Shelby G. Floyd
During the ministry of Christ, multitudes of people heard him preach the wonderful words of God. A few believed, but most of them believed not. Concerning those people who heard him and believed not, John, the apostle, made the following observations:
“But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him” (John 12: 37-41 NKJV).
We observe first, that in spite of the many miracles which Jesus performed openly before the people, yet they kept on not believing on him. That is, they rejected the miracles which confirmed his word and his identity as the divine son of God. The apostle John only records seven miracles performed by Christ, but these seven were typical of all the miracles which he did perform, which were many, great and varied. Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the lepers, gave sight to the blind, and in many other types of healing miracles gave evidence that God was with him.
The purpose for miracles being performed by Jesus and others was twofold: (1) to confirm the word of God as being inspired and authoritative, and (2) to cause men to believe in God’s word by producing sufficient evidence that the word was from God. In fact, the key passage in the gospel, according to John, is found near the end of the book:
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20: 30-31).
We observe that the purpose of the miracles which are written in the Bible is to cause faith or belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, in order that we might have eternal life in his name. In like manner, the miracles which were performed by Christ and his apostles to the people living during that time had the same purpose, that is, to confirm the word and to cause men to believe, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following” (Mark 16: 19-20).
Now to those who were sincere and of honest heart, these miracles accomplished exactly what they were designed to accomplish. They accomplished faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. For instance, Jesus performed his first miracle at a marriage feast in Cana of Galilee (John 2: 11). Sometime later those who had seen this miracle were in Jerusalem during the Passover, and John says, “…many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did” (John 2:23). In like manner, if we are sincere and have open and honest hearts, the miracles which are written in the Bible will also produce faith in our hearts that Jesus is the Christ the son of God.
But returning back to our text in John 12:37, the Bible says that they did not believe in him even though he had done so many miracles before them. Jesus performed his miracles openly before the people. They were not something done in a corner or hidden from popular view. Yet, in spite of all these miracles, there were certain people who kept on not believing on him. The present tense of the verb “believed not” indicates that it was a settled and stubborn refusal to accept his message. And yet, the rejection of Christ and his message were a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah who said, “Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed” (John 12:38)? This is a quotation from Isaiah 53:1. A report is a message, and here it refers to the message of the Old Testament prophets which pointed to Jesus Christ as the divine son of God. Therefore, Isaiah asked the question, “Lord, who hath believed our report, or our message?” The answer implied that not very many would believe that report. Then he also asked, “And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?” The arm of the Lord stands for the power of the Lord, and so in essence Isaiah is simply asking, “Lord, who will believe our message, even when it is confirmed by the arm of the Lord through miracles, signs and wonders?”
The Jews who had heard Christ, rejected him, and therefore they rejected the report of Isaiah and other inspired prophets which pointed to Christ. And they also did this in plain view of the fact that God had extended his arm through the miracles performed by Jesus Christ.
Several years later, Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, found that the gospel report which he preached was also being rejected by the Jewish population. He applied the same prophecy of Isaiah to the people of his day (Romans 10:16-17). The reason they had not all obeyed the gospel was because their hearts were hardened, they were prejudiced, and they had rejected the word of the Lord.
Copyright © 2019 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142