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John 2:23-25, NIV
23 Now while he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.
November 28, 2010
Jesus knows the evil in us; but I would argue that he also knows the good. After all, we were created in God's image and likeness. We need to believe that and live/think/behave like we believe it. We belong to God, not the devil! God the creator is a God of hope. Otherwise, why would this world exist?
Elizabeth O'Connor wrote: "It was said of Jesus, 'He himself knew what was in a man.' He knew the light and He knew the darkness, and that man, for wholeness, must keep a fateful encounter with both. One time He said, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.' It is the task of each person to discover his own darkness and his own light, and the primary task of the Church is to help in these discoveries." --Our Many Selves: A Handbook for Self-Discovery, Harper and Row, 1971, p 112.
God knows. And can see right through us. Sometimes we are glad God knows. When I don't think anyone else really understands me, I can be glad God knows and understands. When people are quick to judge and get it wrong, I am happy to allow God's penetrating eyes into my heart.
There are people who say, "If they only knew me, they would like me." And there are people who think, "If they really knew me, they would never like me." Jesus may have been referring to the latter in that last verse of this chapter.
Are we light; are we darkness? Are we light spoiled/tainted/dimmed by darkness? Are we darkness disgraced/hounded/redeemed by light? I don't know much about the theology of these questions. But I do know this--I have known and seen and experienced much more light than darkness in my lifetime.
It's easy, when I read about Jesus saying something I don't like to hear, to rationalize and think, "He can't be talking about me. He must be talking to the person next to me!" To entrust yourself to someone, you have to deem them dependable. I know I don't score very high on that scale. Jesus would be in deep trouble if it all depended on me to seek and find, to go and tell, to believe without doubting, to love without fail, to give without expecting anything in return.
More journal entries
June 26, 1982
This passage is a downer. It's preceded by angry words and deeds. Jesus had overturned the wares of the profiteers in the temple courtyard. He was also doing miracles among the crowds that were attending the Passover holiday in Jerusalem.
People started believing. Since this is John's gospel, we can say people started believing that Jesus was the life-light of heaven. Believing that he was good, a gift sent from God. That his power and authority came from the Father of us all.
Yet Jesus couldn't be fooled. He knew the human heart! People are fickle, shallow, easily aroused by bi-polar emotions and mob mentality. Jesus would not trust them to stick by him through thick and thin.
One could also look at these comments and conclude that Jesus is willing to be faithful to us even though we are not faithful to him, and that he died for us while we didn't seem worth dying for.
Maybe verses 24 & 25 were John's commentary, an assumption or a reaction to what was happening in his own life. Or they could be something he heard in private conversations with Jesus, on days when things were not going well. I don't remember anywhere else in the Gospels where Jesus is quoted in words such as these.
True, most of us would not get a lifetime award for dependability. Or for promise keeping. Or many other praise-worthy qualities. We may aspire to greatness, but in the end must acknowledge that most of our efforts are average at best, dismal, lackluster or non-existent at our worst.
June 25, 1982The signs he gave, were they healings? Many believed in him--Believed what about him? If they didn't love him, they might as well not have bothered. Suppose that verse read, "Many loved him as they saw the signs . . ." The disciples loved him, the crowds believed in him. When the crowds trusted him, he distrusted them.
Was Jesus performing "signs" (healings) in order to get people to believe in him, or because he had compassion on the sick? Is thisword believe the same word in l:12 where it said that to as many as believed in him, he gave them power to become children of God?
Jesus understood human nature, yet he did trust himself to his disciples. When I use the word disciple, I'm referring to the Twelve plus the others, men and women and children, who loved him and followed him. They were not perfect and Jesus didn't expect them to be. They sinned, they asked foolish questions, they lacked faith, they sought special privileges, they questioned Jesus' wisdom, they puzzled over many things. They got hungry, thirsty, and sleepy when Jesus most needed them to be fully alert and attentive. But they loved him; and that seems to be what counted most.
Jesus, you have something I want. You know how to live--peacefully, calmly, courageously, not avoiding suffering but taking it on, knowing God as your heavenly Father and trusting him completely, loving the people around you, lifting the human spirit up toward heaven, not seeking material gain, praying until your will was one with God, surrendering your life to him. No fears, no insecurities, perfect trust, perfect love. Jesus, I want that. Show me how you did it. I sense your love for me; I want to respond in kind--let it blossom, soak it up and give it out. I want to bear delicious fruit that will honor you name. Through the summer heat and storms, floods and dry spells. Through the cold and winter freeze. Through all the balmy and perfect days, too. I want to abide in you and in your love; show me how to do it. Jesus I'm in the crowd, you see my belief, you know my human nature. Trust yourself to me because I love you.
November 19, 2001Jesus performed miracles at the Passover feast in Jerusalem. People saw the miracles and believed in his name. What does that mean for the people to believe in his name? John has already given many names to Jesus and many more will follow. Matthew called Jesus Immanuel which means God with us. I believe in his name by believing God is with me, in me, beside me, without fail, always and forever.
In verse 24 it is Jesus' turn to be doubtful and suspicious and untrusting. He did not trust their belief in him. He did not need to be told to be careful about trusting people. He knew man's heart. He was the creator, present with God from the beginning. He knew how people profaned the goodness of God in the days of Noah, and he knew Noah. He knew how people grumbled and complained about the benevolence of God in the days of Moses, and he knew Moses. Noah and Moses were lights shining in the darkness.
Verse 24 is a sad commentary on the human race and what we have made of ourselves. We are not very trustworthy and it is a sorrow to God. Do not be overwhelmed by evil. "Where there is hatred, let me sow love"--a banner with those words hangs at the front of the sanctuary at East Fairview Church of the Brethren. Thank you Jesus that love can overcome hatred.
Jesus was maybe referring to our fickleness. He could look ahead to Calvary and see the great desertion. We believe yet it is so easy to doubt. We say yes, but have so many restrictions. I fall asleep when I need to be wide awake. I doze when Jesus asks me to watch and pray.