John 12:36-43 God’s Glory v. Men’s Glory

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 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. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

God’s Glory v. Men’s Glory

“Glory, glory Man United!” was a song Manchester United supporters would sing as I went around school as a youngster.  There would be something glorious about being a player for Manchester United, one of the biggest sports clubs in the world.  There is something glorious about winning as many championships and trophies as Manchester United have won.  However, there is something that takes the edge off of the whole thing in the face of death.  We are born, we live and then we die.  From the perspective of day-to-day living, it seems like we should amass as much money as we can.  We should preserve our youth.  We should get trophies.  We should court fame.

From God’s perspective our greatest achievements are small and petty.  Our great attempts at fame and significance are absurd.  Jesus has lived to show us what being glorious truly means.  Jesus lived a life subjected to the Father’s will.  Jesus connected eternity with time.  But he was hidden and understated.  Those who knew what they were looking at lacked the guts to leave their own status behind and follow him.  Most people were so brainwashed into the culture of their time that they missed the glory of what was happening under their noses.


May we see beyond our salaries, our houses, our children and our selves.  May we see the eternal paradox of Jesus who is God and man.  May we model our lives on his glory.  may we embrace death and live a new life.


  1. What miracles had many of the crowd seen?
  2. Why didn’t they believe?
  3. Why are we told that some of the leaders did believe?
  4. Are there those who believe in Jesus’ glory secretly?  Who and where?
  5. How do you see glory in Jesus in the Book of John?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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14 Responses to John 12:36-43 God’s Glory v. Men’s Glory

  1. Mary says:

    Part 2 of 2. This has nothing to do with today’s blog, just finishing up what I posted yesterday. (See yesterday’s post for Part 1, if you like).

    Last month, I was experiencing spiritual warfare. I didn’t realize it at first because I had believing the subtle lies of the enemy. It wasn’t until a series of events occurred that I realized that was what was going on. One of the ways God divinely intervened and caused me to “wake up” was through several different brothers and sisters in Christ (not speaking directly to me) that said, “We need to replace lies with truths.” So, I began making a list of some of those lies that I had been rehearsing in my mind, and a list of truths from Scripture to combat the enemy and dispel the fiery darts. I am still working on the list, but here is what I have so far, as well as the additional truths that I just gleaned from my study in 2 Corinthians yesterday. I hope this will be an encouragement to you if you are reading this and are believing the lies too, to replace them with truths.

    Lie #1 from the enemy: you do not know the Word of God and you will fail in ministry.

    Truth #1 from the Author of truth: do not be afraid, for I am with you, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Deut. 31:6; Jos. 1:9; Isa. 41:8-10), I will establish your steps and I will keep you from falling headlong (Psa. 37:23-24), for I am in control (Psa. 22:28). I am inexhaustible, my Word cannot be mastered, and complete knowledge will not be had until you see Jesus face to face (Isaiah 55:8-11; Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 13:12), yet there is nothing that I have declared that will not come to be (Isaiah 55:8-11; Rom. 11:33), with Me all things are possible (Mt. 19:26). Continue to study the Word and I will equip you (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; Heb. 13:20-21).

    Lie #2 from the enemy: you worked so hard to build and keep your GPA up for the past 3yrs and now you are going to blow it.

    Truth #2 from the Author of truth: when you are weak I am strong (1 Cor. 12:7-10); you did not earn those grades by yourself, rather, in your weakness it is I that went ahead of you, fought for you, and carried you through, I work in and through you to accomplish good things. Continue to have a spirit of humility and submission, being hungry for the Word, loving others, and loving Me with your entire being (Mt. 5:6; 22:34-40).

    Lie #3 from the enemy: you have failed (disappointing yourself and God), this will go on your resume and people will think less of you, which will prevent you from moving into a ministry position. You are not ready for ministry.

    Truth #3 from the Author of truth: you are My child and I love you; I called you, I will equip you, and I will send you out (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15; cf. 2 Cor. 2:14-17; 2 Tim. 2:3-4); I have prepared great works in advance for you to do to build the kingdom. Your identity is in Me alone, I created you in My image, and it is I who give you both value and purpose (Gen. 1:27; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13). I will not fail you.

