.
There are two things that John brings to light. The first is that the unbelief of Israel is a direct fulfillment of Scripture: John 12:38 clearly records the FACT of unbelief: The answer to “Who has believed our report?” would be, ”Very few”.
Verse 40 indicates the REASON for the unbelief: “He (God) has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts.” It was in God’s Sovereign plan that Israel would reject the Savior sent from Heaven and God would see to it by hardening their hearts toward Him. (You may recall other times in history that God hardened hearts; one was that of Pharoah when God was redeeming His people from Egypt.) When God hardens hearts, He merely withdraws His grace and allows man to operate in his natural unsaved heart. But that does not exclude the human culpability or responsibility of man: Verse 43 explains the natural state of man: “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
Isaiah’s prophecy quoted by John describes God’s Sovereignty in Salvation and coincides with Romans 9-11. Romans 9-11 discusses God’s plan of divine election and reprobation. John 12: 39-40 announces the sovereignty of God in salvation history: “Therefore they could not believe, (man in his natural condition is dead in sin and is incapable of belief.) because Isaiah said again: 40 "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” Like it or not the verses explain how God works in Salvation. The responsibility of every human creature is to BELIEVE in the Son and in His Work, (see John 3:16-21) but man in his blindness, selfishness, and darkness of heart, apart from the divine work of God’s grace, “loves the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Sinful man needs a birth from above in order to believe and follow Jesus.
Jeremiah 17:9 is just one verse that describes the inner condition of man: “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Indeed, man underestimates the depths of his own sin and spiritual condition. Verses 42-43 calls into question the topic of TRUE FAITH.
John 12:42-43: “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Here the evidence for Jesus’ deity was so convincing that many rulers believed in Jesus, but they did not confess Him publicly nor follow Jesus for fear of men. This is a common reaction in the world today as well: Many people are ashamed to speak about the Lord Jesus to others for fear of losing the approval of friends, family or fellow workers. In many cases, to identify with Faith in the Lord Jesus will mean loss of jobs, homes, and the admiration of man.
Time and time again in the Voice of the Martyrs prayer guide we pray for those who have lost everything as a result of declaring the Lord Jesus as THEIR Lord and Savior. True Faith will not be ashamed of the Gospel and will include not only believing in your heart but confessing with your mouth before men. Luke 9:26 says so clearly: “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” An indication of true saving faith is a desire to share the wonderful love of the Gospel with those who do not know the Lord Jesus.