The second example of this phenomenon in the Gospels is a little more complicated; it involves following a bit of a logical path, but the logic is solid, and the conclusion is clear.
We begin in John 12:
37 But though [Jesus] had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and He hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” 41 These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him.
John (the Evangelist this time, not the Baptist) is noting that despite all the sign miracles Jesus has performed, many of the observers (including, as we know, the Jewish leaders) are simply refusing to acknowledge him for who he is. That seems unbelievable; by this time in the account, Jesus has not only changed water to wine, healed the nobleman’s son, fed the 5000, and healed the man born blind, but has just raised Lazarus from the dead!
But John is unperplexed, because he knows the Scripture; this resistance has been foretold. He cites two passages from Isaiah. The first we recognize as from the famous Servant Song in Isaiah 53.1. The second is from Isaiah 6.10. Those who hear won’t believe, because God has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts.
And then John makes a stunning statement.
Isaiah said these things “because he saw his glory, and he spoke of him” (Jn 12.41).
In the context of John 12, there’s only one possibility. He’s writing about Jesus.
Isaiah wrote these prophecies, John says, because he was seeing Jesus.
So we ought to take a look at the context of these prophecies.
As we’ve already noted, the first citation is from Isaiah 53, the well-known Servant Song. Christians since the very beginning of church history have recognized this chapter as a description of Jesus’ Passion. No surprises there.
But what about Isaiah 6? Most of us are familiar with the scene there too, though we might not recognize it from the portion of the passage that John quotes. This is the passage that begins,
1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory.”
Who is that sitting on the throne, whose train fills the heavenly temple?
Isaiah names him first as “Adonai,” “the Lord.” (Note that the word “Lord” in verse 1 is not in all caps.) But the seraphim call him “the LORD of Hosts”—YHWH Tsebaoth. Jehovah.
And lest there be any doubt about the reference, Isaiah later exclaims, “Mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Hosts!” (Is 6.5).
And John, the inspired Evangelist, says that it’s Jesus.
And this one works in the New World Translation too.
This is not some itinerant Galilean mystic. It’s not even an archangel, the first and greatest of God’s created beings.
He is the thrice-holy God.
Part 4: “Call upon the Name of the LORD” | Part 5: “He Ascended up on High” | Part 6: Excursus: Descent into Hell | Part 7: “The LORD Will Come in Fire” | Part 8: “Let All the Angels of God Worship Him” | Part 9: “Your Years Shall Not Fail” | Part 10: Other Possibilities