…These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?” For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM.” These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him. Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
– John 12:36-43 (all caps are quotations from Old Testament)
Today’s passage picks up where yesterday’s left off.
As we’ve seen over and over, Jesus was a polarizing figure in the first century, just as His name still polarizes today. People either run to the light that He is…or they run away from it. You run to the light if you want freedom from sin; you stay away from the light if you want to keep doing things that are not right in His sight.
Isaiah’s experience is illustrative. When God is behind you, no one who is for Him will oppose you. No one could be for God but against Jesus; God wasn’t going to allow it.
The last sentence in this passage explains so much. Ostracism is a powerful force. No one wants to be shunned. You see this force applied or threatened constantly in social media. The most dreaded epithet in American society today is “racist,” and people will jump through hoops to avoid it. What we’re seeing in this passage was that some people were jumping through hoops to keep their faith in Jesus from becoming public lest they be ostracized.
Every disciple of Jesus Christ must pass this test: Which do you love more – the approval of people or the approval of Jesus Christ? The option of pursuing both is not available in this life.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, I set my heart on receiving Your approval today…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)