By Christin Ditchfield Lazo
A Reading from the Gospel of John 12:36b-43
36b After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. 37 Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Lord, who has believed our message,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
so that they might not look with their eyes
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him. 42 Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue, 43 for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.
Today’s gospel reading ends with one of the saddest observations in all of Scripture. Many people — influential people, community leaders and local authorities — believed in Jesus. They could have become his disciples. They had the opportunity to be on intimate terms with God in the flesh — to know his love, his mercy and grace, to walk in his wisdom, his power, his strength.
But they didn’t want to risk their reputations. They were afraid coming out as Christ-followers might cost them their social standing. As a contemporary paraphrase puts it, “When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory” (John 12:43, MSG). Or “they loved to please men more than they desired to glorify God” (VOICE).
It’s kind of staggering, isn’t it?
Not that we can talk. We often find ourselves making the same grevious mistake today.
Why do we care so much what other people think about us? What is their opinion or approval really worth? And what precious things are we willing to lose — to give up — to miss out on — just to try to hang on to it?
What did they ever do for us?
Jesus calls us, not just to believe in him, but to follow him. To walk with him and talk with him. To learn from him. To live in him.
And when we do, he says he lives in us.
Paul says, “The life I live … I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
“He gave himself” — gave everything — for you and for me. That should mean so much more to us than anything.
Christin Ditchfield Lazo, M.A. (Bible and Theology), is a best-selling author, conference speaker, and syndicated radio host, passionate about calling believers to a deeper life of faith.
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Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Morobo – The Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan
The Diocese of Northern Indiana