John 12: 37-43
“But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted:
‘Lord, who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?’
But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said:
‘The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts – so that their eye cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.’
Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.”
This passage makes me sad. I know far too many people who have not believed… yet.
But I also feel sad because of the Jewish leaders in this passage who DID believe, but were afraid to admit it because they loved the praise of man more than the praise of God.
I wonder, sometimes, if I might be like that. Or at least, I have my moments.
But when I read this the other day, the last three words put a smile on my face.
Because it proves there is such a thing as the praise of God.
Maybe it’s because we confuse praise with love…
Maybe it’s because we see God as a harsh judge and not a tender parent…
Whatever the reason, I wonder how often we hear the praises of God, the affirmations of a job well done, an encouraging boost when we’ve done something right.
Yes, I know, our righteousness is like filthy rags.
But, that doesn’t mean our good deeds don’t matter.
Here’s the thing – when we do what God tells us to do, we earn His praise.
Not His love or grace – those are gifts for which no price (or deed or right-ness) can ever be applied.
His Praise, though, can be earned.
It doesn’t make us better than anyone else, it doesn’t increase the measure of God’s love or grace.
No, His praises are like a parent’s when we bring home a good report card, treat our siblings with sweet smiles instead of pinches and tattle-tales, clear the dishes without being asked, keep our rooms clean.
God proves it, gives us an example with His own Son, right after John the Baptist baptizes Jesus. He says, out loud for everyone to hear it, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17)
Did He say that because Jesus was perfect? Sinless?
No. He said it because Jesus chose to do the will of His Father.
We can be awarded the same privilege… if we, too, choose to do the will of our Father.
Thanks for visiting Dry Ground today! See you GOOD FRIDAY!