Thursday, March 17, 2016
Devotion for Thursday after the Fifth Sunday in Lent - Blinded by Choice - 17 March 2016, Anno Domini
34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? 35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. 37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. 42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:34-43)
Believing faith is a precedent for salvation. Those whom God has called and chosen will bear that faith in their hearts and respond to the cordial beckoning of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Spirit draws the chosen of God as a net draws the fish of the sea. The fish may resist for a time, but eventually end up in the fisherman's boat.
John has an immeasurable love in his heart for our Lord. His writings all stress the love and divinity of our Lord more than the other three Gospels which stress love, but more prominently other aspects are accented. It seems to me that John is deeply affected by the rejection of his own people to hear and believe the Lord. His love diminished his fear of the Romans and Jewish rulers to the extent that he, and the women disciples, were the only ones to stand beneath the cross at the crucifixion. That is what love does - it banishes fear - because it is stronger than any other force this world can confront.
The first four verses were touched on in the previous devotion for the sake of continuity of the narrative; however, we will also address these verses again in today's devotion.
The Greeks and Jews say, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? First of all, we see that they studied Scripture, but unfortunately had no idea of its truth. Can you see in this inquiry that their only focus on a Messiah has nothing to do with the Kingdom of Heaven - it is all about the here and now. They seek a Messiah to come and rule over them in this earth. Though they have sacrificed millions of lambs in remission of their sins, they feel no need for a Redeemer to come and die in their stead. If Jesus does not do so, they have no further hope of redemption since the blood of oxen and lambs will avail no remission of sin. The animal sacrifices served as a temporary cleansing for the carnality of Israel in the Old Testament Church. But what of the sin debt that must be paid in full according to the Justice of God without which we will all be damned.
These people cannot conceive the true nature of God because they have turned their backs on learning of Him as did David: 1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. 3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. 4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. 5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: 6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. (Psalm 63:1-6)
Jesus offers in love and mercy a final Word to them to lighten their dark hearts, but His time is at hand and He realizes that these men will remain as lost when He is offered up as before He came as a baby into the world. 35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. In His short moments left on this side of Calvary, this is the only sound counsel He can offer - LIGHT! But they prefer darkness. So, These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. Today, our Lord is the Hidden Manna which goes unnoticed by the greater world without. He is hidden to the world because the world prefers it that way.
37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Please observe the personal disheartenment of the beloved John at the failure of the Jews to believe. Do we not all have the same questions? Our Lord had fed thousands with crumbs of bread; He had healed countless lepers and was the only man that would dare touch their filthy bodies in laying hands on them; He restored vision to the blind; He made the lame to walk; He cast out demons; He healed untold numbers of deadly disease; and He raised the dead to life again - He still does!
John finds it difficult to accept that these could not believe after seeing Lazarus raised just days earlier and many other miracles, for only God can work miracles as opposed to the deceptions of Satan. But John has studied his Bible and the Old Testament prophets and finds the answer therein. In speaking of the God of Abraham, we read in Hebrews 7:38-39: This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, (Acts 7:38-39) You see that Christ hides Himself from those who first reject Him.
Many good Christians today, incorrectly, believe that the Jews were arbitrarily chosen as God's favored people simply because of race. This is far from the truth. Only those who believed the promise given to Abraham of a Messiah (the Lord Jesus Christ) were His people. The others who did not believe were outcast of true Israel. Jesus comes to seal this truth in pointing not only to the believing Jews, but also the believing Gentiles. It was so from the day of Abraham until our own day. That Old Testament Church was comprised of Christians!
Do you believe that the heart of Pharaoh was hardened before he had already filled it with evil and wicked thoughts? No! God does not force anyone to sin, nor does He tempt any. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:13-14) When man closes the door of his heart to Christ, Christ will depart and be hidden to the man. 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. They could not believe because it was not in their nature to believe. When we turn and chose deception over the ordered Law of God, He will double or triple that deception. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess 2:10-12) This delusion has invaded most of our mainline churches today so that they promote lies and reject the Word of God in their preaching.
41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. 42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:" Please consider the import of these last words of the text. Some believed on Christ among the Jews, but they were reluctant to confess the Son of God because of what? Because they preferred their synagogue membership to that of a reward in Heaven!
Why do Roman, and Roman-loving, clergy of our own day reject the truth and prefer the lie? 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. If only Christians would compromise here and there with the world, the world would be pleased to tolerate them; but a strict following of the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ keeps getting in the way of the world. Just the mention of the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ condemns the world, so the world hates His Name. It is for this reason that the pagan Pope of Rome is willing to claim that all religions lead to God. He also makes the blasphemous charge that Christians and Muslims worship the same God! Really? I have seen no evidence of mercy or grace in the religion of Islam but rather only unrestrained cruelty. I have not discovered in the Quran that Allah has a Son, or a Holy Spirit. If Allah is not characterized by Mercy, Grace, a Holy Ghost, and an only Begotten Son, he is not the same God I worship who allows me the privilege to call Him Abba - Father. Others also who claim powers of mysterious tongues and miraculous powers are equally trying to lift their own persons above the Word of God. Many ministers preach to draw the praise of men and not the approbation of God. They have made themselves little idols to the people. What to do? What counsel does God offer on the matter? 14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you (2 Cor 6:14-17)