A lot of times, people say, “I’ll believe in God if he appears to me and talks to me.” There is a fatal flaw with this line of reasoning. God did appear. He did talk to us. He walked among us. He performed miracles. He said words that left all his opponents speechless and without argument. And people still didn’t believe in him. The point? If you are determined not to believe, you won’t believe whether God appears to you or not. You’ll convince yourself you were dreaming or hallucinating or something else. People don’t reject God because they can’t believe, but because they don’t want to believe.
That’s what you see in this passage. The Jews came up to Jesus and said,
How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly. (24)
I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me. (25)
Jesus to this point had healed the sick, made lame people walk, blind people see, healed leprosy, and even raised the dead. How people could see these things, especially in light of the prophesies they’d studied all their lives (Isaiah 53:4 and 61:1-2 among others), and not believe is inconceivable to me. But they didn’t.
Jesus got even clearer with the Jews. He said,
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (27-30)
Who can give eternal life? Only God can. Yet Jesus promised just that. He went further than that, saying that he and the Father were one. What did he mean by that? The Jews understood. He was saying that he was God himself in human flesh. Their response was immediate. They tried to kill him, saying,
We are not stoning you for any of these [good works you’ve done]…but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God. (33)
That they understood Jesus correctly is only enforced by what he said next. He pointed to scripture at how God called a bunch of unjust judges “gods,” because of the position of authority they held over the people. And Jesus basically said, “If God called these people ‘gods,’ how much more worthy am I of that title as his one and only Son.”
Fathers and sons always share the same nature, whether they be human, animals or whatever. So if Jesus is God’s Son, what does that make Jesus?
He then again pointed to his life. First, how he lived his life, doing all the things that God does, and then on top of that, again, the miracles he performed. The Jews saw all these things. They knew all these things. And they still rejected him. Why?
I don’t know. Perhaps it was because all Jesus said and did went counter to what they thought he should be. But instead of changing their way of thinking, they turned their backs on him.
People do the same today. They encounter Jesus, but he is not at all what they expect or want him to be. Or the things he says offends them because he confronts them with their sin and they don’t want to change. So instead of changing, they reject Jesus.
How about you? Are you hiding behind the excuse that you need to see God to believe in him? Seeing isn’t always believing. Chances are that if you are intent on disbelieving, you won’t believe. At the very least, be honest about that. Don’t deceive yourself on that point. But my prayer is that you would go beyond being honest, and start softening your heart to Jesus. Because only in doing so will you truly find life.