But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “Lord, who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?” But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts— so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. (John 12:37-41)
Read: Ezekiel 44:1 – 46:24
Relate: Earlier in His ministry, Jesus told a parable of two men who died,. The first was a rich man named Barabbas and the second man was poor Lazarus. These two men knew each other in life only because Barabbas allowed Lazarus to dig through his trash in hopes of finding something for dinner. After they both died, a role reversal of Biblical proportions had occurred. Now rich Barabbas was stuck in the torture and torment of hell as Lazarus was chillaxin in heaven. Barabbas didn’t like this situation and asked for an out. When that wasn’t given he asked for some relief. Again he was denied. Finally he asked that someone would go to his brothers who are still alive and warn them. He didn’t want to be stuck next door to them in hell for eternity. (Forgive this loose paraphrase. For a more literal rendering of the story check out Luke’s version.)
Abraham responded to Barabbas’ request, “They can read all about it. The men who wrote the Bible have already given warning.” Rich Barabbas replied back, “That isn’t enough. But if someone from the dead went and visited them, then they would believe.” To this Abraham answered, “Nope. If they won’t read what is written in scripture, they wouldn’t believe even if someone was raised from the dead.”
Someone was raised from the dead. When Jesus is here in Jerusalem just days before He would die and then be raised, most of the crowd still did not believe in him. Right there in the suburbs is a guy named Lazarus that many of them have met and nearly all of them have heard of. He spent days in the grave building up a stink before Jesus said, “Lazarus, come on out.” All around town are people who used to be blind but now can see, deaf who can now hear, and leprous who are now clean. There are sharply dressed, respectable men walking around who used to be running around naked in graveyards, demon possessed and beating up anyone who got too close. There’s that former cripple who keeps bumping into everyone because he likes to skip around town instead of walking like everybody else.
React: So what will it take for you to believe? What is your “if only God…”? Forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical. The truth is, the truth is. If you chose not to believe the truth that’s your own damned fault. Yes, I said damned. The truth is all around you, it has been written and collected into a book that has been more prolifically spread around the world than any other hundred books combined. If you chose not to believe, if you prefer stubborn and willful ignorance, then damned is exactly what you are. I wish it were not so. God wishes it were not so, but He has given you the freedom to chose. If you waste that freedom on stupidly choosing to ignore His sacrifice, His grace and His mercy then you have nobody to blame. You stand condemned.
God, I surrender. I admit that I am a sinner in desperate need of You. I recognize that there is no possible way for me to successfully navigate the challenges and temptations of this life without You. I’ve tried. I’ve failed. So now I’m turning the controls over to You. Jesus, You are God. I acknowledge this and I acknowledge that You alone have provided a way for me to have access to You. Forgive my failed and stupid attempts to try and run my life my own way. Let Your grace cover over my failure. Come and live in me. Come and live through me. I believe in You. I trust in You. I surrender to You.