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Eyes that See but become Blinded - Jn 12

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by The Biblicist, Aug 16, 2016.

  1. The Biblicist

    The Biblicist Well-Known Member
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    Nov 13, 2011
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    34 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
    35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
    36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

    37 ¶ But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
    38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

    39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
    40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
    41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

    A. The Question – v. 34

    The crowd listening to Christ’s response to Philip, now turn from the question about the Greeks to another question. They heard Jesus say that he must die and be lifted up. Their question to him was who is “this Son of man?” that Christ described as dying. The Christ they believed in “abideth forever” and so their question is “and how sayest thou, The Son of man shall be lifted up?”

    B. The Response – vv. 35-36

    Again, the answer of Christ at first does not seem to answer their question at all (vv. 35-36). However, his response can be understood more clearly when it is realized that Christ regarded this question as evidence of mounting unbelief in him as verse 37 indicates clearly (“But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not”). The more they had become exposed to the ministry of Christ the more they were hardened in their unbelief. They had been exposed to the greatest light and with each additional exposure their unbelief and rejection of him was growing. This light had been confirmed by miracles, signs and wonders and confirmed by Scriptures and yet they were rejecting it. This conversation ends with Christ retreating into solitude away from the crowds (v. 36b). Note that the first section of scripture above is placed in red print (vv. 34-36) as a distinct section.

    C. The Commentary by John the Apostles – vv. 37-43

    The next two groupings of scripture are placed in blue print (vv. 37-38) and brown print (vv. 39-41) as these two section represent the inspired comments of the apostle John as he looked back upon this event after the ascension of Christ back into heaven.

    He first quotes from Isaiah 53:1 (v. 38) where the gospel of Christ was preached unto Israel by Isaiah where Isaiah vents his frustration for their response of unbelief in the gospel of Christ. John then explains why they did not believe Isaiah's report of the gospel (v. 39) by citing Isaiah 6:9-10 as the explanation for their unbelief in the gospel. God told him in advance they would not hear his words.

    Isa. 6:9 ¶ And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
    10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

    It is not because they did not have ears or eyes, ("hear ye indeed...see ye indeed") but their eyes and ears were predisposed to react contrary to what they could plainly see and hear ("hear...but understand not....see..but perceive not"). The more they were exposed to the ministry of Isaiah the more the condition of their eyes and ears toward the truth resulted in losing the ability to see or hear.

    D. The Supposed Theological problem – vv. 39-41

    The supposed theological problem here is how could totally depraved persons “shut” their eyes and be “blinded” unless previously they had eyes to see that could be shut and blinded. If they previously had eyes to see, and ears to hear, does not that prove all men can see and hear until they refuse to see and hear? The short answer is yes.

    This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Biblical doctrine of total depravity. Total depravity does not mean that man comes into the world as evil as he can be, or without faculties that do not function, but only that all his facilities are predisposed toward evil when he comes into the world. It is not that he cannot recognize light but that he cannot love light as he is already predisposed to hate the light (Jn. 3:19-20).

    He comes into this world predisposed toward evil. When the conscience of an infant matures so that he is able to discern (metaphorically see) truth from error, his predisposition is toward error and as he continues to choose error in any aspect of life, he becomes hardened (metaphorically blinded) in that aspect by his consistent rejection due to his own hatred for light.

    With regard to Israel in the time of Isaiah, the ministry and preaching of Isaiah of the gospel among them was like a great light that they could recognize but could not love because they were disposed by their fallen nature to hate the light. The more they were exposed the more they hardened (metaphoricaly blinded) and thus they had eyes to see, but which could not see and ears to hear that could not hear because their predisposition was to choose to reject what they saw and heard. This progression of rejection resulted in shutting their eye and plugging their ears by their own hatred of the light.

    Likewise, so it is with the ministry of Christ in Israel. No light was more intense than the ministry of Christ as he said “I am the light of the world.” The more unregenerate Israel was exposed to the intense light of the ministry and teaching of Christ the more hardened (metaphorically blinded) they became until their own hatred of the light blinded their eyes.

    Hence, the fallen nature has eyes to see (recognize light) but due to their predisposition to hate light, they are like clay exposed to the Sun. The more clay is exposed to direct sunlight the more hardened it becomes until it loses all flexibility and becomes hard as rock.

    Jn. 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

    20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

    The consequence of responding this way to light is to lose the ability to see light because they are being blinded by their own hatred of the light. This is true in any area of the life of an unregenerate person. The more light they are exposed to in that area the more they are hardened (metaphically blinded) until they are blinded by their intensifying hatred of the light and lose the ability to even recognize truth from error in that particular area where they are being exposed to light.

    This is why "no man can come to me" except by the work of God (drawn). This is why no man does come to Christ except by the work of God (being given to the Son)
    #1 The Biblicist, Aug 16, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016