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.
Understanding And Applying the Text
Jesus had performed many signs. These signs showed He was the Messiah. Jesus did not sneak around hiding who He was. He did not choose to reveal the truth only to a select few. His signs were in full view of the everyone. Yet they did not believe. Why?
Faith is not common. Faith is uncommon. Faith does not come from within us. It is not something we generate. When someone says you need to have more faith. Usually what they mean is; you need to believe without a good reason. That is not faith. That is credulity. God gives us faith. If you desire more faith don’t look inside yourself. Pray that God will grant you more faith. If you want more faith study the scriptures. Faith comes from hearing. And hearing comes through the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
John says that they did not believe so Isaiah’s prophesy would be fulfilled. You need to be careful and not confuse cause and effect. God revealed through Isaiah that they would not believe. God did not cause unbelief. Unbelief is man’s natural condition. That is why John says, “Therefore they could not believe.” No one believes unless God opens their heart. No one believes until God performs a supernatural work within them. No one believes until God grants them the faith to believe. That is why they could not believe.
Our reaction to Isaiah is, “That is not fair! How could God be a just God and prevent someone from believing? The scripture even says He closes their eyes. How can God be just and involved in preventing someone from believing?”
The answer is simple. But it is but difficult to accept. If you asked 100 people on the street if man is basically good or evil. I am willing to bet 99 out of 100 would say man is basically good. If you ask the general churchgoer, I doubt the response would be must different. Even if we do not think man is basically good, we tend to think he is morally neutral. At the very least the overwhelming number of people believe man has the ability to choose good or evil. And until a person chooses he is morally neutral. In other words, it is our actions that determine our morality. That starting assumption is wrong!
Man is not morally good. Man is not even morally neutral. Man is morally evil. The desires of our heart are evil. (Romans 3:10-18, 7:18, Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:18; Mark 7:21)
When God prevents us from understanding the truth that is a judgment for our sin. It is not the cause of our sin. Why then does God allow some to believe? He gives the gift of faith to show His mercy. He gives justice to some and mercy to others. No one receives injustice. God is both just and merciful.
The antagonism against Christ had risen to such a fever pitch amongst the Jewish leaders. You would have thought it was universal. Even so, there were rulers who believed in Him. When John says, “They loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” He means they wanted men to think well of them. They cherished this world. They wanted the immediate and physical positive re-enforcement from men. They thought that more desirous than the glory that comes from God.
Faith goes beyond understanding. Faith goes beyond believing. Many of the rules believed but did not accept Jesus as Lord. God granted them the power to believe. Yet they proved their sinfulness by not accepting the Christ.
Without the grace of God, we too reject Christ. All the Father gives to Christ will come to Him. And Christ will receive all who come to Him. (John 6:37) But we cannot come unless the Father grant us the ability to come. (John 6:44) . When God leads us to Him we become His children. (Romans 8:14).
Praise God and to Him alone belongs the glory. Our salvation belongs to God alone.