The Reason for the Rejection

Read John 12:37-43

"For they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God."

When we examine the life of Christ, we see the fickleness of humanity. In John 11:12-19, the people shouted the praise of God at the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. Commonly known as Palm Sunday, Jesus had arrived to the adoration of the people. However, in five days, the same people would cry out for His crucifixion. The change is sudden and dramatic. How do we account for this catastrophic rejection and unbelief, especially after the resurrection? If there is one thing that revealed the divine nature of Christ and confirmed the truthfulness of his message, it was the resurrection. Nevertheless, the people continued in their unbelief. Why? If Christ was the promised Messiah, why did the Jewish people reject him? In verses 27 through 43, John provides us with the answer.

First, the rejection of Christ was necessitated by Scripture and the prophecies made regarding the Messianic king. The prophets in the Old Testament had anticipated the people's response of unbelief. As poof, John quotes from two passages from the book of Isaiah. First, he quotes from Isiah 53:1, a passage that is one of the most explicit prophecies of the rejection and suffering of Christ. Written 800 years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah foretells that the Messiah would be rejected and experience intense suffering and even death. This suffering would not be for his sin but because of our sin so that he would be the object of God's wrath so that we might be delivered from divine justice. The second passage comes from Isaiah 41:6, in which the prophet reveals that God himself will harden people's hearts. Not that God causes their unbelief, but that he solidifies and confirms their unbelief. In other words, the hardening of their heart is an act of judgment in which he condemns people for what they have chosen.

Second, the rejection of Christ was a result of the people's desire to be independent of God. They were more concerned about the opinion of others than they were of God. They were driven by popular culture and views rather than Scripture and the work of God. This is the same danger we face today as the teaching and morality of the Bible are increasingly in conflict with the modern morality. In a world where people want universal salvation for all without any consequence for sin, where we are free to "choose our own path" regardless of that path, the exclusivity of the gospel is becoming offensive. As a result, even Christians remain silent for fear of what people might say.

Genuine belief in Christ not only involves the full acceptance and surrender to Christ, but it also involves the willingness to suffer the reproach of Christ (see Hebrews 11:26-27, 1 Peter 4:14). To live a life of faith is to embrace Christ and publicly confess Christ regardless of the opinion of others. In contrast to the people's response to the rejection of Christ, stand the apostles, who, after the resurrection, boldly proclaimed, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). Unbelief is not only revealed in our rejection of Christ but also in our silence as well. To live by faith is to surrender to Christ and publicly declare him before others (Matthew 10:33). The question then for us today is this: Are we like the people who remained silent because of fear of the response of others, or are we like the disciples who boldly proclaim their faith regardless of others? How we respond reveals what we believe.

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