“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man.” –John 2:23-25
In verse 24, there’s a play on words that you miss in English translation. Literally, John says that even though the people were believing in Jesus, He was not believing himself to them. The idea is that even though they were trusting in Jesus, He wasn’t reciprocating. Jesus was rejecting their faith as false faith.
So what does it mean that He was not “entrusting” himself to them? It means that he was holding back the full revelation of himself. In contrast to what he did with his disciples after turning water into wine where he “manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him” (John 2:11), here it’s as if Jesus is holding back even in the midst of performing signs.
The question is, why is He doing this? Because “He knew all men, and because… He Himself knew what was in man.”
There is something inside of these people that turns Jesus away from them. Even though on the outside they may look like their intentions are good, on the inside something else is going on.
Jesus knows that He’s dealing with people who are like you and me apart from Christ. They’re in bondage to sin:
John 3:19 And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil.
So they were seeing the signs (v. 23), but they weren’t seeing what the signs signified. Why? Because they don’t want to see. This is not innocent ignorance. They love the darkness rather than the light. Their hearts are too crooked for Jesus to entrust himself to them.
God’s insight into our heart is not unlike a parent’s insight into a child’s heart. When my son was two years old, he passed into that stage of life in which he knows what he wants and he knows how to express it. And usually that means that he wants what he wants, and he wants it now. No delay. So we train and discipline him that he can’t always have what he wants when he wants it. Life is more than the succumbing to the sum total of your appetites. It has become very clear to my wife and me that this is probably going to take a long time to teach him.
This comes out perhaps most clearly when it comes to food. My son will be sitting in his little chair all fastened in with his bib on. He’ll have a plate of food sitting in front of him. But if he’s sees you getting one of his favorites out of the pantry or refrigerator, Katy bar the door! What’s on his plate no longer matters. That he shouldn’t whine and cry no longer matters. That he isn’t the sum total of his appetites no longer matters. He’s going to carry on until he gets it.
We know that he must be taught not to act this way. And we regularly and diligently discipline him to teach him just that. But sometimes, we don’t want to create a situation that we know is going to lead to conflict. So we sometimes will conceal from him what we are getting out of the refrigerator. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hidden pizza or raisins as I put them on the counter. I don’t want him to see them because I know what is inside of him. I know that his appetites and desires are not ready for me to reveal to him what I’m doing.
How many of you—if you were honest—would confess that perhaps you don’t see Jesus for who He is because you don’t want to see Him for who He is? Perhaps there is more that Jesus would disclose to you about Himself, but He’s not doing it because you have a heart that doesn’t really want Him?
We are a people of unclean lips, and we live among a people of unclean lips. People say they want to follow Jesus, but they don’t really want Jesus meddling in their personal lives. They say that want eternal life, but they don’t really want to believe that Jesus is the only way to have it. People say that they want to keep it real, but they don’t really want Jesus shining the light on the sin that they are trying to hide from Him. They don’t want their rebellion exposed for what it really is.
How many of you are perhaps not seeing Jesus for who He is because you wouldn’t want Him even if you could see? And some of what you have seen, you’ve already turned your nose up to? Jesus knows what’s inside you. Do you know? You will never see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, until you do.
Mary Gray Moser
Thanks for this lesson. It’s what I need to chew on.
Why do you think John chose to narrate this as he did (“many believed in the name of Him – observing the signs which He did”)? Why would he write “they believed” if they really didn’t believe? Similarly, in Acts 8:13 with Simon.
Can’t you ever confront the truth??
You deleted my comment on how CBMW has confirmed the eternal subordination of women at its last conference. Of course some of us are not warming to heaven.
You need to define the word believe. True belief in Jesus is not just simple knowledge and acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. Rather it is knowledge of this and OBEDIENCE TO Him. John 3:36. In other words, you must “FOLLOW ME (Jesus)”. Luke 18:18-30. Believing is just not knoweldge and mentally accepting it but actually taking up your cross and following Jesus. Matthew 10:34-39; John 13: 31-35; John 14: 12-15.