Blind eyes and hardened hearts

John 12.37-50

We are midway through John’s gospel and already the account is deep into Jesus’ last week prior to his execution. John takes a step back and observes with incredulity, ‘Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.’ John 12.37 How can that be? He then goes on to record how Isaiah foresaw this some 700 years previously. Isaiah 53.1 and 6.1-4 It was because of spiritually blind eyes and hardened hearts. Isaiah spoke as a man who had a very clear and transforming vision of the Lord. ‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne, and the train of his robe filled the temple.’ Isaiah 6.1 For Isaiah, John and Paul the spiritual blindness and hardness of heart was a matter of great sadness and grieving and their desire and prayer was that people would see and understand who Jesus is.

Paul identified the same situation to the Corinthian church as John witnessed in Jerusalem. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.’ 2 Corinthians 4.3-4 Paul’s reaction was to, ‘proclaim not ourselves, but Jesus as Lord with ourselves as servants for Jesus sake.’ 2 Corinthians 4.5 Paul saw that as how light shines out of darkness and brings knowledge of the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4.6

It is easy at times to think that we are alone in our understanding of Christ and become downcast. However, this has never been the case. We need to take heart and be encouraged by one another. At the same time pray earnestly that God will open the eyes and soften the hearts of those who cannot see whilst we the church lovingly and openly continue to present the good news of Jesus. As Paul said, ‘God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.’ 2 Corinthians 4.6

Mingled in the crowd were leaders of the Jews who secretly believed in Jesus. They were afraid to speak up because they feared the rest of the leadership more than they feared God. John 12.42-43 Knowing this, what was Jesus’ response? He cried out, raising his voice, it was as if he was calling them to open their blind eyes and see. He declared that if they saw him then they were seeing the one who sent him, God the Father. He was saying come out of your darkness and into the light, you don’t belong there. ‘The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.’ John 12.45-46

Who do you know with blind eyes and a hardened heart?

Who could you pray for and who could you share the good news of Jesus with?

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