Summary: The crowd rejects Jesus despite His miracles, thus fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah and proving Jesus’ Messiah-ship.
We’re continuing with our verse-by-verse study of John and we’ve come near the end of chapter twelve. The Greeks have asked for an audience with Jesus which signifies the last hour of His earthly ministry. He knows that soon He’ll go to the cross, but He also knows He’ll be resurrected. This is the way God has chosen to give true life to His children, and anyone who follows Christ will also face death but also has the same promise of resurrection and eternal life. So now Jesus prepares His disciples for what’s coming. Everything since the resurrection of Lazarus has built up to this moment. They don’t understand a lot of what He means, but they do believe in Him. They’ve been with Him since the beginning and seen all His miracles and they know He’s come from God. Many others, however, aren’t convinced. These are the people in chapter twelve. He tells them to walk by the light:
But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
Now, here we’re tempted to start talking about predestination and reprobation and what natural men can and can’t do with spiritual things, but remember that John isn’t trying to prove this. I’m not saying this doesn’t support those teachings, but I am saying it’s not John’s main point and it wasn’t originally a Doctrines of Grace proof-text. The Jews had no trouble with election and predestination. Their big problem is John’s main point: Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. He wants us to know for sure that He is the Messiah so we can believe on Him and have eternal life. So the question we have to ask going into this text is how do the quotations from Isaiah help us believe?
The first part of finding that answer is to recognize that it might be problematic that so many Jews rejected Him. These are God’s chosen people. They know the Scriptures. Shouldn’t we respect their judgment as “experts” in this matter and at least wonder about the authenticity of Christ’s claims? I mean, if so many experts say “no” then it’s at least worth considering.
But this is exactly why John quotes these verses. The question is raised: Why do so many Jews reject Him? “Because,” says John, “that’s what’s been predicted.” Let’s go back and read the prophecies:
The first quotation comes from Isaiah 53:1, but we need to start in chapter 52 to get the context. The actual verse doesn’t make much sense unless we get the whole main idea of the passage. We’ll start in 52:1:
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. 2Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. 3For thus saith the LORD, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money. 4For thus saith the Lord GOD, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. 5Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed. 6Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I. 7How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! 8Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion. 9Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. 10The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. 11Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD. 12For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.