cascading beauty meets closed eyes | John 12.38-41
38 So that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. John 12:38-41 | ESV
Flashback! God’s ancient mouthpiece known as Isaiah had telegraphed this centuries before, the scenario playing itself out yet again:
Though we spread the news abroad,
No one gets what your hand is doing, God!
They passed the point of no return – faith now an impossibility for them, as Isaiah continues:
The sight of God dazzled them;
Their minds were inward turned;
Though clear as day the better way,
God’s gift of life they spurned.
Isaiah spoke from experience – he witnessed the cascading beauty of God (looking at Christ, he was – though he didn’t know it at the time!) and when he spoke of it, he was only met with groans and guffaws. (And it’s happening again). MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Isaiah has a vision of God, a vision of heaven itself, “in the year King Uzziah died” (circa 742 BC).
He is dazzled beyond belief.
The mother of all royal courts!
The ground shakes, smoke fills the air as does the deep cry, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the earth is full of his glory!”
Isaiah is beside himself.
He is ruined.
“Woe is me! A squalid tongue among a squalid humanity!”
His lips are purged with heaven’s fire, and his heart filled with it as he shouts out “Here I am, send me!” as he hears the Lord searching for someone to carry a message. Then he is given the message: “People won’t listen, people refuse to see, people close their hearts and minds tight so I can’t get a word in edgewise.”
Not exactly the content he was hoping for.
“How long, Lord?” he asks. Surely this was a temporary state that his eloquence in relating the heavenly vision would break.
“How long?” God asks.
“Until the entire land is a desolate waste from one end to the other, everything consumed, everything lost – except for the stump of a holy remnant.”
Talk about ministry prospects!
But that was Isaiah’s life and call – as well as that of most of the prophets of old. And now it echoes afresh in the life and experience of the Prophet of all prophets: Christ. It’s an ancient picture we should allow to haunt us, just a bit. We hear and hear, but are we really listening? We watch and watch, but are we really seeing? We think and reason and feel, but are we really getting it? Jesus rides into town on a donkey, some see the Lord, while some see the final religious/political/societal fix, and others yet another messianic pretender, a threat.
And no doubt some don’t see anything at all.
The question is, what do we see as he rides through the gates of our lives?
What can we do to help insure that when we see we are really seeing, and when we hear we are really hearing? How do we cultivate a genuinely open heart to the things of God?
Ears that hear and eyes that see. Both are gifts from you, Abba. Let the gift of these reside in me – and let it be a gift not squandered, but used widely, wisely. Through Christ.