Reframing Trust | John 12:37-50
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 12:37–12:50
Introduction | Trust…
Good Morning! Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel. In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
What is trust? Trust defined is: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something. It is the foundation of Hope, the concept of faith. It is the foundation of relationships. In order to understand who someone/something is you have to know who they are and are they reliable? Are they strong enough or do they have the ability to with stand pressure and scrutiny can I place my faith in or trust in someone or something? If there is not trust, there is not good faith, not belief in the reliability of something or someone and it has been eroded then the relationship with this think or person is no longer something you can rest and rely on but is broken. You don’t believe you balk, you don’t have faith you have frustration.
Doubt isn’t the opposite of trust, faithlessness is… doubt is a questioning that can be or met with answers. Instead it’s unbelief. So someone speaks and you simply don’t believe what they say you don’t rely on their word. Unbelief causes us to not engage in areas our with places we know we cannot rely on them.
Why don’t we trust? Because there is sin and brokenness. We cannot rely on or have faith in the things of this world at all times because they are not strong enough to place weight on. When something is broken, it lacks integrity and so when you place the pressure of your life on it will not hold up it will buckle. Part of why we don’t trust is we have placed our trust wrongly and we’ve then found when it/their strength is tested it leads to brokenness and we’ve been hurt. This happens in relationships when there is a breach of trust at key moments of our lives we begin to see who we can and cannot rely on, have faith in, or trust.
In this hurt we respond by trusting less, isolating ourselves, or keep searching or trying to trust in other places only to get burned and burned again. So we can become jaded or callous as we trust less leading to more fear, insecurity, and pain for ourselves and others. Misplaced trust always leads to brokenness.
We place our trust, confidence in ourselves. I know me, I know my heart, I know who I am. I know what I feel so if I feel a certain way than it must be what is true. I am the only one I can rely on so I won’t trust others.
We place our trust in others, because we doubt ourselves we know we can be wrong so we look around and listen to who might be loudest or most compelling, or confident, and we thing ok I can rely on them. If I can’t trust myself then I can place my faith in others. And nothing ever went wrong from that.
We place our trust in what we can observe. Seeing is believing. I can’t trust my feeling, and others can be off, if I can lay eyes on something then I will rely on it being “true”. The problem is it’s always back to us.
If trust is going to be real it has to be active and functional, where you are able to live and navigate and walk on a firm foundation. Instead because of our unbelief and faithlessness we are tentative. Today we are going to have what we place our trust in challenged as we see with Jesus we are Reframing Trust.
PART I |Trusting Our Hearts | John 12:36-41
John 12:36-41| When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 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?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “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.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.
Lack of faith come from hardened hearts (37-40). - DA Carson calls this section a “Theology of unbelief” because it shows us why we don’t “trust in God” but instead ourselves, others, and our observations. We each have heart that is at the core of who we are and how we respond to the world. Jesus has come into the world, He has had his power on display before many in the region, He has been clear on who He is (Son of God) and the mission He’s on (to give glory to the Father in saving His people) and many have seen what Jesus has done (many signs) and they have responded with “they still did not believe/trust in Him” They still did not functionally and actively place their faith in Him. They didn’t trust Him. They didn’t trust what He had done even though they had either directly or indirectly experienced it. In this, they willingly chose to trust their own heart over what was actually true. Jesus has acted with clarity and they have responded with hard hearts. It says they didn’t believe, meaning they have some personal responsibility.
You have your interpretation of things and then you have facts confront your interpretation and you still choose to believe your feelings/interpretations and your feelings win, then you have actively hardened your heart and placed yourself as the final arbiter of what is “true/reliable” You alone know what is best.
What else is happening theologically? John in teaching about their response points back to Isaiah to show that faith or trust in God is only possible for those who have soft hearts. Those who do not trust God can see miracles, hear the truth, and know the bible, but do not and cannot trust God over themselves.
First reference is from Isaiah 53 about a man of sorrows. It says Jesus isn’t attractive and worth regarding. He had no form or majesty to receive him, he would actually be despised and rejected. He would suffer for us and his wounds would heal us, but the response to this soft tender-hearted God who sacrifices for His people can be a hard heartedness to God’s mercy and grace to us. In the heart (believed) ears (heard) and seen (what God has revealed) there is a comprehensive rejection of all God is trying to do and say.
