In John 12:35, Jesus told the crowd, "For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light."
This wasn't the first time Jesus called Himself the light. He said back in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
In John 12:36, Jesus said, "'While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.' These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them."
Knowing their determination to reject and kill Him, Jesus left them with that statement, giving them one last chance to believe. We're not sure where He went at this point, but some commentators believe He went back to Bethany to be with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
By withdrawing, Jesus showed those who reject Him will not know His presence.
We read of a glorious banquet in Luke 14:15-24. When the banquet was ready, the master of the house sent out his servant to bring in the invited guests. One after another they made excuses; they rejected the invitation.
In verses 22-23, the master sent his servant out again. "Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full." (emphasis mine)
Verse 24 says, "Not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet."
The tragic news: The Jews, the invited guests, didn't recognize their Messiah and rejected Him.
The amazing news: Salvation, the banquet, was opened to Gentiles.
When Jesus withdrew from the primarily Jewish crowd, He showed He would open the blessings of heaven to all who would come to Christ by faith, Jew or Gentile.
Because Jesus withdrew, we also see His sovereignty over the situation. The Jews were angry. The people defiantly resisted the idea of the Son of Man being lifted up. This was not their idea of what was supposed to happen to Messiah. But Jesus had to be lifted up to become the Passover Lamb.
Though John tells us Jesus performed many miracles, his gospel centers on seven of them:
- Turning the water into wine (John 2:1-11).
- Healing the royal official's son (John 4:46-54).
- Healing the lame man by the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-9).
- Feeding the 5,000 (John 6:1-14).
- Walking on the water (John 6:16-25).
- Opening the eyes of the man born blind (John 9:1-7).
- Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:38-44).
These miracles were well known. So, why did people reject the Light?
In John 3:19-20, we read, "And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed."
People reject God's Light because they love their sin. In fact, we love sin so much that we do anything and believe anything to dodge the reality of God and the consequences of our sin. We'd rather remain deaf and blind, because out of sight means out of mind.
Romans 1:18-21 teaches us God has clearly revealed His eternal power and divine nature through creation, but we suppress the truth because we want to hold onto our sin. Not only that, we believe in the creation more than the Creator, we say what the Bible refers to as sin is normal and healthy.
God has written His law on all our hearts, and creation declares God's eternal power and divine nature. Yet, people still reject Christ—because they love their sin.
John quotes Isaiah 53:1 in verse 38 or John 12: "Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (emphasis mine)
The "arm of the Lord" is referring to the mighty power of God, but it's something that must be revealed. God's the One who opens people's eyes. If He doesn't, they cannot and will not see Jesus as Messiah. They'll make every excuse under the sun as to why it's not true, which shows they are walking in darkness.
Though written 700 years before the Lord came to earth, John declares God's Word is fulfilled in Jesus. The Logos, the Word, came to deliver the people, but they did not follow Him because they were spiritually blind and deaf. That's why John says at the start of verse 40, "Therefore they could not believe."
Why couldn't they believe? Because of their spiritual blindness.
Paul described them in Ephesians 4:18. It's people who are "darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart."