Unveiling the struggle of belief in miracles and prophecies. Understanding faith beyond sight and the role of the heart in belief.
John 12:37-41 — Are You Hard Hearted? — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel. Today we will reflect on John 12:37-41. Listen.
Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 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?”
For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
“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.”
Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.
In this passage, John reflects on the reaction of the people to Jesus' miracles. Despite witnessing numerous signs and wonders, many still did not believe in him.
The question is, why? This is not just about the Jews of Jesus’ time who did not believe; it’s about people today as well. Even with evidence in front of us, why do we find it hard to believe? It's because we find it difficult to believe in things we cannot fully understand or control. It's a human tendency to doubt what doesn't fit into our logic or experience.
There was a story I once heard about an atheist who said that he would only believe if God wrote that he was real in the sky. No sooner had he uttered these words than a skywriter wrote the words of John 3:16 in the sky. A skywriter, for those unfamiliar, is a pilot who flies a small aircraft and creates messages or drawings visible from the ground. Do you think the words in the sky made the man believe? He didn’t, dismissing it as a coincidence.
John quotes Isaiah to show that the people’s disbelief in Jesus was not unexpected. Prophecy isn't just about predicting the future; it's about understanding God's plan. Isaiah's words remind us that God's ways are not our ways. He foresaw the struggles people would have in recognizing Jesus as the Messiah.
So, what does it take to believe? A key point in this passage is the condition of the heart. Isaiah speaks of people who couldn't believe because their hearts were hardened. This isn't just about the intellect; it's about a heart open to God. A hardened heart is closed off to the possibilities of God's work. Our challenge is to keep our hearts soft and receptive to God's truth, even when it's difficult to understand.
The irony in this passage is that many saw the miracles of Jesus yet did not believe. It shows that seeing is not always believing. True belief comes from a deeper place – a combination of sight, faith, and an open heart. Sometimes, the most profound truths are not seen with the eyes but felt with the heart.
As we reflect on this passage, let's ask ourselves: Are we open to seeing and believing in the works of Jesus in our lives? Do we have the courage to trust in God's plan, even when it defies our understanding? Let's strive to keep our hearts soft and open to the truth that God reveals to us, remembering that belief is not just about what we see, but what we feel and know in our hearts.
God bless you.