14.02.01 Jn. 12:37-43
NON-BELIEVERS FULFILL PROPHECY
37 Even though He had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in Him. 38 But this was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet, who said:
Lord, who has believed our message?
And who has the arm of the Lord
been revealed to? (Isa. 53:1)
39 This is why they were unable to believe, because Isaiah also said:
40 He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so that they would not see with their eyes
or understand with their hearts,
and be converted,
and I would heal them (Isa 6:10).
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw His glory and spoke about Him.
42 Nevertheless, many did believe in Him even among the rulers, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, so they would not be banned from the synagogue.
43 For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts.” It seems horrible and grossly unjust that God would prevent anyone from coming to Him. Furthermore, it appears to be a contradiction of character that God would send His Son to save humanity and then cause unbelief in their hearts. How can this be explained? Throughout both Testaments there are numerous individuals who refused to obey God or believe in the words and works of Jesus. The explanation is that while God pursues mankind, He also gives people free will to do as they please. Eventually He decides that “enough is enough,” and He gives them what they want. In doing so, He hardens their hearts so they cannot hear His voice and they continue to pursue their desires as they had previously determined to do.
It is often said that God is in control of all things, but it is better said that He permits many things and events to happen. To say that God is in control suggests that He approves of all events that occur. That clearly is not true. Yet while some men pursue evil, there comes a time when God intervenes to curb their actions or answers the prayers of His saints.
In this narrative, the religious leaders refused to believe Jesus even after they witnessed many profound miracles and heard Him teach. Therefore, God granted to them their heart’s desire: He closed their understanding to the truth so they could not believe. They had committed the unpardonable sin of rejecting God once too often. At one time they had a choice; now they had only His condemnation. But in reality, they condemned themselves because decisions determine destiny.
. See Mt. 13:14-15; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:10; Rom. 11:8; 2 Cor. 3:14; and Acts 28:27.