In John 12:37 and 38 we gain some valuable insight to how John and
Jesus viewed who a true disciple was. John quotes from Isa. 53:1 which
says, "Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of
the Lord been revealed".
What was John implying by using this quote? Itís simple. For the most
part Israel did not believe the message of Jesus, much like they did not
believe the message of the prophets like Isaiah who prophesied these
words. Even though the "arm of the Lord" was revealed in great
miraculous power, people still didnít believe.
You might ask, "I thought Jesus had a great following of
people"? Jesus did have huge crowds following Him, the largest of
which would have been with Him in John 12. Thousands of people were
cheering Him on as if He were a great superstar as He entered Jerusalem
for the last time.
Throughout His three year ministry the crowds got larger and larger.
All sorts of people were following Him around. Didnít this count for
something in the eyes of Jesus? Why is John saying that no one believed
Him when so many eyes were fastened on Jesus?
In the mind of Jesus just because people followed Him from town to
town, saw and received miracles from Him, did not mean they were true
disciples. These people were simply on the band wagon so to speak. Jesus
did not consider the crowd disciples. He did not recognize them as
belonging to Him or else John would not have quoted from Isa. 53:1. Jesus
preached to the crowd, but He did not give Himself to the crowd as He did
His disciples because He knew their hearts were evil.
Who Jesus did consider His own were those who were true disciples by
His definition, that is, those who forsook themselves, took up His cross
daily and gave themselves to Him. These people were few and far between
when compared to the thousands that followed Him around on the band wagon.
Things havenít changed since those days. Not everyone who claims to
be a Christian is one. There are many on the band wagon. They are
observers as was the crowd. They arenít participants. And like the crowd
in the last days of Jesusí earthly life, when the things get rough they
will split. The true disciples of Jesus will be with Him to the end even
if the cross comes true in their own life, and this might well be the
case. Persecution will come and the crowd will scatter, purifying the
church, showing who really is part of the Body of Christ.