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23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
As we come back to our study in John’s Gospel this morning I remind you that his purpose in lining up the events that we’ve seen so far and throughout this Gospel is so that we might believe in Jesus Christ and have life in his name.
That’s the truth of John 20:31 and John’s purpose for writing.
31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
This is why John, inspired by the Holy Spirit writes what he writes. So that those who read this account, this Gospel will believe in Jesus and have life.
Now we’re only at the end of chapter 2 in this 21 chapter book and we’ve seen that John has been right on task with this purpose — we see it repeatedly in these first two chapters.
We see it in chapter 1 where John the Apostle points to John the Baptist back in verse 6 when he says,
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
Then in verse 12 John writes,
12 …to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
Then in chapter 2 we see Jesus turns the water to wine and verse 11 says,
11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
And then last week we saw Jesus say this in verse 19,
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
And then John points to the time after Jesus’ resurrection when his disciples remembered that he had said this, verse 22 says,
22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
This is great isn’t it? John’s writing about Jesus so that people will know about who he is and believe in him and have life in his name and he’s giving these examples of people who are seeing the ministry of Jesus and they are believing in him.
But when we get to the end of chapter 2 and we read the verses I began with a moment ago, 23-25, something doesn’t seem right. Look at those verses again.
Verse 23 says,
23 …many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.
This is good right? You come to verse 23 and you read it and you think — “This is good. People are believing, this is good.” Then you start reading verse 24 which starts with the word “but”. Now that can’t be good. It’s kind of like the person who says to you, “I really like what you’re doing with your hair — but…”, Or, “you know you’re my best friend, right? — but…”
Isn’t there something in you that makes you just forget everything that came before the word “but”? Doesn’t it seem like whenever someone says something nice to you followed by that three letter word it devalues what came before it?
That’s kind of what’s happening here when John goes on to say, in verse 24,
24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
Doesn’t reading those two verse after reading in verse 23, that people were believing in Jesus, make you wonder what in the world is going on here?
What’s happening here, and this is important, is that John is telling us simply that not all belief is belief that saves. Not all belief is real belief. That’s made clear by the fact that Jesus knows what’s going on in the heart of man and does not entrust himself to them.
Verse 23 says he knew all people. It means he sees what they really are. We saw a glimpse of this truth back in chapter 1 verse 47 when Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said,“Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” And when Nathanael was surprised that Jesus really knew him Jesus said, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”
Jesus knows the true nature of man. John says plainly here in verse 25, that Jesus knew what was in man.
While you and I know about people, because we hear of and see the things they do, verse 25 makes it clear that Jesus needed no one to bear witness about man. He doesn’t need to see people’s actions or hear the witness of others about their actions; Jesus knows their heart. He knows their real motives, their real intentions, their real longings of heart. While we don’t know what’s truly in the heart of man, there’s no guessing about the heart of man for Jesus.
What we learn from this account may make us uneasy but it’s an uneasiness we need to feel.
We learn something about man here don’t we? We learn that though some may say they believe in Jesus or show outward signs of belief not all that appears to be belief is belief that saves. We can see it in the text, because Jesus was not entrusting himself to those whom he knew weren’t really believing in him. John says they were believing in his name, but the idea here is that it was not saving belief in his name, it was belief that he had some kind of authority.
These were people who were seeing the signs Jesus was performing, very likely his healing of the sick and casting out demons, and they were believing that he had to be someone special, but they weren’t putting their faith in him as the Savior.
John Gill notes that many believed, “that he was some great prophet, or the prophet, or the Messiah; they gave an historical assent unto him as such, at least for that time. (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
But Jesus knew their hearts and knew that this belief was not true belief because it was not true, heart felt, repentant, Gospel belief. They may have said, “we want to go where he goes”, they may have liked what he was saying, they may have taken great hope in his miracles, but Jesus knew their hearts. He knew that when things looked differently to them, when things got difficult, they would not be numbered among his true followers.
They were attracted to the miracles but not the man. They saw the signs but they didn’t see the Savior. And since Jesus could see that they really didn’t see and believe he would not be a part of them.
And that returns us to what we learn about Jesus here that points to his deity. John is showing us who Jesus is so that we’ll believe. He doesn’t want us to be those people who only see the miracles and not the Man, only the signs and not the Savior.
What we see here is the omniscience of the Lord Jesus Christ. What is this? It’d that he is all-knowing. God’s omniscience is clear throughout scripture. Take Psalm 33:13-15 for example.
13 The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all and observes all their deeds.
Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, knows everything. Of course, we see it in our passage here in John 2:24 and 25, …because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
Let that truth about Christ and it’s implications sink in. Think of this: if Jesus knows everything, even your heart, — and he does — then it follows that he knows just what you need, he knows just how you need to be saved from your sin. Jesus knows you better than you know yourself and he knows that it’s not being excited by his miracles that saves you, it’s only the shedding of his blood. As Hebrews 8:22 reminds us, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” And then in verse 26 that Jesus “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
And in that truth there’s a reminder for us from our passage here in John. There’s a kind of belief that Jesus will not accept. It’s not great hope or belief in Jesus’ miracles that saves. It’s not a belief that Jesus will accept you because you have been a pretty good person that saves. It’s not a sincere belief that “there are many ways to God and that Jesus is just one of them” that saves. Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
So be warned that not all “belief” is belief that saves — Jesus can see belief that isn’t really belief and he’ll have nothing to do with those who don’t really believe in him. Heed Jesus warning in Matthew 7:21-23,
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Proverbs 21:2 makes it clear that the Lord knows the heart.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.
And it’s clear here in John’s Gospel in the closing of chapter two that only beginning in your faith is not enough. Some saw the signs that Jesus performed and had what may have been the beginnings of faith. But Jesus knew their hearts. Though they may soon be ready to make him a king he knew this wasn’t real faith.
So be certain your faith is in the man, Jesus Christ, and not in your works, or even his signs, because He alone can save you. In fact we see this very truth back in chapter one.
John 1:9-11 – 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Believe in Jesus Christ and be saved. And if you have believed in Christ then be certain that your constant hope is in nothing but Jesus Christ.