Lent Devotional: John 12:37-43

by Jonathan Haefs

John 12:37-43 (click here)
Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

Doesn’t it feel like darkness is winning?

When you look at the world and all the ways in which God and the Gospel are rejected… can’t it feel like darkness is winning? Into such seeming hopelessness, John 12 breathes a word of hope through a difficult text in which it seems like people are doing nothing, but rejecting Jesus.

BUT, the people’s rejection hasn’t caught God off guard! His plan and purpose have not been thwarted. No… John says rewind the clock all the way to Isaiah 53 (700 years ago) and behold the plan of God already in place!

The suffering servant of Isaiah 53, who we know is Jesus… he would be despised and rejected by men, no matter how much the arm/power of the Lord was revealed through him. He would be pierced, crushed, chastised, wounded, oppressed, afflicted, and led like a lamb to slaughter!

But none of this thwarted the plan of God… it fulfilled it! Isaiah 53:10, “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief…”As the people were rejecting, God was ruling!

Scripture teaches both of these things and holds them in tension! The people really reject Jesus and they are really responsible for that rejection… we are responsible for our rejection of Jesus! But at the same time, God is sovereignly ruling over all… he even rules over rejection!

Don’t cut that tension or you will end up in unbiblical places! And even worse… you will annihilate the only hope you have! If God does not rule, we have no hope! But if God does rule, then we have hope even when it looks like rejection is winning!

We see this truth displayed supremely in the cross! At the cross, rejection did not win… God ruled!

God is ruling over this rejection for his glory and your joy! For through his suffering on the cross, Jesus would bear our griefs, carry our sorrows, be pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities… his chastisement would bring us peace and by his stripes we would be healed!

Through his substitutionary death, Jesus would bear the wrath our sin deserved… so that, by faith in him, we might be reconciled to God and enjoy his glory forever!

That’s our Gospel hope and it happens because God rules over rejection! Is this your hope?

Oh, brothers and sisters… do not despair over the rejection of Jesus in our world, for God rules our world! Remember that the darkness of Good Friday gives way to the light of Easter Sunday. Sin will give way to salvation. Death will give way to life! This is our Gospel hope… God rules over all… even over rejection… for his glory… and our joy!

*All previous devotionals may be found at 
*The complete SVCC Lenten reading guide is available here.