    Other Truths:
    – 2 Cor. 1:21-22 – God helps us to stand firm in Christ, anoints us, set his seal of ownership on us, and sent his Spirit into our hearts. We are forever His!
    – 2 Cor. 11:6 – Like Paul, I may not be a trained speaker, but I have knowledge, which comes from God (3:4-6; 4:6)
    – 2 Cor. 3:4-6 – our competence as ministers of the Spirit comes from God, not ourselves (4:6)
    – 2 Cor. 4:1-18 – we have this ministry through Christ, we do not manipulate but speak the truth plainly, we preach Christ as Lord; for it is God who made the light shine in the darkness of our hearts (also spoke light into being out of the darkness in creation) to give us knowledge of the glory of God revealed through Christ. We have this ministry in “jars of clay”, meaning our weakness and perishable bodies, so that when we go through struggles, persecution, and spiritual battles, Christ’s all-surpassing power and life that he brings is shown to us and through us, resulting in thanksgiving, renewal, and eternal reward.
    – 2 Cor. 12:7-10 – Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to teach him humility, through having to fully depend on Christ’s power because of his own weakness and inability to overcome that thorn, which in turn caused him to grow stronger spiritually. For Christ was crucified in weakness yet he lives by God’s power, likewise we also are weak in him but by God’s power we live with him, serving in ministry (13:4).

    Scripture, instructs us to prepare for spiritual battle, lest the enemy catches us off guard (Jn. 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:14; 1 Pet. 5:8-9). And so we put on the full armor of God and walk in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5; Eph. 6:10-20). This is our defensive posture as we protect ourselves by refuting the enemy’s lies with the Truth (Isa. 54:17; 2 Cor. 10:3-5).

    – 2 Cor. 10:3-5: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

    – Isa. 54:17: “no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”

  2. Jenna says:

    1. They had seen Jesus feed 5000 people, heal people of sicknesses, cast out demons, calm storms, and raise the dead!
    2. Maybe because they weren’t looking for this kind of messiah?
    3. The leaders recognized who Jesus was – they had a better understanding of the scriptures than the common person, and they could see how Jesus fulfilled scripture! They were authenticating Jesus message by their belief.
    4. Definitely! Many people in closed countries have to conceal or at least not be open about their faith in Jesus, or they will be killed. More like the religious leaders, though, there are many Christians in more tolerant countries who still hide their faith or don’t live as God would want them to, out of fear of what their peers might think.
    5. The whole book is about declaring who Jesus is, the Son of God; John is trying to show us Jesus’ glory by relating His works and words to us.

  3. Beth Coale says:

    It sounds like they didn’t understand because God was not letting them fully see for this time. It seems like Christ allowed some to believe (like some of the authorities) but only because He knew they would be silent about this anyway. It kind of makes sense – if everyone knew that Christ was planning on being crucified, then the Pharisees wouldn’t want to fulfill those prophecies and further Christ’s cause (their plan was to end it). It reminds me of Acts 17:30: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

  4. sjcavitt says:

    1) Some had seen Jesus turn water into wine, healings, feeding of the five thousand, and dead raised to life.
    2) Maybe they didn’t believe because they didn’t want to believe or they were fearful. They refused to believe the Truth, even though they saw miracles.
    3) To show that although some believe secretly, they fear man rather than God, so they do not confess their belief.
    4) Yes I believe that many people believe in Jesus secretly, but they are too afraid to admit it. The pressures of the world can definitely be intimidating, so some may choose to hide their belief.
    5) The glory of Jesus is shown through His relationships with the people, His works, and His teachings!

  5. Rachel says:

    Despite witnessing Jesus’ miraculous acts of healing, giving life, and providing for daily needs, the crowds did not believe. The leaders did not speak up because they were afraid of the Pharisees. There are believers even today who are quiet about their faith for fear of persecution.

  6. kbonifas313 says:

    I wonder about this idea of so many not believing God. I think especially in cities we see multitudes of people choosing to live without God, thinking they don’t need Him. And yet they do, desperately. It confuses me when we say that God blinded their hearts, because I feel like it sounds so harsh, even though Romans points out that it is what we deserve anyway, and I figure if I truly understood our depravity and sin I would instead think God was highly justified in what He does. I pray for those I know who do not know God, that they would encounter His glory in a transformative way

  7. ashleypdye says:

    1) The people had seen Jesus heal, bring back to life, and provide.
    2) They didn’t believe him because their hearts were hardened.

