The darkness of unbelief

by Mike Ratliff

9 Ἔγνω οὖν [ὁ] ὄχλος πολὺς ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ὅτι ἐκεῖ ἐστιν καὶ ἦλθον οὐ διὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον ἴδωσιν ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν. 10 ἐβουλεύσαντο δὲ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ἵνα καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον ἀποκτείνωσιν, 11 ὅτι πολλοὶ διʼ αὐτὸν ὑπῆγον τῶν Ἰουδαίων καὶ ἐπίστευον εἰς τὸν Ἰησοῦν. (John 12:9-11 NA28)

9 Therefore, when the great crowd of Jews knew that Jesus was there, they came not because of Him only, but also because of Lazarus that they may see whom He raised from the dead. 10 But the Chief Priests took counsel that they might kill Lazarus also, 11 because of him many were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

The hard heart that is in the darkness of unbelief simply will not believe even when given irrefutable evidence. That is what the earthly ministry of our Lord was. He fulfilled those prophecies of the Messiah exactly that were given by those Old Testament prophets that the fathers of these very men also persecuted and killed. John made it clear in the dialogues and the examples of miracles by our Lord in the face of the opposition by these men that they were without excuse. The same is true today. Christianity is not a religion based on feelings or liver shivers or whatever. No, it is based on clear, irrefutable historical evidence of what our Lord did and said. Those who hated Him killed Him, but He was resurrected on the third day and Ascended into Heaven 10 days before Pentecost. All of this was witnessed by multitudes of people and no one has ever been able to prove any of it wrong. The evidences of the truth were all from eyewitnesses. The evidences of naysayers are all from people who hate the truth who were not even there. In any case, in this post we will look at some of the events that took place in the last few days before our Lord’s arrest and crucifixion as recorded in John 11:45-12:11. 

45 Πολλοὶ οὖν ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων οἱ ἐλθόντες πρὸς τὴν Μαριὰμ καὶ θεασάμενοι ἃ ἐποίησεν ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτόν· 46 τινὲς δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν ἀπῆλθον πρὸς τοὺς Φαρισαίους καὶ εἶπαν αὐτοῖς ἃ ἐποίησεν Ἰησοῦς.
47 Συνήγαγον οὖν οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι συνέδριον καὶ ἔλεγον· τί ποιοῦμεν ὅτι οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος πολλὰ ποιεῖ σημεῖα; 48 ἐὰν ἀφῶμεν αὐτὸν οὕτως, πάντες πιστεύσουσιν εἰς αὐτόν, καὶ ἐλεύσονται οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι καὶ ἀροῦσιν ἡμῶν καὶ τὸν τόπον καὶ τὸ ἔθνος. 49 εἷς δέ τις ἐξ αὐτῶν Καϊάφας, ἀρχιερεὺς ὢν τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ ἐκείνου, εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε οὐδέν, 50 οὐδὲ λογίζεσθε ὅτι συμφέρει ὑμῖν ἵνα εἷς ἄνθρωπος ἀποθάνῃ ὑπὲρ τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ ἔθνος ἀπόληται. 51 τοῦτο δὲ ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ οὐκ εἶπεν, ἀλλʼ ἀρχιερεὺς ὢν τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ ἐκείνου ἐπροφήτευσεν ὅτι ἔμελλεν Ἰησοῦς ἀποθνῄσκειν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους, 52 καὶ οὐχ ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους μόνον ἀλλʼ ἵνα καὶ τὰ τέκνα τοῦ θεοῦ τὰ διεσκορπισμένα συναγάγῃ εἰς ἕν. 53 ἀπʼ ἐκείνης οὖν τῆς ἡμέρας ἐβουλεύσαντο ἵνα ἀποκτείνωσιν αὐτόν. (John 11:45-53 NA28)

45 Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to Mary and had seen the things He did believed in Him, 46 but some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus did.
47 Therefore, the Chief Priests and the Pharisees assembled a Sanhedrin council and were saying, “What are we going to do for this man is doing many signs? 48 If we leave Him thus, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and the Holy Place and our Nation.” 49 But a one of them, Caiphas, being High Priest that year, said to them, “You do not know anything, 50 nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die on behalf of the people and all The Nation should perish.” 51 But he did not say this from himself, but being High Priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was about to die on behalf of The Nation 52 and not on behalf of The Nation only, but also the children of God who had been scattered that He may gather them into one. 53 Therefore, from that day, they took counsel that they might kill Him.” (John 11:45-53 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

