34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36 Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them. 37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. (John 12:34-37 NIV)
Skeptics are a funny bunch of folks. The evidence can be right before their eyes and yet they continue to cling to what they want to believe. This seems to be what was going on with the people who had heard Jesus teach and watched Him perform miracles that defied explanation. John writes, “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.”
I noticed something as I was reading this section of Scripture this morning. I’m not a skeptic when it comes to Jesus. I believe with all of my heart that He is the long promised Messiah, the Savior who came to die for my sins, rise from the grave so that I might have everlasting life, and accompany me through this life by His Spirit. I believe that.
My skepticism is more practical, more pragmatic. I’m more like the folks of Jesus’ day who wanted to split hairs in order to continue to do what they wanted to do. The Rich Young Ruler came to Jesus to inquire about how to “have” eternal life. Jesus told him what he needed to do and he was totally “into” it as long as it didn’t interfere with what he wanted. Then Jesus said,
21 …”If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. (Matthew 19:21-22 NIV)
It is easy for me to “believe” in Jesus, but I really don’t want Him messing with my life, interfering with what I want to do from day-to-day. Following Jesus isn’t a buffet experience where I can take the parts I like and leave the rest. Jesus said to those in His day and He still stands by what He said.
23 …”If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24 NIV)
It’s all or nothing. I want to not only “believe” in Jesus–I want to follow Him. I want to stop splitting hairs, stop rationalizing my selfish, self-centered behavior, and walk in His steps.