WHOSE FAULT IS IT?
“Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him.
This was to fulfil the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
For this reason, they could not believe because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so that they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn — and I would heal them.”
Isaiah said this because He saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him.” John 12:37-41 NIV.
This is John’s commentary on the ways of God.
Perhaps, after years of reflection on the life of the Master whom he had followed for three and a half years, heard, watched and puzzled over during the years of His public ministry, grieved over when He died and rejoiced over when He rose again, John began to understand the truths of the sacred Book he had come to love. The pieces of the puzzle were fitting together as he studied and meditated on the Scriptures and, with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, understanding began to grow.
Why were the Jews so stubborn in their unbelief? The many miracles that Jesus had done, which John called “signs”, had failed to convince them that He was their Messiah. No matter what He said or did, they remained unmoved. Like their ancestors, they resisted God’s love, rebelled against His covenant and rejected Him as their God, preferring their own ways despite the disasters it had brought on them, to the ways of God which would have brought them peace.
John realized that the prophet Isaiah had spoken of this phenomenon which was evident in the history of his people from the time that they were delivered from slavery in Egypt right up to his day. It was not God who had forced them to choose the way of disobedience. It was their choice, time after time, which led them down the path of war, destruction and exile.
How significant that John identified the Lord, whom Isaiah had seen in a vision while he was in the temple grieving the death of the king Uzziah, as Jesus, the second person of the Trinity! Throughout the Old Testament, it was the pre-incarnate Jesus, sometimes identified as “the angel of the Lord” and sometimes as God Himself, who had direct dealings with His people. Even the patriarch Abraham had glimpsed the Messiah by faith and rejoiced; and Moses had met Him at the burning bush and was introduced to Him as the “I AM”.
“Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” “You are not fifty years old,” they said to Him, “and you have seen Abraham!” “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I AM!” John 8:57, 58 NIV.
The same Jesus whom their forebears had rejected then was the one they rejected now although He had come in person to reveal the true nature of the Father. These people were in the same boat as Pharaoh who had been given every opportunity to acknowledge the Hebrews’ God and submit to Him but persisted in disobeying until God hardened his heart,. Their hardness of heart was the consequence of their own choice. God was simply confirming in their hearts what they wanted.
This is a sobering fact. God gave and honours every person’s right to choose. Even if we choose to believe lies and follow the way of death, He will continue to confront us with the truth but He will not force us to choose against our will. We choose our own path and our own destiny even if it is to walk away from God and be separated from Him forever.
It grieves His heart to see people going to their own doom because He has created us for better things but He will not violate the most priceless but risky gift He gave to mankind. It is up to us to heed His word, believe the truth and submit to His love — but if we don’t, He will confirm our choice so that it will be impossible in the end to change our minds….
….and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.