Second is Isaiah 6, where the prophet is sent to people to preach about who God is and how God will take sin away. Both talk about sin being forgiven, or sin being taken. Bottom line sin is dealt with and peoples response is… unbelief. I don’t trust that. Either than sin has a consequence or that Jesus is the one who is paid for it. So I’ll trust my feelings of guilt for my sin, I’ll rely on my ability for my good to outweigh my bad. I’ll trust that sin doesn’t have consequences… (Good luck) Why is there such a lack of understanding in all this a lack of receiving what is being said and done? We see God has blinded eyes and hardened hearts. This is not an active “they were soft and could see and God changed them” it’s God allowed them to be hardened. He’s not an evil God who is directing people to destruction but He is condemning people who have willingly chosen sin (which is all of us). In this we have to trust (have faith in, rely on) the character of God more than the condition of our own hearts. Isaiah was commissioned to tell people to Trust God but told that they won’t. He’s sent on a mission to tell people what is true about God even though He’s promised no success. In being told what is true there is a reaction and response for those with hard hearts. The truth provokes a change in the condition of a heart. The same sun that melts the ice, hardens the clay.
How should I test this? You check it first in how you respond to Jesus. Check it with what you desire? Do you desire to be healed, to understand, to see? Then turn repent of trusting your heart only! Know if you have a desire to experience and receive the mercy and grace of God that is the Holy Spirit in you, working on your heart. God’s patience is for repentance. You can ask yourself when have you been confronted or challenged in your view of yourself or a situation? How have you responded? Have you stiffened up, hardened your heart, or been dismissive? I know if that is how I’ve responded? I doubt myself (and at times you should) you might not be the best judge of yourself. We cannot “trust our hearts” because they are deceitful, you cannot place firm belief in your heart because it isn’t “reliable” Our hearts aren’t always wrong but they’re not never wrong. Soft hearts seek counsel from a variety of sources, even those who will challenge us and consider and adjust how they see ourselves and the world we’re engaging with. Hard hearts reject the wisdom and insight of wise counsel in favor of persisting in their own self-delusion. You can know the bible and see Jesus working and still have a hard heart that is unhealed. You need to repent.
Isaiah has seen the glory of God and it changed his heart! It’s God’s glory to have the guilt of sin taken away and atoned for (paid) for. Our God’s response to our hard hearts of sin is to show us His glory. God’s glory is shown in Jesus! He’s the suffering servant who by his stripes we are healed. Isaiah having an image of God’s glory is seen in who Jesus is! God shows us His glory in Jesus so we will trust in God’s heart for us OVER our heart for ourselves. Our response to a God who deals with us in our sin should be a soft heart.
Ok I see I cannot trust my own heart and God can use others to help so should I always trust other people?
PART II | Trusting in Others | John 12:42-43
John 12:42-43 | 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
Lack of faith comes from fear of man (41-43).We don’t fully trust God, because we can trust (rely on) others in ways that are unhealthy. It says that some of the people believed, but would not confess the faith (would not say, hold to, actively walk out what is true) because they feared the Pharisees. Trust of others can easily turn to fear of others. How others respond to us can have great influence on how we see ourselves and our place in the world. We are easily driven to fear and silence before others who reject Jesus when we are called to be bold. We can so easily be driven by fear… usually of the few. The vocal… Not even the many.. It doesn’t say they feared the crowds or people of other faiths, or the romans, they feared the hyper religious self-righteous ones who claim power over “who you are and what your place with God is” so much of fear is driven by what we believe will be lost if we were bolder with what is true. We fear:
Loss of Community -Acceptance of others. I’d rather continue in misery of being in authentic to what I know to be true for fear of a few powerful people rejecting me and I’ll no longer be part of this community
Loss of Identity- Who am I in relation to others? I’ve always know who I am in relation to others. I am Jewish, I am part of family of God. I am not one of the godless or idolatrous gentiles. Who am I if not an insider.
Loss of status, really of glory – Being in a synagogue meant that you were part of God’s chosen people. To be put out isn’t just not having relationship with other people, no longer be in the family of God. That means you don’t have hope for eternity! You’re under condemnation from the Pharisees and you feel it as a change in your status before God. What you want to keep is a sense of glory so you don’t engage.
These are leaders who know what is right but they’re afraid. I totally understand this. Leaders can have fear and insecurity, don’t mistake confidence, boldness in leadership as a lack of fear. Don’t mistake timidity with humility. In this case they’re not bold, they’re not able to remain courageous in the face of louder or more legalistic. It’s easy to fear the words and actions of the self-righteous because they look and sound so holy we mistake they’re external perceived godliness for God himself. We like the truth, we like Jesus, until it cost us something. We become weak and paralyzed with fear so we don’t walk or lead in the ways God has called us to. Leaders are not all are sufficient but leaders are called to be dependent.
