Look: “Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” (John 2:23-25)[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]
This takes place early in Jesus’ earthly ministry, according to John. At the start of chapter 2, Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Then, He cleanses the temple of moneychangers. After that comes these verses.
In verse 23, where we’re told that after Jesus performed signs, people believed in Him, just as earlier, the disciples believed in Him in light of the miracle at Cana.
“But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people,” verse 24 says.
The verb is a form of pisteuo, the same term routinely used in John’s gospel for believing faith. It’s the verb used by Jesus in John 3:16.
The message is clear: Jesus doesn’t put His faith in human beings, because He knows all about we human beings. He knows that we’re fickle, unreliable, unworthy of trust. And even when human beings claim to trust in someone, that belief is subject to change, even when the One trusted is the foundational truth of the universe, Jesus (John 14:6).
The human condition is such that we tend to break trusts, turn on others, change our minds. We’re not reliable in any ultimate sense. I know that I'm not. No human being, no thing, no idea, can be believed in to make us whole, happy, sane, forgiven, purposeful. At least not over the long haul. Certainly not for eternity.
Only God can be trusted. This is what I think Paul is saying in Romans 3:14: “Let God be true, and every human being a liar.”
Listen: If I believe in anyone but the God revealed in Jesus, my belief--my faith--will be disappointed.
I have put too much pressure on trembling human shoulders when I’ve placed my faith in them. And people have made the same mistake when reposing similar faith in me. We just can’t bear the weight of the need of every human being has for the one true God. Imperfect, sinful human beings can’t be God. As Paul also writes: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This doesn’t mean that we should have nothing to do with others, I don’t believe. Quite the opposite.
What it does mean is that we need to enlist the help of God in all of our relationships: marriages, friendships, churches, small groups so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can become more trustworthy. We believe in God to help us be trustworthy.
When we fail to be trustworthy, we must repent, seeking God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of those we let down.
When others fail to be trustworthy with us, we must forgive as we’ve been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32).
This doesn’t mean that we should continue regular relationships with those who continually betray us. We can forgive others even when we realize that they’re chronically and unrepentantly--with repentance affirmed by a real life commitment to living differently--untrustworthy.
To understand that no one is ultimately trustworthy isn’t to be cynical or resigned to a life of loneliness.
It means that we love and accept others just as Christ loves and accepts us.
We confront. We talk things through. We pray. But we place our ultimate trust in Jesus Christ alone.
Respond: God, forgive me for so often believing in people, human leaders, or human ideas more than I believe in You. You alone can make me whole, purposeful, joyful, alive. Help me today to trust You more so that I can love both You and others better. In Jesus’ name. Amen
Monday, October 16, 2017
[These are reflections from my morning quiet time. To see how I approach quiet time, read here.]