John 6:36: “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”
This is a strong statement of negation by our Lord regarding the capability, or ability, of those who have been witnesses, throughout the history of their nation, to God’s miracles, over and over again, yet, with these testimonies, and all that is written of Christ in the Scriptures God entrusted them with, seeing fully that which is of our God and speaks of our Lord, they do not believe.
This is not only referring to their witnessing the graciousness of our Lord’s wondrous words (Luke 2:47; John 7:46), nor to the many miraculous things He did before them (John 10:32), all of which they truly saw, yet were prevented from understanding as pointing to the tabernacle of God – their long sought Savior, Lord and King – dwelling among them (John 12:37-40 – and notice how the context shows that even those who believed among the authorities feared man and loved the respect of men more than ascribing glory to God in this, the day of their visitation, therefore the saying from Isaiah is shown to be true even with such as these); no, this is also referring to their entire history of being disobedient to the words, miracles, punishments and gracious reprieves they, as His chosen nation and people, had received.
The tense of the verb in the statement of our Lord (you have seen) speaks of having seen that which is of Christ, with the present result that they have seen fully with the continuous, final consequences that such knowledge of seeing of God’s revelation has its terminus in, meaning it is still presently true, and remains true. That this not only refers to the incarnate Lord among them, but to His works in their history – which is to say, God’s redemptive history – seems plain; even if one takes it to refer only to the present dwelling of God in Jesus Christ among them (John 1:14, 18), the judgment is just, but I think the text speaks to much more than this, and that the present result is completely expressed of the nation and it’s people fully in rejection of God’s revelation which they had been entrusted with (Luke 12:45-47; John 5:39-40). This was prophesied over and over again in their Scriptures, where God said they would turn to other gods that were no gods, and here, finally, having made a god which is no god out of the traditions they had built into the law of God to circumvent and pervert it, they show the finality of their rebellion in willing blindness to the most miraculous event in all of God’s history; the eternal Son, coming among them to show them God’s glory, then finally dying for the sins of all God’s elect, all those with whom He has been pleased to open their eyes and hearts, healing them, forgiving their sins; not so, with these hardened ones. They, having seen a long history of God’s mercy, judgments and restoration, now, finally, see the ultimate mercy while being judged for knowingly rejecting it, for our Lord’s other statement, yet do not believe, is speaking of present, active disbelief.
How we should be warned by these considerations! It is one thing to say that you are the Lord’s, yet it is another thing for that grace that quickens the dead and declares them innocent of the guilt of their sins, justified in Christ, to break forth in zealous works of righteousness, not to add merit to that merit of Christ which alone justifies, but in worshipful, thankful response to such amazing grace! Well might we remember here what it means to have rightly learned Christ and been taught of Him (Ephesians 4:20-32; Titus 2:11-14; 2 Corinthians 13:5). As Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 10:11, these things…were written for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come, therefore, let us not say one thing and do another, but live in the gratefulness of those preordained works which show and shine forth the immeasurable riches of our God’s great grace in our salvation in Christ Jesus, our Lord, who saved us from so sure a wrath. Let us not take this lightly; it is no light thing with God.