Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn—and I would heal them.” Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
Most people imagine that Jesus felt disappointed and frustrated when he had done so much for the people he loved and they still would not believe. Their hearts were hardened and calloused because of their repeated decisions not to follow God’s will. Jesus’ heart’s desire was that they would turn to Him so he could heal them from their hurts, guilt, shame, all their hang-ups; thus bringing them into a life of peace and wholeness. Many wouldn’t admit to being Christ-followers because they loved the praises of men over the praise from God. On the other hand, you see the miraculous work of God when you read in verse 42, “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him.”
Jesus’ heart’s desire was that they would turn to Him so he could heal them from their hurts, guilt, shame; thus bringing them into a life of peace and wholeness.
My maternal grandparents were godly people. My grandmother died from cancer at age 62. Lying beside her, at her passing, was the “Our Daily Bread,” devotional she had read the prior day. Five years later, my grandfather died of a massive heart attack while sitting in his chair. His hand was still clenching his Bible, which was opened to Exodus 2, when he transitioned to heaven. Though my grandparents both left this world being close to the Lord, they left behind their adult son, Georgie, who had hardened his heart towards the ways of God. My mother told me that my grandma would pray and worry over her son’s wild lifestyle. No doubt, my grandparents were saddened by their son’s lack of spiritual fervor. My uncle was a handsome man standing at 6’4” and weighing in around 280 pounds. He had wavy, thick red hair, accompanied by a beard and sky blue eyes. His laugh was contagious which was well matched with his hearty voice, his tremendous array of friends and fun parties.
Even though I was only four when my maternal grandmother passed, God remembered her prayers and when I became an adult, He blessed me with a burden to pray for my Uncle Georgie. A few years back, my uncle was dying of cancer. A dear friend, Pam, and I drove to Pismo Beach to say our final goodbyes to him. When we entered his home, my uncle was resting on a couch in his family room. After a short time of chatting, I asked him about going to church growing up and what his relationship was like with Jesus. It was intimidating for me, but the burden God laid on my heart was greater than my fears. My uncle, who was now quite weak and had lost a lot of weight from his illness, began to weep. He could hardly talk as he broke into a sob. I got down on my knees next to him, took his hand and asked him if he would like to pray to give his heart back to Jesus. Through his tears, he said, “yes.” After we prayed and hugged, he told me how thankful he was that I drove to see him. I responded with the truth, “I am an answer to your mom’s prayers, Uncle Georgie. I know she adored you and was always praying for you.” My uncle lived about 90 days longer; then entered the gates of heaven to join his parents and meet Jesus face to face.
Maybe you have loved ones that you have poured your life into and yet they have chosen to harden their hearts. You are probably feeling frustrated and disappointed like Jesus and my grandparents did. Take time during this Lenten season to pray in faith for them.
Example: Today, pray that Jesus would soften their hearts, open their eyes and bring them into the freedom that He has had planned for them since the beginning. God is in the business of doing miracles. I promise you, God answers prayers. Even if you don’t see the answer in your lifetime, your prayers are heard by God. Pray and believe in the miracle of changed lives.