Monday, July 28, 2014

Believing and Being Changed (John 2:23-25)

“Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” (John 2:23–25, ESV)

In the verses immediately previous to these we looked at Jesus turning over tables and chasing the moneychangers out of the temple as part of the events that marked the beginning of His ministry. These events would continue and His fame would grow until three years later when He entered Jerusalem again on the back of a donkey where He would again enter the temple and cleanse it. Clearly as we read through the gospels we find that many people were hearing of Jesus and His reputation. The word of His signs and miracles were continually drawing people to Him, even if they didn’t really know who He was. Here at the beginning of His ministry we read that significant numbers had begun to believe in Him because of the signs that He was doing. And as we progress through the next several chapters of John (and the other gospels) we read of Jesus encountering in personal ways some of those people, people that had heard, were impressed, and yet did not really understand.

These verses serve as a transition from the miracle at Cana and His dramatic actions in the temple toward these individual encounters. Based upon what John said in these verses, we can only imagine what other signs Jesus had done in their presence in order to cause people to believe. But in these verses we also read that the belief of these individuals may have been something different than the saving belief that we read about in Bible, a belief that Jesus speaks to in John chapter 3 when He visits Nicodemus at his home. These people (in general) may have believed that He was special and possibly even more, but they did not universally believe in such a way that their hearts were changed. Sure, there must have been some, but it was not the overwhelming case such that Jesus would fully entrust His welfare into their hands.

Being God-man Jesus knew more about them than what people saw on the outside. He did not need anyone to tell Him about them, to share their intimate details, to explain to Him what made each of them tick. Jesus did not need an introduction to the heart of man, because He knew what was in man. As we will see in later verses, He knew details which others did not know or they themselves knew He had no reason to know. Jesus had a special understanding of man, and He knew that He came because man was lost and that man needed Him as their heart-Changer and life-Giver.

As a teen-ager I had some internal struggles which very few people knew. My measure of myself in some ways was based upon being better—constantly better. And my standard for that better was often found in comparison to others. In this search I tried Transcendental Meditation, and found it to be empty. It gave me none of the answers I was looking for. And as I sat there repeating a mantra over and over again, hoping to attain the things they promoted as benefits, I realized that the answer I was seeking really was not in me. I did not know exactly where that answer was, but I knew it was not in me. During that time I was also doing some creative writing, including a fair amount of poetry. There was one poem in particular that described the cry of my heart (written in 1973).

Clutching, grasping
Trying to find
That everlasting
Peace of mind.

Thinking, groping
Always hoping
There to find
That everlasting peace of mind.

Giving, Taking
Flying free
Never catching
You or me.

In one ear; out the other,
There to find
Always another
Of that kind of everlasting peace of mind.

I wanted a peace that would last, and I was not finding it. This was in 1973. In 1974 I invited myself to church with a friend, and the pastor that day was speaking on Psalm 139 and a God who knew absolutely everything about me. He was a God who knew every word on my tongue before it was ever formed. He knew when I sat down and when I rose up. He examined my paths, and the Bible told me that He was going to enclose me before and behind and keep His hand on my shoulder. There is so much more in this psalm that struck me and rung true to the cry of my heart. That day I went home knowing that I wanted to know this God who created me and wanted to have a relationship with me. It was then that the things I had learned about Jesus made real sense, and I did something more than believe. I made the choice to turn my life over to Him and trust Him to care for me, to save me, and to give me new life. 

Because I believed in Jesus and trusted Him for my salvation, I began to realize more and more just how much God loved me and has given me the privilege of having a relationship with Him. Because Jesus paid the price for my sins I have been made to be at peace with God. He has no charge against me that was not settled by the shedding of Jesus' blood. And because I am at peace with God I can now live with the peace of God. The cry of 1973 was answered by the faith decision of 1974. This did not mean that I never was to struggle again, but it did mean that in my struggles that I knew God was present with Me, giving me the strength to move forward. And when I did sin, didn’t trust, or tried to walk apart from Him, I know without a doubt that He has never done that with me.

As I read through the Bible and I read about peace, I know that there really is a peace that goes beyond all human understanding or comprehension. Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding [comprehension], will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7, ESV)

I am so thankful that He showed Himself to me, and that He impressed me in such a way that I entrusted myself to Him!

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