Others aren’t always wrong but they’re not always right. Other people will hurt you, wound you. They feared the Pharisees why? Because of what they’ve said and done. The answer for their fear of the Pharisees isn’t to simply expose themselves to their mercy, but to trust in God more! To say “You can condemn me falsely because you fear your kingdom and influence shrinking, but I will remain confident in what is true!”
We all desire Glory, the problem is we seek it in the wrong place. We desire glory that comes from people, acceptance that comes from people. This is not just an issue of keeping their faith a secret, this is allowing their faith to be squeezed out by a love for something else. The main issue is that: they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. People can be a great source of encouragement. We are made for relationship but too often those turn toxic and we start live and engage out of fear, fear of angering or being rejected by others. We think glory is found in the more people agree with us. So we’ll hide what we know is true for fear of being bold will lead to us being rejected. We can get our community, identity, and status all from others but it won’t be reliable. We have to know who we can trust and rely on to give us all these things. We have to remember where lasting glory and acceptance come from. When we trust and rely on others more than God we are placing our value, identity and hope in people who are broken, sinful, and temporary, rather than a God of integrity, righteousness, who is eternal.There is glory… It’s from God.The answer for not trusting or overcoming fear of others is to desire a better Glory. To rely on trust in God is to put your faith in a greater glory not a lesser fear. This is a positive Gospel motive for boldness. Jesus says your family allegiances isn’t determined by what others haves said about you but what I have done for you. We can ride wave from others or we can rest on the rock that is God.
PART III | Trusting Our Eyes |John 12:44-50
John 12:27-36 | 44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
Lack of faith comes from trusting only what can be seen (44-50). There is a problem with trusting only what we can see. The problem is darkness. We’re not illuminated. So we’re like I can see clearly but it’s actually really dark out so we don’t understand properly what we’re seeing. The answer for the problem of darkness is the light of Jesus. We believe only what we can see, but Jesus says if you see Him you see God. That means by looking to Jesus you are looking at the character and nature of God.
Listen to what He’s saying verse 47 (Jesus comes to save) means we can trust in the mercy (define) and grace (define) of Jesus. When we have our allegiance to Jesus when we Trust ie: “rely on, have faith in, firm belief in the strength of Jesus.” No the reliability of our own obedience, heart, or others. Spiritual blindness, hardened hearts, darkness, and unbelief towards God are all realities for sinful fallen people. God lovingly overcomes each of these in His people by sending Jesus as light to save. The mission isn’t one of condemnation but Jesus came to bring us transformation so we would no longer walk in darkness but we would be guided by light. Jesus is sent by God the Father for a purpose, not to judge the world but to save it. We can have great trust in a Father who would send His Son for this purpose. Alone we are in darkness but with Jesus there is light. God has given us light by speaking to us though His prophets and finally through His Son. In trusting Jesus, you are trusting God OVER others, your observations, or ourselves.
If you reject Jesus then you are choosing to rely on yourself and you can trust (believe) there is judgement and eternal consequences for your sin. Jesus makes it clear that He is here on earth on a mission of salvation: to bring light into darkness. This mission is not the end. You can trust there is a last day for us all, that day will come and what will you rely on? Jesus will come again to judge, to set all things right (which includes the punishment of sin). We do not always feel this eternal battle, but it is always there. Our only hope is to be connected to the Savior and Judge for when that final day comes, not our own faithfulness.
We are never enough. The gospel is, even though God cannot trust, rely, or believe in us, He IS faithful and trustworthy enough for us both. He doesn’t have to worry about trusting us, he knows how unreliable we are and He is reliable in our place. So that we wouldn’t rest in the reliability of ourselves to be trust worthy but so we can trust that He is faithful even when we’re not.
In response we don’t have to walk in fear of others but we can see others are broken and imperfect and show them mercy and grace even when they are responding to you in fear.
We can keep looking to Jesus to give us light. We don’t trust our own hearts but we trust our heart to God to be shaped and guided by the Holy Spirit.
We go from independent to dependent on God. From guarded in fear to walking vulnerably in faith.
So we can trust the character of God because we see God commandment for His people who have broken His commandments is what? Eternal life in and through Jesus.
When God commands “eternal life” then we can “rely on it” actively place our faith in and walk on the firm foundation of navigating even the trials of this world with boldness when we Trust Jesus.