“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him” John 12:27
During His three-year ministry on this earth, Jesus had performed so many miracles, signs and wonders as witnessed sometimes by a few and other times thousands, yet the people wouldn’t, or couldn’t, believe in Him as the Messiah – the Son of God.
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John there are over 30 miracles documented. Yet, despite the eye-witness evidence of the lame raised up able to walk, the eyes of the blind opened to see, the lepers healed, the 5000 fed from 5 loaves and 2 fish, the dead raised to life, demons cast out at the mere sight of Him, enabling the mute to speak, turning water into wine, healing at the simple touch of His robe, life-long paralytics restored to complete health, house servants healed by only the words of His mouth, raging storms on the sea clamed by His command, and walking on water just to name a few, and let’s not forget His resurrection from the dead as witnessed by hundreds. Yet, despite all of the evidence, so many people in Jesus’ time would not believe either during His earthly ministry or after His resurrection.
Perhaps some had only heard about the miracles and did not witness them personally. With a skeptical mind, they could not, or would not, believe in what they didn’t see first hand. Perhaps they thought someone was exaggerating the event.Perhaps they were there and did witness first hand the miracles. However their jaded minds were positive that it was sorcery or trickery and they would not be named a fool. After all, a man from Nazareth cannot possibly be the Messiah.
And then there are those who witnessed and believed but wouldn’t confess their belief for fear they would be put out of the synagogue (their livelihood). If that were to happen, they would loose the praise, prestige and approval of their peers. They chose to risk loosing Gods eternal approval to maintain the fickle and short-lived approval of men. So what happened then? According to John 12:40, their stubbornness caused God to permanently hardened their hearts. He confirmed their choice. After a lifetime of resisting God, they had become so set in their ways they refused to try to understand Jesus’ message.
The purpose of Jesus’ first mission on earth was not to judge people, but to show them the way to find salvation and eternal life. When He comes again, one of His main purposes will be to judge people for how they lived on earth.
When He comes again, it will be to judge each and every one of us for how we lived on earth. He will separate the goats from the sheep – Matthew 25:31-34 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. Before Him all the nations will be gathered, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ’come, you are blessed by My Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’” Matthew 25:41“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘depart from Me, you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
To those found faithful, eternal life with Him is their reward. To those with hardened hearts, eternal damnation is theirs.
This truth (eternal life or eternal damnation) is not just for those who were alive during Christ’s time on earth. The Word of Christ, the truths He proclaimed, Christ’s words that we choose to accept and obey or not will either condemn us or save us. On the Day of Judgment, those who accepted Jesus and lived His way will be raised to eternal life (1 Corinthians 11:51-57, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, Revelations 21:1-8), and to those who choose to reject the truth of Jesus and live any way they please apart from Jesus eternal punishment awaits their eternity. (Revelations 20:11-15).
People today are not so different from the people during Jesus’ time. There are those who will never put their faith in Jesus. They cannot see how anyone could ever believe in a “fable”… a “nice story”. They believe only in themselves and what they can do for themselves. They have become their own god. In my own family, I have heard Christians called phony and delusional. There is no such thing as a God – god’s and goddess’ maybe – but never God. And then there are those who believe that they are “too far gone”, “beyond help”, “unforgivable” — this list goes on. Another group of family and friends… well they are enjoying life too much with their drugs (both semi-legal and illegal) and alcohol and partying to even begin to think about their eternity. To think about what is really going on in their hearts is so easily drowned with just another shot. And what about that group that would rather “die” than have friends discover out that they are “holy rollers”. People today aren’t so different from 2000 years ago.
A couple days ago, I happened to roll by a horrific car accident. I knew that it was a fatal accident, as they don’t typically put a tarp over the car involved if it isn’t. It wasn’t until a couple hours later that I found out from a neighbor who the victim was. I didn’t know the woman. Our paths had never crossed. Yet my neighbor attended Church with her. She spoke about this woman’s life and her witness about Christ. She was a wonderful wife, mother and grand-mother. But most of all, she was a blessed daughter of the King.
The thoughts of the accident have stayed with me. As my husband left for work, I started to cry. I looked at him and made him promise that we would never part with undone words between us. We would never part without saying I Love You. When this woman left her home that morning little did she, or her husband, know that it would be the last time they would see each other this side of Heaven. It saddens my heart that there are so many with hardened hearts in my own circle of family and friends. I’m perplexed sometimes of what I am to do. The first second after your last minute is too late.
As a believer, we are called to be a light shining in a dark place. If we walk in His way, we become “Sons and Daughters of Light”, revealing the truth and pointing people to God. We do this by the testimony of our lives, bearing the Fruit of Holy Spirit, and spreading the good news about the blessings of what Jesus has done in and for us as we share our own story. Many people think that Christ followers are hypocrites; that they say one thing and do another that they are holy and pious on Sunday and the rest of the week they easily slide back to the “old life”. Our entire life must be a testimony to Jesus and life changing forgiveness and salvation.
To point people to Christ, we don’t need to be able to explain every theological issue or answer every question. What we must do is put in plain words what we have witnessed in our own lives through the finished work of the Cross and the resurrection of our Savior. The Good News of Jesus Christ is still silliness to millions who are perishing. Very few people can recognize that the answer to their problems can be found at the foot of the Cross. They just don’t get it that Jesus died on that Cross for every one of us. He willingly died on the Cross for the humble, the proud, the rich, the poor, the educated, the uneducated, whatever your background, whatever your color, whatever your heritage, whatever your history… none of that matters to Jesus. He knows everything about you. He knows the sins that you hide, He knows your proud heart, He also knows your cry’s in the night. He is your Savior and He wants you. “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in the while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:6-8
So after doing all of that, what do we do about those that, like the first century witnesses, want nothing to do with Jesus or His gift of Salvation? Don’t be discouraged if your witness for Christ doesn’t turn as many to Him as would like. Your job is to continue as a faithful witness. Remember, you can’t always open someone’s heart to the Truth of the Gospel — but God can. Our calling is to reach out to others. If they choose to harden their hearts, that is their eternal decision.
Jesus’ word shows that the way to eternal life, though unseen, is secure – as secure as your trust in Jesus. He has already prepared the way to eternal life. The only issue that may still be unsettled is our willingness to believe. In John 14:6, Jesus says He is the Way to God the Father. Some may argue that this way is too narrow. In reality it is wide enough for the whole world… if the world chooses to accept it.