Who Has Believed Our Report? - by Jeff Byerley
John 12:37-50 - Who Has Believed Our Report?
We observed that this chapter depicts Jesus last public speaking encounter. John seems to be capturing Jesus' words, not just in regard to the crowd immediately before him, but of all his ministry encounters with the Jewish nation. Generally they had rejected his words, signs, teaching and himself as the Messiah.
John 12:37-41 - Who Has Believed Our Report?
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.
Observations and Controversies
We are always delighted to find scripture interpreting scripture.. So it is here, in this quoting of Isaiah 53:1 and 6:10. These words are also quoted in Matt.13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10 and Acts 28:26-27. However, we know in some quarters it has caused controversy because it seems to imply that the Jews unfairly had no choice in the matter. How can God therefore be a righteous and just God? We observed four things here.
10 V.39 “could not believe”. Matthew Henry and others write that this should be read with the understanding that they had so wilfully persisted in a life of evil that it was their chosen way of life which made it impossible for them to believe.
20 The introductory verses show that their hearts were not receptive from the beginning. In verse 34 the people retort in disbelief “Who is this Son of Man?” Such was the case also of Pharaoh. who in Exodus 5:2 replies to Moses “Who is Jehovah that I should hear his voice?”
30 Because of their disbelief, God even uses this as a means to show his glory. Having disbelieved Moses, God caused the hardening of the Pharaoh's heart, so that God's glory would be seen in His mighty saving works, (Exodus 7:3). Likewise in chapters 9-11 of Romans Paul explains that God's glory is seen in that the Gospel has come to the Gentiles rather than the Jews, who for a time have rejected it. Yet the decision to reject God was fully Pharaoh's and the Jews, for which they are fully accountable.
40 Finally, who are we to judge God's actions? All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23). As Paul says of God in Romans 9:15, “ I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy.” A clay pot does not say to the potter, “Why did you make me this way?”(Rom. 9:20).
12:42-43 – The Necessity of A Confessing Faith
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.
It is clear that some were inclined to believe but when tested their faith fell short. They were not prepared to confess their faith because they preferred the praises of people rather than God. They loved their life in this world more than they did God. But people will not raise us to life on Judgment Day, only Jesus.
12:44-45 – God from God
44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me.
We certainly see Jesus' claim here to be divine. Yet the anguish in which he cries this out, is to impress by any means the seriousness of the matter that the disbelieving crowds so engage themselves. Do they not understand, Jesus is God from God with God's very own words to save them?
12:46-50 – Walk in the Light
46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”
Jesus' words on light add to what he has said earlier (12:35-36). He equates his light with his words (v.47) that have been preserved in the Bible and are therefore relevant and available to all, who will receive and accept them. Jesus did not come into the world to judge it but to save (v.47). However, it is the very act of either accepting or rejecting his words, that people will ultimately be judged (v.48). So, in a real sense, people will judge themselves. Jesus again emphasizes the seriousness of the matter by pointing out that “ His command is everlasting life” (v.50). To disobey therefore is to receive eternal death. It is rather like Moses warning in Deut. 30:15. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil”.