There is true belief and there is evil. The true belief comes from God and those who have it were given to the Son by the Father. They believe because it was given to them to believe by God. Those who do not believe can be very religious. They can say and do extremely religious things. Notice how “right” Caiphas’ prophecy sounds until you compare it with the true purpose of our Lord’s death on that Cross. Jesus was a real person. He was hated by these evil men and they wanted to kill Him even though he was doing things that could not be ignored. What were they concerned about? Was it the spiritual integrity of the people? Was it the glory of God? No, it was that the Romans might come and take away their place and their nation.

54 Ὁ οὖν Ἰησοῦς οὐκέτι παρρησίᾳ περιεπάτει ἐν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις, ἀλλʼ ἀπῆλθεν ἐκεῖθεν εἰς τὴν χώραν ἐγγὺς τῆς ἐρήμου, εἰς Ἐφραὶμ λεγομένην πόλιν, κἀκεῖ ἔμεινεν μετὰ τῶν μαθητῶν.
55 Ἦν δὲ ἐγγὺς τὸ πάσχα τῶν Ἰουδαίων, καὶ ἀνέβησαν πολλοὶ εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ἐκ τῆς χώρας πρὸ τοῦ πάσχα ἵνα ἁγνίσωσιν ἑαυτούς. 56 ἐζήτουν οὖν τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ ἔλεγον μετʼ ἀλλήλων ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ ἑστηκότες· τί δοκεῖ ὑμῖν; ὅτι οὐ μὴ ἔλθῃ εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν; 57 δεδώκεισαν δὲ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ἐντολὰς ἵνα ἐάν τις γνῷ ποῦ ἐστιν μηνύσῃ, ὅπως πιάσωσιν αὐτόν. (John 11:54-57 NA28)

54 Therefore, Jesus no longer openly was walking among the Jews, but went way from there into the country near the wilderness into a city called Ephraim. He remained there with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was near and many went up to Jerusalem from the country before the Passover that they might purify themselves. 56 Therefore, they were seeking Jesus and were speaking with one another while standing in the Temple, “What does it appear to you? Do you think He come to the Feast?” 57 Now the Chief Priests and Pharisees had given commands that if anyone knew where He was he should reveal it so that they might arrest Him. (John 11:54-57 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

This is the third and final Passover mentioned by John. The purification is referring to any ceremonial uncleanness that would have prevented them from celebrating the Passover. Our Lord is a hunted man and the time of His earthly ministry is ending, but even so, it is not yet time.

1 Ὁ οὖν Ἰησοῦς πρὸ ἓξ ἡμερῶν τοῦ πάσχα ἦλθεν εἰς Βηθανίαν, ὅπου ἦν Λάζαρος, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν Ἰησοῦς. 2 ἐποίησαν οὖν αὐτῷ δεῖπνον ἐκεῖ, καὶ ἡ Μάρθα διηκόνει, ὁ δὲ Λάζαρος εἷς ἦν ἐκ τῶν ἀνακειμένων σὺν αὐτῷ.
3 Ἡ οὖν Μαριὰμ λαβοῦσα λίτραν μύρου νάρδου πιστικῆς πολυτίμου ἤλειψεν τοὺς πόδας τοῦ Ἰησοῦ καὶ ἐξέμαξεν ταῖς θριξὶν αὐτῆς τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ· ἡ δὲ οἰκία ἐπληρώθη ἐκ τῆς ὀσμῆς τοῦ μύρου. 4 λέγει δὲ Ἰούδας ὁ Ἰσκαριώτης εἷς [ἐκ] τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, ὁ μέλλων αὐτὸν παραδιδόναι· 5 διὰ τί τοῦτο τὸ μύρον οὐκ ἐπράθη τριακοσίων δηναρίων καὶ ἐδόθη πτωχοῖς; 6 εἶπεν δὲ τοῦτο οὐχ ὅτι περὶ τῶν πτωχῶν ἔμελεν αὐτῷ, ἀλλʼ ὅτι κλέπτης ἦν καὶ τὸ γλωσσόκομον ἔχων τὰ βαλλόμενα ἐβάσταζεν. 7 εἶπεν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἄφες αὐτήν, ἵνα εἰς τὴν ἡμέραν τοῦ ἐνταφιασμοῦ μου τηρήσῃ αὐτό· 8 τοὺς πτωχοὺς γὰρ πάντοτε ἔχετε μεθʼ ἑαυτῶν, ἐμὲ δὲ οὐ πάντοτε ἔχετε. (John 12:1-8 NA28)

