Theology of Unbelief

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Jesus came with a timeless invitation and promise – that all who believe in him will experience eternal life and abundant light in place of darkness. But despite the profound nature of his message and the many signs revealing his divine identity, many nevertheless turned him away. What kept them from grasping the beauty and wonder of Jesus’ proposal? And what does their rejection reveal about the deepest desires of the human heart?

The Gospel of John records Jesus’ “last call” – his final public invitation for people to receive the life he came to bring. In these verses, John summarizes Jesus’ core message and invitation, while also seeking to explain why so few people embraced it.

Jesus’ message was simple yet revolutionary. He proclaimed that anyone could receive new life simply by trusting in him, for he spoke the very words of God. He came to rescue people from spiritual blindness and bring them out of death into light and life. His mission was not to judge but to save the world through his own sacrificial love.

And yet unbelief remained the norm. John explains that some had their hearts hardened by God, though others rejected Jesus out of their own willful refusal to see. But the ultimate reason was that people loved human glory and approval more than the glory of God revealed in Jesus. Worldly comfort and affirmation seemed more desirable than submitting to Jesus and receiving his gift of eternal life.

  1. Jesus’ core message – Anyone can get in on this. If you trust Jesus, you’re trusting God because Jesus speaks God’s words. Jesus came to bring people out of darkness. Jesus came to save the world, not judge it.
  2. Explaining why more people didn’t embrace Jesus’ message:
    • It’s not because they haven’t seen Jesus’ miracles and signs.
    • The nature of unbelief is not to believe. People don’t believe because that’s their nature.
    • God hardened the hearts of some who would not believe. However, the text also says people were responsible for their own unbelief. God gave people what they asked for – a hardened heart.
  3. The reason people didn’t believe Jesus is because they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. They preferred comfort, approval, and affirmation in this world rather than submitting to Jesus.

Jesus’ last call still stands today – his proposal of grace, light and eternal joy remains open to all who will believe. But will we accept his invitation? Or will we continue chasing after lesser glories that cannot satisfy the deepest longings of the heart?

The choice remains before us. We can embrace Jesus’ gracious offer and say “thy will be done,” surrendering our lives fully to him. Or in the end, God may simply say to us “thy will be done,” granting us a life without him – the very thing we had originally pursued.

The glory of Jesus far outshines any glory this world can offer. May his love and grace melt our stubborn hearts, opening our eyes to see the wonder of his person and proposal. And may we say with all sincerity, “Jesus, I surrender my life to you. I believe – help my unbelief. Come into my heart and take full possession.” His proposal still stands – the question is, will we finally say “Yes” to the one kneeling before us?


John 12:37-50

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