Keeping Our Foundation Strong: John 12:37-50

Focus Passage: John 12:37-50 (GNT)

37 Even though he had performed all these miracles in their presence, they did not believe in him, 38 so that what the prophet Isaiah had said might come true:

“Lord, who believed the message we told?
    To whom did the Lord reveal his power?”

39 And so they were not able to believe, because Isaiah also said,

40 “God has blinded their eyes
    and closed their minds,
so that their eyes would not see,
    and their minds would not understand,
    and they would not turn to me, says God,
    for me to heal them.”

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Even then, many Jewish authorities believed in Jesus; but because of the Pharisees they did not talk about it openly, so as not to be expelled from the synagogue. 43 They loved human approval rather than the approval of God.

44 Jesus said in a loud voice, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in him who sent me. 45 Whoever sees me sees also him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. 47 If people hear my message and do not obey it, I will not judge them. I came, not to judge the world, but to save it. 48 Those who reject me and do not accept my message have one who will judge them. The words I have spoken will be their judge on the last day! 49 This is true, because I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has commanded me what I must say and speak. 50 And I know that his command brings eternal life. What I say, then, is what the Father has told me to say.”

Read John 12:37-50 in context and/or in other translations on!

Have you ever wanted to do something, but were scared of the consequences or reaction of others?

If so, you have something in common with a group of people in this post’s passage. In verse 42 and 43 we read: “Even then, many Jewish authorities believed in Jesus; but because of the Pharisees they did not talk about it openly, so as not to be expelled from the synagogue. They loved human approval rather than the approval of God.”

What this says about human nature is important. At every moment, we all are prioritizing people and ideas in our minds. At each point of our day, we are choosing to focus on something/someone/some idea and not on others. These Jewish authorities believed in Jesus, but their belief was second to receiving human praise. Their focus on praise was more important than their focus on Jesus.

Immediately following John’s description of this group of authorities, Jesus addresses a category of people in his next paragraph – however, this category at first sounds different. Jesus speaks a challenge towards those who hear His words, but choose to not obey them.

Is a private, personal belief in Jesus important? Yes!

Is a private, personal belief in Jesus the goal – the end place where God wants to take you and I? Nope.

Jesus knows that belief and faith are best lived out from a strong, private + personal foundation, but in a way that is visible to others. Obedience becomes meaningless when it is subjective to the popular opinion of the culture/crowd or when it is so hidden that our lives look identical to those without it.

Human nature pulls us towards conforming to a crowd. It might be a crowd of people who believe they are mainstream, or a crowd of people who think they are being different and challenging the system. It could be a crowd in a church, or a crowd of a large denomination, or a crowd that make up a major worldview. The crowd could be 10 people or 10 million.

But human nature is deceitful in this conformity. Even if we are caught up in a crowd that is leading us along a positive path – a path of making great decisions and growing closer to Jesus – the temptation is to ignore the personal foundation which the crowd cannot help us with. The personal foundation is where we remain personally connected to Jesus, and while it is the part of our relationship that matters the most, it is still just one part.

The Jewish authorities who believed reflect those of us who may at times feel that we better keep our beliefs hidden, for fear of what others may think. It is belief that is looking for the safe road forward, and for the greatest number of people to like us, but in the end, this safe road erodes our personal foundation as we lose ourselves in the crowd we have chosen.

At every moment, we are prioritizing people and ideas in our minds. The tendency is to model the people/ideas we prioritize and give our focus to. It is then up to us to prioritize Jesus – and visible obedience to Him – that keeps the foundation of our lives strong and secure.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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