Chapter 12:37-50 (ESV) - When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
“He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
Question to consider: What did John mean by “the glory that comes from man”?
John summarized the hardness of the human heart with one statement, “they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” Ever since Adam rebelled against God in the garden, he and everyone who has descended from him has wanted to be like god and to receive accolades and honor from other people— except for Christ. He alone sought the glory of the Father and obeyed all of His commands.
Because of this, when people put their faith in Jesus, they were really putting their faith in the one who sent Him. There have been many throughout history who have proclaimed to speak for God, but we know they were lying because they died and stayed dead. Not only did Jesus perform miraculous signs to prove His claims, but He did not stay dead. In fact, the only reason He died was because He laid down His own life to pay for the sins of the world. Otherwise, He could have wiped out His enemies with a word to the legions of angels who are at His command.
If someone tries to tell you that God wants you to receive all of the comforts of this world and live your best life now, they are demonstrating a love for the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. If someone tries to tell you that there is a way you can preach Christ without making enemies, they are teaching you a different theology than that which resulted in the persecution and death of many in the early church.
Our theology makes an enemy of those who belong to this world and the darkness that has invaded it. It is not a theology of the glory of man but of the cross of Christ. This is a hard sell in a world that believes that personal happiness is the end goal of life. It is hard to ask people to set aside their own desires for the promise of eternal life in Christ, but it all comes down to whether John is telling us the truth about what Jesus said and did.
I suppose he could have lied about everything, but why would he? If Jesus never proclaimed to be sent from the Father, if He never did the signs described by John, and if He never rose from the dead, why would John have dedicated the rest of his life to proclaiming the truth of these things? He had a simple life as a fisherman. He could have easily renounced Jesus as a false Messiah and gone back to his boat, worshiped in the synagogue, got married and had children and lived out his days in Capernaum.
Instead, he never married, became an enemy of his fellow Jews and the Roman empire, and was exiled to a prison island where he had to rely on others to sustain him. His brother and all of his friends were brutally murdered as they held to the same claims of Christ rising from the dead and the hope of our own resurrection in Him.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us these words from Christ through Your apostle, John. Please continue to open our eyes and soften our hearts so that we may turn to Christ and be healed. Amen.