Saturday 28 February 2015

John 12:37-43 - Believe it or not

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Jesus has healed the unhealable, raised the dead, and performed all the miracles that, according to the best Jewish teaching, could only be done by the Messiah. And despite this the authorities still don't believe! Why not?

It's significant that in verse 36, Jesus 'finished speaking, left and hid himself from them'. He is acting out what is in their hearts; he is also fulfilling the words of Isaiah. Verse 39 tells us they could not believe, Jesus has chosen to hide himself from them by blinding them and hardening their hearts. This should sound familiar, it's exactly what Yahweh did to Pharaoh, hardening his heart (Exodus 11:9-10).

In much the same way, the Jewish authorities are not permitted to accept Jesus' teaching. Just as Pharaoh didn't want the Israelites to be free to leave Egypt, so the chief priests and teachers did not want them to follow Jesus into freedom from the Temple worship. They saw this as a dangerous, existential threat to their own power and privilege. And just as Pharaoh would not let the people go until the death of the firstborn and the first passover, so the Jewish powers will not let them go until the death of Jesus (the Firstborn, the Son himself) and the final passover with his followers.

Verses 43 and 44 are very striking. Many among the leaders did believe in him, but they loved human praise more than praise from the Almighty. They were afraid of being thrown out of their places of power and authority. Can you imagine their dilemma? They were thinking, 'Yes, this man Yahshua has done all the things the Messiah would do, the evidence is there, he must be the One to come. But if we admit this and accept him openly the Pharisees will kick us out of office.

Let's be careful that we don't think in this way. Jesus is far more important than any institution or tradition. We can cling to what we have always known and remain respectable, or we can risk everything to follow Jesus. Which do you value the most, people's respect and approval, or life in Christ?

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