John 2:24, 25 – 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.
We live in a media age that regurgitates famous lines from the past to address current events. For example: Almost 40 years ago a famous question came out of the Watergate hearings: “What did the President know and when did he know it?” I just did a Google search and noticed that then-Sen. Howard Baker’s line has been revived and applied to current political intrigue. Maybe someday we’ll actually learn from history and we won’t have to repeat historic one-liners. But I’m not going to hold my breath. Two thousand years ago the apostle John wrote the above words; their truth keeps marching on.
Jesus could not trust the people he came to save. His lack of trust had nothing to do with unfounded or half-baked suspicion. Nor was it a “once-burned-twice-shy” kind of distrust. Rather, he knew what was in man.
He knew in absolute and no uncertain terms what people were thinking and feeling. He knew exactly how easy it is for people to praise and worship today and scream, “Crucify! Crucify!” tomorrow.
He knew the exact length of their attention spans and exactly when their distractions turned to lust, or envy, or greed, or fear, or anger — or arrogant boredom.
He knew their mental twitches of impatience as they listened to the very Word made flesh. He knew their belief had yet cost them anything, how untested their faith was, how the praise of men is a never-absent motivation.
He knew every sinful thought and word and deed that oozes and spews from sin-sick deceitful hearts.
He knew in absolute and timeless clarity the heart of man is deceitful above all else and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). He knew all that and much, much more as he went to the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice for those people He knew in light of His Father’s perfections.
This truth causes me to gasp at what Jesus says a few verses later when He is speaking with Nicodemus. “I tell you the truth, unless one is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3-8). Jesus knew what was in Nick. As godly as he was, this man didn’t have the ‘spiritual sight’ to see the kingdom of God – and if Nick couldn’t see it, certainly he wasn’t in it (3:5). He was not under the protective rule of God (3:36). To truly see and be under God’s protective rule we have to be born from above. We have to be given a new heart (Ezek. 36:26,27). It is only then we will see ourselves rightly and cling to the righteousness of God that is given as a gift by faith in His Son, Jesus (Rom.3:21-24).
So next time a headline or news story sounds like déjà vu all over again. Or next time you’re confronted with the repetitiveness of your own nature’s desires and demands — remind yourself, that’s what is common to man. What’s uncommon – what’s life from above – is for our minds to flee to the cross of Christ, acknowledging it is only His righteousness that has appeased God (Phil. 3:9). And upon remembering and recognizing that truth, the new life within us will desire to be more like the One who saved us (Phil. 3:10-16; Rom. 8:11-14).
Glorying in Christ alone,