Have you ever wondered why so many people refuse to believe in Jesus? After all, when the Gospel message is clearly presented, how can anyone refuse such a good thing? In our text, we find Jesus continuing His conversation with the Jewish people. In this conversation, Jesus explains to them who He is. However, many of them simply refuse to believe. As their unbelief comes to light, we find several hindrances that contributes to their unbelief. The hindrances we see in the lives of unbelievers are also hindrances to the faith of believers. As we examine these hindrances, consider which ones you struggle with and in what areas of your life in which your faith needs to be strengthened.
Religious Nature (v. 37-42). There is a conversation here concerning the DNA of the Jewish people. They discuss the fact that they come from Abraham. This is more than just a physical relationship. To be children of Abraham is to be a part of the Jewish religion. We all have a religious nature. God created us with both the knowledge and the capacity to seek after Him. We were all created for the purpose to worship. However, with the world cursed by sin, mankind has sought to worship other things besides God, thus, creating their own religion. For the Jews in Jesus’ day, their religion became a stumbling block for them. They were so caught up in their rituals and stuck in their old ways that they failed to recognize that the Messiah was standing right in front of them.
There are many people today who fail to trust Christ as their Savior because of their religious background. They have preconceived notions that hinder them from believing. Many are focused on keeping a list of religious do’s and don’ts. Many are caught up in a works-based salvation that they miss the whole point of grace.
Having such a religious nature can also be a hindrance to the faith of true believers. There are those who grew up in church and have grown accustomed to a certain routine and even false ideas of what it means to be a Christian. Taking a leap of faith and trusting that with God nothing shall be impossible is a hard pill to swallow for those who are stuck in the traditions of church life. There are many great blessings that we miss out on, there are many things that are left undone simply because we struggle with change. We like our religious routine and the way we have always done things that we never do anything great for the Kingdom of God. When our faith is challenged and we are being stretched, we tend to bulk against it and become a hindrance to the work. Don’t allow your religious nature to keep you from being who God wants you to be. Break down the walls, tear down the barriers, take off the chains of religion and launch out believing that God can do the miraculous in and through you!
Spiritual Stubbornness (v. 43). Charles Ryrie says concerning this verse, “It is not a matter of intellectual capacity, but of inner response.” The Jews that Jesus spoke to were very intelligent people. When it came to the law and the prophets, they knew the scriptures backwards and forwards. Have you ever met someone who knew more of the Bible than you do, yet, they have never trusted in Jesus? There are many who have an amazing head knowledge, but they have no heart knowledge. They have never believed.
The same can be said for believers. There are times when we are so spiritually stubborn that we refuse to believe. We refuse to step out in faith. Let me tell you something: you do not always have to have the answer. There are times when our faith is challenged and we don’t have all the answers. It’s okay. We need to learn to step out and trust Jesus. Sometimes there is not a chapter and verse answer. In those cases, you make sure you live according to the principles of God’s Word and you pray and you take a leap of faith. No matter how much you know, there comes a time when you must simply believe. You must have faith.
Love for the world (v. 44-47). A love for the things of this world is one of the biggest hindrances to belief. I have seen many people who refuse to give their life to Christ because they are so wrapped up in the amount of money they have in the bank, material possessions, and the desire for fame. My friend, it does not matter how much you have or how many friends you have, you cannot take the things of this world with you. When all is said and done, no matter who you are, rich or poor, it all comes down to what have you done with Jesus. No amount of money will buy your way out of hell. No amount of fame and reputation will reserve a place for you in heaven. Do not let the things of this world keep you from knowing Jesus. Look at Matthew 19:16-26. Here we find a man who had much money and many possessions. When Jesus told Him to sell all he has and follow Him, the man turned and walked away. How sad! He chose riches over Jesus. He chose temporary pleasure over eternal life.
This is also a struggle for believers. There are many things we fail to do and be for the Kingdom of God all because we are too comfortable in this world. We refuse to volunteer to serve when there is a need because we are too busy. We refuse to witness at work for fear of losing our job. We don’t want to work with children or teens because it’s too hard and messy. We don’t give to support that struggling missionary because we are saving for a new boat or some other toy. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, but lay up treasures in heaven.” The greatest investment you can ever make with the greatest return is investing in the Kingdom of God.
Lack of Understanding (v. 48-58). A lack of understanding is another hindrance to belief. The Jews simply could not understand that Jesus was the Messiah. They were so focused on their old ways that they failed to realize that even Abraham believed in Jesus. It is explained in verse 58 that Jesus was before Abraham. He uses the phrase ‘I am’ once again, making it very clear that He is God. Such a lack of understanding is seen in the lives of many people today. Many are so blinded by the things of this world that they do not understand the concept of the Gospel. It is through clear Gospel presentations and through the work of the Holy Spirit that people can come to an understanding of the Gospel.
As Christians, we often struggle in our faith because of a lack of understanding. The reason we struggle with understanding God’s Word is because of our sin nature that distracts our capacity to understand. To combat our sin nature, we must engage in much prayer and in the study of God’s Word. Such action will not only keep us from sin, but will also increase our understanding of the things of God.
Total Rejection (v. 59). The Jews that Jesus was speaking with came to a point of total rejection. It did not matter what Jesus said or did, they just simply refused to believe. There are many today who understand the Gospel and even believe that it is true, yet they reject it all together. This is a very dangerous place to be in. God will only strive with man for so long. The more you reject the Gospel, the farther away from it you become.
It is difficult to say that you are a Christian and reject what the Bible says. There are some who will do just that. They are confronted with the truth of God’s Word and yet they ignore it. A true Christian cannot continue to do such a thing. If a Christian is confronted with truth, they cannot reject it. Someone who is truly saved will not live in total rejection.
There are many things that hinder belief. However, all of these hindrances can be overcome. What about you? Is there something that is keeping you from believing? Are there things in your life that is hindering your faith?