  8. Dominic shortridge says:

    1. The crowed had seen the healing of the lame man, the raising of Lazarus as well as other miracles.
    2. Some didn’t believe for fear of persecution from the Pharisees
    3. We are told that some believed because it shows that the glory of Christ surpassed the glory of man to which tradition had been accustomed to.
    4. Many Jews did believe in Jesus but we are told they hid their support for fear of persecution.

  9. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. What miracles had many of the crowd seen?
    The raising of Lazarus and many other miracles I am sure.
    2. Why didn’t they believe?
    God had their eyes shut to truth. They were veiled and blind, unable to believe.
    3. Why are we told that some of the leaders did believe?
    To show that even those who did believe kept it wuoet to protect their reputation.
    4. Are there those who believe in Jesus’ glory secretly? Who and where?
    Some of the rulers in this story do. Perhaps those surrounded by persecution worship in secret. But I bet you they still are not quiet about their faith or else there would be no persecution.
    5 How do you see glory in Jesus in the Book of John?
    In all of Jesus’ miracles, and especially in his raising from the dead.

  10. Kathleen says:

    The people had seen Jesus turn water into wine, heal the blind man, and raise Lazarus from the dead. Some of the authorities believed but remained silent for fear of the Pharisees. This is no different than some of us today. There are times in my life that I have not spoken up for fear of what others would say. I regret these instances. I see God’s glory through his miracles in the book of John.

  11. Amy McCashen says:

    What miracles had many of the crowd seen? LOTS of Jesus’ miracles such as water to wine and the blind man.
    Why didn’t they believe? For fear of the religious leaders
    Why are we told that some of the leaders did believe? To show that even those who did believe didn’t speak up.
    Are there those who believe in Jesus’ glory secretly? Who and where? Yes, such as those in persecuted countries that have to worship in secret.
    How do you see glory in Jesus in the Book of John? Through his many miracles.

  12. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1. They had seen Jesus do all the miracles mentioned up to this point. He healed, rose from the dead, knew peoples past, forgave, multiplying food, changing things completely!
    2. Because the hearts were hardened and there eyes shut for what they had seen and heard because they sought out the glory of man instead of the glory of the Lord.
    3. Because some of them believed…yet they chose to believe in secret..and they showed what that looks like
    4. Yes I feel like there are two kinds of people. There are those who believe in God secretly who hide for their lives and try to spread the love of the lord but are very careful about it. Then there are those who secretly believe in God but don’t want others to make fun of them or seem uncool and act completely the same as others so they can be excepted by the world

  13. nataliaria says:

    The crowd that is gathered here had potentially seen or participated in the feeding of the 5000, the healing of the lame man at Bethesda, and Lazarus’ resurrection, among other wonders. However, even with all these signs, they did not believe. We are discussing the interaction of the sovereignty of God and human freewill in Romans at the moment, and I believe that those who did not believe did so because God had sovereignly allowed them to continue in their sinful rejection of Him.

    I believe that John includes the information that some of the leaders did believe to show the spiritual and political temperature of the Jews at that time. The Jewish leaders who were seeking to eliminate Jesus were so hardened, and also so feared, that many of those who did believe in Jesus hid this fact out of fear.

    I see glory in Jesus in this book in a couple different ways. The most obvious of these is the many signs and wonders that He performs. A more subtle, and no less powerful way in which His glory is revealed is how He calmly and intentionally defies and goes beyond the expectations that the people were placing on Him. He is wildly and excitingly beyond anything that is normal to us, and yet He is still human, still our savior, and still chooses to become involved in our lives and our hearts, even to the point of death. And that is glorious.

  14. Nick says:

    They had seen many of his signs, including the healings, feeding the 5,000, and raising Lazarus from the dead to name a few. We are told that some of the men believed to show that although they had witnessed Jesus’ miracles and works and believed him, they were still fearful of the Pharisees and were giving control of their lives into the hands of man instead of Jesus. Yes I believe there are people who believe in secret for many different reasons; primarily for fear of persecution and ridicule.

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