1 Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came into Bethany where Lazarus was whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Then they made for Him there a supper, and Martha was serving and Lazarus was one of the ones reclining with Him.
3 Then Mary, having taken a pound of expensive, genuine, spikenard ointment, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped them off with her hair and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment. 4 Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, the one about to betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred Denarii and given to the poor?” 6 But he said this not because the poor mattered to him, but because he was a thief, had the moneybox, and took from it for himself. 7 Therefore, Jesus said, “Let her be, she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 The poor you will always have with you, but not Me.” (John 12:1-8 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

Here we see that those who truly love the Lord serve Him from a heart full of gratitude and love. However, we also see that even those in close proximity to the truth, like Judas Iscariot, can completely miss it. He resented our Lord being anointed and made up the pretense of selling the ointment so he would have the opportunity to steal the money. Also, notice very carefully our Lord’s reference to the poor. Yes, we should care for the poor, but our work in this world as Christians, will never abolish poverty. Instead, we are to concentrate on loving and serving our Lord according to His will. This means that we do help the poor, but the most important thing is to give the Gospel to as many people as possible, not change the world to “make it a better place.”

9 Ἔγνω οὖν [ὁ] ὄχλος πολὺς ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ὅτι ἐκεῖ ἐστιν καὶ ἦλθον οὐ διὰ τὸν Ἰησοῦν μόνον, ἀλλʼ ἵνα καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον ἴδωσιν ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν. 10 ἐβουλεύσαντο δὲ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς ἵνα καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον ἀποκτείνωσιν, 11 ὅτι πολλοὶ διʼ αὐτὸν ὑπῆγον τῶν Ἰουδαίων καὶ ἐπίστευον εἰς τὸν Ἰησοῦν. (John 12:9-11 NA28)

9 Therefore, when the great crowd of Jews knew that Jesus was there, they came not because of Him only, but also because of Lazarus that they may see whom He raised from the dead. 10 But the Chief Priests took counsel that they might kill Lazarus also. 11 Because of him, many were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9-11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)

How evil is that darkness of unbelief? This is what fallen man looks like. This is what religiosity outside of the Grace of God looks like. It seeks to kill or do away with that which threatens their position. Notice that those drawn by God to the light believe, but those mired in their unbelief, like Judas Iscariot, never believe no matter how much evidence they are given or what they see.

I served as a Deacon in two churches. I have taught Bible Study classes since the late 1980’s in various churches. I have seen untold numbers of professing Christians who were just like this. They were all about their religiosity. Since I began this ministry, I have been attacked by some very angry, evil people who could not stand to hear God’s truth. Others wanted me to join them in their attacks on others like John MacArthur and I would not do it so they branded me a heretic.  Every time I have been in serious conflict with professing Christians it has ended up being costly because I took a stand and would not budge, it was always over stupid things like that. People wanted me to take sides in arguments or disagreements that I had nothing to do with that had little or nothing to do with what this ministry is all about. but more importantly, what they wanted had NOTHING to do with our mission, that is, being obedient to the Great Commission and being devoted the God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness. Instead, it was always about petty side issues or personal vendettas, et cetera.

I believe God has used these things to cause separation. He has moved some us further and further away from others we used to call friends. Our numbers seem to have shrunk at times, but I hear from many of you and am told to keep doing what I am doing because God is using these types of studies in many ways. Well, I can’t ask for more than that.

Soli Deo Gloria!

4 thoughts on “The darkness of unbelief

  1. Yes, keep doing the Lord’s work. I look forward to your posts. The time is short. Please pray for my daughter Lou. She does not believe. She is a wonderful daughter, taking care of me because I am old and not in the best of health.

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  2. How the people rage, and YHWH sits in His heaven and laughs! How our flesh melts with a desire to be well thought of by men while our spirit yearns for approval of God alone! If He were not our ever-present helper we would perish into the pit of self-absorbed worldings that parade their sin as virtue. O great and mighty God, keep us in your grace, for we cannot keep ourselves!

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