The Price of Unbelief
John 12:37-50 ESV

John 12:37-50 (ESV)
Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 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?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “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.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 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; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 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. 48 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. 49 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. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

The key phrase in this passage is believe; it is used 8x

First John explains the unbelief of the people.

  1. They would not believe

John 12:37-38 (ESV)
Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 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?”

Isaiah 53:1-5 (ESV)
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

  1. They could not believe

John 12:39-41 (ESV)
Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “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.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

Isaiah 6:8-10 (ESV)
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

In spite of all the signs that were given to them they remained in unbelief.

What about us today?

Romans 1:18-25 (ESV)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

The “arm of the Lord” had been revealed in great power, yet they closed their eyes to the Truth.

They had heard the message and seen the miracles (signs) and still would not believe.

When someone resists the Truth (the Light) the Lord permits blindness to come over their hearts.

Matthew 13:14-15 (ESV)
Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “ ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10

Acts 28:25 (ESV)
And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet: 

Romans 11:8 (ESV)
as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.”

It is a serious thing to treat God’s Truth lightly.

Isaiah 55:6 (ESV)
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near

There were those who would not believe, and then there were those who would not openly profess Christ even though they had believed.

John 12:42-43 (ESV)
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; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Maybe Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea…Acts 6:7

Matthew 10:32-33 (ESV)
So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Luke 9:26 (ESV)
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Mark 8:38 (ESV)
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Exodus 8:32 (ESV)
But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.

Romans 1:16 (ESV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)
….. if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

John 12:42-43 (ESV)
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; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

John 5:44 (ESV)
How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

John 12:44-50 (ESV)
And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 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. 48 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. 49 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. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

These are Jesus’ final words before He spends the last 24hrs, before His crucifixion, with His disciples.

It sounds familiar and seems to be a summary of His ministry. We hear:

A Focus on Faith

Jesus is the Light of the world

God sent His Son

When you have seen the Son you’ve seen the Father

His Words are the very words of God

Faith in Him brings salvation and

To reject Jesus is to face eternal judgement

In fact, the very Word that He has spoken will judge those who have rejected it and Him! Why? Because the Word points to the Word that became flesh……

The word judge appears 4x in Jesus closing statement. Jesus did not come to judge He came to save, but if people will not trust the Savior, the Savior’s Words become the Judge.

If you think about it the sinner is actually passing judgement on themselves not the Lord!

We have looked at Jesus public ministry over the last 10 months (12 ch.), we have seen Jesus passionate heart to ransom our lives. 

Have you come to realize that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God and the Savior of the world?

Do you know Him? Have you put you trust in Jesus and received eternal life? Have you publicly confessed Him as Lord?

John 12:36 (ESV)
While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.