John 12:37-50: Stubborn blindness.

“37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. 42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God. 44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. 47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. 49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” NIV

”Jesus is the window into God.” Michael Green.

John makes a remarkable statement about Isaiah (41), but it is even more a staggering assertion about Christ. It probably refers to the vision of God’s glory the prophet saw, recorded in chapter 6 of the book that bears his name. John says that in fact he ”saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” To see Jesus, is to see the Father (44, 45; 14:9).

I find it helpful, in looking at verses 37-41, to see that it first says ”they…would not believe in him” (37) before it says ”they could not believe” (39). There are ‘none so blind as those who will not see.’ You can’t see if you won’t see, and in the previous section Jesus had warned about making the most of ”the light” while they still had it (35, 36). There can come a time when our hearts are so hardened that we cannot repent, and ultimately all must face judgment (48). 

Yet again though, Jesus was not met with wall to wall spiritual blindness (42). There were ”many even among the leaders” who believed. However, it was a response without backbone. Something was lacking. As Bishop J.C. Ryle said, a soldier is not ashamed of his uniform.