Summary: Exposition of John 12
Text: John 12:37-50, Title: Anatomy of Unbelief, Date/Place: NRBC, 3/10/13, AM
A. Opening illustration: Dangerous Theology, “We must never forget that it is by God’s appointment that if His
word does not quicken, it must deaden.”
B. Background to passage: the scandal of the unbelief of God’s chosen people was a thorn in the flesh for the
followers of Jesus. And what we see here was not the beginning of their unbelief, but a continuation of the
pattern established in the first part of the gospels, and the first parts of the bible. And John notes that they
“kept on disbelieving” with the imperfect tense. One little precursory note—John notes that Isaiah said what
he said “when he saw the glory of God.” That is interesting on a couple of fronts. First is that the context of
what Jesus has just been speaking about is the glorification of the Son of Man. Secondly, this truth we are
about to speak of is close to the core of who God truly is—in this instance, One who is absolutely free to open
the eyes of the blind or restrain the eyes of those who might see, revealing Himself to only those He chooses
and when He chooses. Absolute freedom is very close to the core of who God really is. Another place this
link is found is in Ex 33:18-19. God’s name, His being, His core is proclaimed in the description: “I will be
gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy.”
C. Main thought: in this text we see people who see but don’t see, on purpose. This morning I want to look at
some characteristics of unbelief.
In spite of evidence (v. 37)
1. In this instance, and often unbelief is held in the face of a good body of proof. John notes here that Jesus
did many signs (indicators of deity) in their presence. And yet, they still chose not to believe.
4. Unbelief for good reason or for no reason is blameworthy. There is not enough proof for some people.
Some people have already made up their minds, they just want your agreement, not your opinion. Some
just have to be against it. Some people would argue with a fencepost. And according to Jesus their
condemnation will be worse.
B. So that prophesy may be fulfilled (v. 38)
1. John also notes that their unbelief was
also due to Isaiah’s prophesy. God foretold through Isaiah that
people would reject the messiah. He would be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; despised,
rejected, slandered, and mocked.
2. 3 the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. 4 Yet the LORD has not
given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day. –Deut 29:3-4
3. Illustration: Although the Greek conjunction hina sometimes has resultative force (the meaning here
would then be that the unbelief of the people resulted in the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, not
that it occurred in order that Old Testament prophecy might be fulfilled), no such weakening can be