“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence,
they still would not believe in Him.” (John 12:37)
Make allowance for spiritual blindness! There will definitely be times when you will spontaneously find yourself asking – “how could anyone fail to see God’s activity in what just happened?” Remember that when our Lord personally visited His chosen people, many of them where present when He healed the sick and twice fed the thousands. He fed them with only a few loaves of bread and fish yet in spite of these and countless other miracles some – “still would not believe in Him!” They heard His timeless words and witnessed His amazing deeds, but they still failed to understand His identity. Unfortunately, that same disconnect with spiritual reality still exists today.
Intellectually, Jesus’ vocabulary was uncomplicated. However, in spite of that, hearing Him physically speak by no means provided the assurance of truly understanding Him. This is why He often said, “if anyone has ears to hear, let them listen.” (Mark 4:9; 4:23; Matthew 11:15) In the same way, personally seeing His miracles – did not ensure one’s ability to comprehend their intended purpose. Those who received the Lord’s healing immediately rejoiced, but sadly some never understood the reason why they were healed.
Those who observed the Lord’s sinless lifestyle were not physically blind – however, many of them still wanted to experience God on their own terms, so nothing real took place in their hearts. For that reason, they offered no meaningful response to God’s Son even when he performed undeniable miracles in their presence! The Bible mentions this strange spiritual stupor and blindness as it was earlier described in Isaiah’s day. Think about God’s description, “[They] keep listening but they do not understand; looking but they do not perceive. Dull are the minds of these people.” (Isaiah 6:9)
Jesus explained, “The words that I speak unto you are spirit and they are life…” (John 6:63b) On a daily basis He spoke Aramaic and those who heard Him could easily grasp the contemporary meaning of His words. However, far more importantly, the Bible teaches that – He was simultaneously communicating in Spirit with all those who truly wanted to listen, understand, and act on what He said. He always perceived and addressed the spiritual condition of people’s hearts!
Remember that the Lord Jesus knew people’s secrets and unspoken thoughts (see Matthew 9:4; Mark 2:8). This was made possible for Him because as the Son of Man, He was “…filled with the Holy Spirit without measure.” (John 3:34) His teaching was therefore holy and profoundly different than all other prophets, priests, and rabbis. No one ever spoke like He did (see John 7:46). This is perhaps why He characteristically accompanied His parables with a spiritual challenge to truly listen. He uniquely possessed the ability to communicate on a spiritual level that has remained exactly the same for the last 21 centuries!
The Bible declares, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Understanding the purpose of the Lord Jesus’ mission and His teachings is closely linked with the depth of one’s spiritual hunger. He referred to this when He promised, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) In every generation, the Lord’s many would-be disciples had to first possess the desire for personal spiritual improvement. Only then could they grasp the meaning of His statements and miraculous acts.
To benefit from this Scriptural insight – dwell quietly on Matthew 5:6 for a moment. If spiritual hunger, combined with sincere faith produces actual comprehension, then where do you personally stand in terms of spiritual hunger? You can ask God for greater hunger now if you need it.
Now, let’s move ahead to another factor. Only we are impressed when God speaks eternal truth or preforms a miracle – He never is! What His angel explained to Mary still remains as true today as it did when she, as a young virgin, was overshadowed by God’s Spirit and conceived (see Isaiah 7:14). The angel declared, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37)
Don’t despair when those you love do not immediately respond to God’s love. Instead, patiently pray while trusting Him to convict, draw, and teach them. As you do this, you will see many start moving in His direction. Simply said, free will must mature over time and it cannot be rushed!
Remember that even in the very presence of our Lord’s totally convincing miracles, not everyone immediately responded. Perhaps the most astounding reality is that even after knowing and hearing from the multitudes whom Jesus fed and healed, there was still anyone in Israel – who did not believe (see Matthew 13:15)!
In summary, life itself was and remains God’s foremost miracle! The Lord spoke about this when He said, “as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.” (John 5:26) Without life, nothing that we currently experience would be possible. The very process that produces human life was designed and created by our loving heavenly Father, so we are not left in ignorance about Him or His greatest miracle – which is us.
The Bible says, “…Blessed are those who have not seen Me but still have believed.” (John 20:29)
By Billie Hanks Jr.