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John 12:36-43, The Unbelief of the People

Monday, March 12

To Believe or Not to Believe?

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Just as Jesus was inviting people to walk in the light, to believe in the light, and to become children of the light, there were some who continued to walk in darkness. Many simply would not or could not believe in the radical message of social and spiritual upheaval that Jesus proclaimed. Who could blame them? His message went against everything they had been taught from childhood.

For the people to believe, they had to be willing and capable of letting go of everything they thought they knew. Even though Jesus' message made sense, promoted justice and peace, and sought to strengthen people's relationship with God, others, and self, his methods were so foreign, many just could not go there with him. The things we carry with us from childhood are so ingrained in us, we cannot even see them much less change them. How can we change that which we cannot recognize?

This gives me pause in my own judgment of people who will not or cannot let go of their outdated and prejudiced beliefs in favor of a more just and peaceful society. If I'm being truly honest, I have little patience for people who blindly follow what they've been taught without questioning. I have undergone many major upheavals in my own life that have caused me to let go of the things of childhood in favor of wiser, more mature ideas and ideals. All of those upheavals were painful. All were terrifying. Can I really blame someone for not wanting to face such pain and fear? Maybe they are too close to it to even realize that a change might bring them closer to God.

One thing I have learned is that change rarely comes through confrontation and blame. The environment for change is nurtured through patience, understanding, tolerance, and love. Maybe I can learn to be more patient for those who have not yet come to understand ways of peace and justice while they walk their own life's journeys of self-discovery.

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 12:36-43

"While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.” After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they might not look with their eyes, and understand with their heart and turn— and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him.

Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.