The Praise And Fear Of Men
The Praise And Fear Of God
Sunday Oct. 2, 2022
Scripture To Consider:
“The people answered Jesus, ‘We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up”? Who is the Son of Man?’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. He who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.’ These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.”
“But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’”
“These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory [Jesus’ glory] and spoke of Him. Nevertheless, even among the rulers many believed in Jesus, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12.34-43
Something To Consider:
The people were having difficulty understanding the concept of the Messiah being lifted up in death. They understood that being lifted up meant death upon a cross, but could not put it into proper perspective pertaining to what they had been taught by the so-called religious leaders, concerning the Messiah.
Jesus answered their confusion by speaking of Himself as the light. In John 8.12, Jesus said; “I am the light of the world. He [or she] who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” Here in John 12, Jesus reminds them to walk in the light while they still have the light, speaking of Himself.
In Matthew chapter 5, in verse 14, Jesus professed; “You [the 1st century down to the 21st century true disciples] are the light of the world.” And in verse 16 Jesus commanded, “Let your lights so shine before men [women and young people], that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Is it our desire to so let our lights shine in a manner as to bring glory to God? And if so, there will be times when we fail for whatever reason, and when we do, let us seek God’s forgiveness, praise Him and not fear men! Amen.
Something Else To Consider:
Even after so many mighty signs and miracles the people still did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah. It does bring light and truth to the fact that miracles by themselves do not produce believing faith. Paul affirms in Romans 10.17, that the hearing of the Word of God produces faith when he declared under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
That is one reason the Word of God will remain under such great attacks as we move closer to the end of the age. So, according to our text, the hearing of the Word of God caused some of the many rulers to believe, but not to confess their belief because of their fear of men.
According to David the Psalmist, “The law [Word] of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul, and the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever.” And according to Solomon, the son of David, writing in Proverbs 29.25; “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”
How glorious it is to know that those who truly trust in the Lord are safe! Now, that is not a guarantee that nothing bad from an earthly perspective will never happen to true believers following Jesus. Trust me, after forty-four years of attempting to follow and to trust the Lord, I understand that it rains difficulty at times on the just and on the unjust!
Something More To Consider:
These particular rulers in our Scripture to consider, loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. The fear or reverence of God is described in the bible as the beginning of wisdom. But the fear of man becomes a snare and a spiritual entrapment of which is extremely difficult to escape.
Fear of man’s reprisal will haunt a man or a woman until that fear is conquered by the perfect love of God in Christ Jesus that casts out all fear. We learn this truth from 1 John chapter 4, which reveals, “Perfect love casts out all fear”, including the fear of men. Let us therefore praise and reverently fear God and prove our love and reverence by our remaining obedient even to the end.
The mystery writer of Hebrews 5.8, speaking of Christ as a priest forever, declared; “Though He [Jesus] was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things He suffered.” Yes, the just shall suffer. Yes, all those who desire to live godly shall suffer persecutions in this earthly life. But in our suffering, let us be obedient to the Word of God, Jesus!
A Few Final Words:
The praise of men, if continually received with open arms, will suppress our willingness to praise God. And our fear of men, will eventually replace our needful fear of God. We cannot have it both ways! We either allow ourselves the momentary pleasure of the praise of men, or we enjoy the eternal rewards of our reverently fearing God.
The praise of men is here today and gone tomorrow, but the praise of God found in Jesus of Nazareth is everlasting. Therefore, let us fear God, not men! For according to the apostle John, “For they [the religious rulers of Jesus’ day] loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
Do not think for a moment that this same fleshly desire of so-called religious rulers somehow was corrected somewhere down through the centuries? Rulers of all kinds, whether religious, political, educational, or economical, are all susceptible to the disease of too much desire for the praise of men. What, therefore, have we learned from today’s lesson of a lifetime?
Our Father in heaven, create in us clean hearts, free from the fear or praise of men, and fill us with the perfect love of Jesus Christ even unto the end of this age or unto the end of our lives. In Him Always, Amen!