I used to imagine that if Jesus appeared in person, everyone would believe in Him. I no longer think that way. Reading the Gospel of John in preparation for Easter I was reminded how many who interacted with Jesus never came to trust in Him as the Son of God. John puts it this way:
Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they would still not believe in Him. (John 12:37)
On one hand, I find this very difficult to comprehend. These people not only saw Jesus in the flesh, but they were witnesses to His miracles and still wouldn’t believe in Him. On the other hand, we probably know people today who are equally resistant to Jesus in spite of having significant exposure to Him. We likely know people who have read the entire Bible, but are unmoved by what they read. We probably know people who were raised by Christian parents, were brought to church each Sunday, heard the Gospel clearly explained, and yet still refused to believe in Jesus.
John describes a second category of persons in the same passage:
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in (Jesus). But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. (John 12:42, 43)
The first category of persons are those who are exposed to Jesus, but don’t believe in Him. The second category of persons are those who believe in Jesus, but are reluctant (or altogether unwilling) to publicly confess Him before others.
If you believe in Jesus, you can test yourself with this second category by importing a contemporary scenario into this passage, “Because of the people at my friend’s dinner party, I would not confess my faith in Jesus for fear that I might alienate myself from them.”
There were people in Jesus’ day who believed in Him, but were reluctant to publicly identify with Him. The same is true in our day, isn’t it? It might be at work, it might be at school, it might be at the golf club. For many who believe in Christ, there are environments where we hesitate to confess Christ.
John also presents a third category of persons, and this category is the one to which we should aspire. The third category of persons are those who have had a profound encounter with Jesus, that compels them to speak about Him. John describes Isaiah in these terms saying, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him” (John 12:41).
When I delivered a message on this passage at St. Giles Kingsway and The Well on March 28, we spent some time addressing the question, “What exactly did Isaiah see?” We spent time on this question because we recognized that Isaiah’s experience of the Lord radically changed him. Sheer dread and reluctance gave way to profound eagerness, “Here I am. Send Me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
What must you see? What must you experience before you offer the Lord the same?
Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory and it changed him.
I want to be like Isaiah. I want my reluctance removed. I want there to be no hesitation in my confessing Him. As the Lord calls, I want to be able to shout, “I’m here! Send Me!”
Have a listen below. Hear about what Isaiah saw, and try and discern which category of persons you currently belong to. And ask yourself the all-important question, “Will I confess Him?”