There will be many times when something is blindingly obvious to ourselves and it is baffling why it isn’t to everybody else. I guess as the drama that is the USA presidential election plays out that scenario will be taking place in millions of households. It is understandable when one is faced by a mathematical concept where one needs the previous building blocks to understand. It is also understandable that if two people have vastly different cultural backgrounds they may consider certain behaviours very differently. However, one might argue that if the Son of God had just stood before you and conducted a remarkable miracle, such as raising from the dead, a man who was clearly dead and had been so for some days, then everybody who personally witnessed it would surely believe in him. Those who witnessed the miracle came from the same culture, they knew and believed in the same ancient prophesies, they personally knew the people concerned and they had a common experience. However, there were two polar opposite reactions.
‘Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.’ The implication is that those who went to the Pharisees did not go because they were excited and wanted to share the news of this fantastic event. No, they were opposed to Jesus and sided with the Pharisees in rejecting Jesus and his teaching. They knew the Pharisees were already looking for him with the intention of having Jesus killed. Joh 11.8
The Pharisees and the majority of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish religious ruling body) were spiritually blind to who Jesus was, his mission, and how he was fulfilling the prophesies in their scriptures. Their concerns were fundamentally political. They feared that as Jesus gained popularity and very many believed in him and followed him the Romans would perceive that as rebellion against the empire. That would lead to the destruction of the temple and a hard military clamp down on the Jewish people. If they had listened with understanding to Jesus he never preached a kingdom that had a political message. The Kingdom of God that he taught was not a nation state or a military empire. He put himself forward as something completely different, as the lamb of God who was to die for all who would believe.
For people to believe in Jesus they not only have to see the evidence physically and or rationally they need to perceive it spiritually. Naturally people belong to darkness and to the power of this world. Each one of us needs a spiritual awakening from God. As the Lord himself said to Paul as he commissioned him on the Damascus Road, ‘I am sending you to them (the Gentiles) to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:18 Despite himself Caiaphas as high priest was inspired by God to prophesy that Jesus was to die for the Jews and also for the scattered children of God throughout the world. He meant it politically, God meant it spiritually. Caiaphas was now to be a major player in God working out his purposes without any understanding of what he was really doing. God uses opposition as well as faithful disciples to carry out his purposes. This however does not remove personal responsibility for the things we do.
In what ways do we join in with Paul’s commission to share the gospel and pray that people will open their eyes and turn from darkness to light?
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