Daily Devotion: John 12:37-50!
Today's reading is John 12:37-50!
This passage, a teaching and response by Jesus to those around Him (some who believed and some who rejected), is one that can be tough to swallow. On the surface, we see John (and Jesus) essentially saying that the Pharisees who did not believe did not do so because "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts." How, as believers who believe that God is just and interested in the salvation of all, do we reconcile that it seems like there are people with whom God hardens their hearts? This is not something that just happens in the NT account of Jesus' ministry. God also hardens Pharaoh's heart in the book of Exodus as the drama of the Exodus events take place. Here, Isaiah prophesies that some will reject the Messiah because their hearts are hardened. Yet, Scripture tells us that God "desires that none would perish." So how do we understand this verse?
One of the most important things we can do when interpreting Scripture is to remember this principle: Scripture must always interpret itself. This simply means that when we have a tough passage of Scripture that we do not understand, we must always seek to interpret it in light of other passages that are much more clear. So, in the case of this verse we know a few things:
1). God is sovereign.
The Bible is clear that God is in control. There has been a grand plan of redemption in place since before the foundation of the world, and there is nothing that will get in the way of God enacting that grand plan through Jesus.
2). Man has responsibility to believe.
The Bible is also clear that men have a responsibility to respond to the call of the Gospel, and they are held accountable for whether or not they believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This is an integral part of the theology of salvation, and does not contradict the first point.
3). Man is depraved and deserving of eternal judgment.
At the end of the day, none of us deserve God's gracious offer of salvation. This means that God is just to condemn any person who has not been graciously saved. To do so does not make God unjust or evil.
With all of these in mind, we can then wrap our heads around this a little more. First, we must recognize that the Pharisees hard hearts were directly related to God's sovereign plan to get Jesus to the cross. In His grand plan, Jesus needed to be rejected in order to bring salvation to those who would believe. Furthermore, we know that these men who had hardened hearts WERE ALREADY LOST AND DESERVING OF CONDEMNATION. Therefore, God is still just even if He chooses to harden their hearts to provide salvation for those who would believe. Lastly, we can assume (this is not clear in any biblical text) that those who have their hearts hardened would not come to faith in Christ anyways, and therefore are then used by God to bring Him glory through being a part of His plan to get Jesus to the Cross. From Pharaoh to the Pharisees, these events needed to happen the way they did for God's plan to take place, and there is no room to believe that God's plan will not take place! So, these hearts were hearts that were already opposed to Jesus, and God uses them to bring good from those who are already deserving of condemnation! Ultimately, we must trust that God is good in all things, and that in His grand plan, those with hardened hearts work an integral part in God's glory!
In His Name, Pastor Dustin