“Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would e put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” (John 12:42-43)
I read this scripture this morning and it stood out to me. I thought about how the religious leaders were not willing to give up their prestige to follow Jesus. I can’t really blame them. Why would they give up the comfort of their lives to live in fear and be ridiculed by those who had given them their elevated place among society? What did Jesus have that would cause them to live a different life than the one they had always known? They had a pretty easy life, from what I can tell. They were praised by men. They were considered elite. They had the respect of their fellow Jews. Why give that all up? You would have to be crazy.
They had a choice to make. They could choose to follow Christ or they could continue on in the manner they were used to. They could become true servants to the Jews and anyone else God put in their paths, or they could continue to live in comfort. They chose the easy road. They chose to be served instead of serving. They chose the praise of men instead of the praise of God. This seems so sad to me. They were not willing to give up the blessed life for a life of blessing others. I think we all feel that way at some time or another. But when Jesus gets a hold of our hearts, I mean really gets a hold of our hearts, everything changes.
In the case of the leaders here, we see that they believed in Jesus. They saw His miraculous signs, and they believed that He was something special. They believed that His abilities came from God. They saw all that He did to heal the sick, cast out demons and even raise Lazarus from the dead. Oh they believed in all that they saw Him do, they just didn’t believe with their hearts. They didn’t understand in their heart of hearts, what God was calling them to. It wasn’t about the head knowledge; it was about what they believed in their core. I think this is where the breakdown was. They relied on their intelligence and not on the wisdom that only comes from God. When God speaks directly to us, it changes us. It produces emotion. It lingers in our minds. It consumes us. In the case of the leaders here, they were not willing to let their emotions get involved. They were happy in their pious state. They were content.
We need to let God take a hold of our hearts. We need to get emotional about the things of the Lord. He produced so many emotions within us because it’s not about what we know. It’s not about the intelligence we have. It’s not about the number of degrees we can obtain. It’s about our hearts. It creates emotion within us. When we truly understand who Jesus is, it consumes every part of us. He takes over. When we see someone hurting, we hurt. We don’t just look at the situation and think, what a shame. Look at that poor person. How sad that they have to deal with this right now. When Jesus grips our hearts, we feel the pain they are in. We know the sadness in their hearts. When God calls us to serve, it’s because we have some sort of understanding of the suffering that is present. God puts that there. We may not have gone through the same trial, but the understanding of the pain is there. That’s what it means to have heart knowledge.
God has a calling on each of our lives. The question is, are we going to be satisfied with the head knowledge we have obtained, or are we going to let God come in and consume us? Are we going to live our comfortable lives piously telling others about the things of God, or are we going to experience God? Jesus calls our whole being to Himself. He wants us to be sold out for Him. He wants us to give up what is comfortable and follow Him. He doesn’t want us to sit upon our man made throne and tell others all about Him. He wants to live through us. Jesus never led the easy life while He was here on this earth. He lived to serve from His heart. Are we willing to do the same?