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Weekly Bible Study
“Jesus' Prophetic Statement”
by Hugh Davidson   
November 3rd, 2007

John 2:23-25 “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.”

It says that many of those who saw Him believed on Him when they saw the miracles and this tells us that these people had an experiential faith. It was obvious that the miracles that had taken place could only be explained by the power of God and so in their minds they concluded He had to be from God but that doesn’t mean they accepted His evaluation of their sinfulness and responded to Him for cleansing and salvation. You see, their faith was very much like the faith of Simon Magus found in Acts 8:13 where Simon saw the miracles Philip had done and it says he believed and was baptized. And then later on, we find where Simon was rebuked by Peter when it says he attempted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit. Of course what he was thinking was, “I’ll pay you and then the rest of the believers will have to pay me.” It would be a kind of a charismatic franchise. And Peter’s response was to say, “Your money perish with you” or let your money go to the same place you’re headed for. You see, Simon was very much like the people in this passage who believed in Jesus because their faith was in His miraculous power rather than in Him.

You’ll always find people who are excited about God when they see Him doing something fantastic but the same crowd are quick to leave as soon as there’s either work to be done or suffering to be experienced. And so, where it says ‘many believed’ we get the impression they were intellectually convinced but this certainly wasn’t saving faith, after all, it says the devils believed and trembled and even though they believe we know they can’t be saved. So, I guess the difference between a head faith like these people had and the fearful reaction of the devils compared to a life-changing heart faith that marks the life of a new believer is found in the true repentance of a heart that’s been convicted of sin

There have always been and always will be those who are attracted to the things of God for the wrong reasons. We see this in the example of Jesus feeding the 5000 because after they had enough eat they wanted to make Him king. (And when you think about it, that was quite a demotion. After all, Jesus is God of heaven and earth and there was no way He’d be interested in an earthly kingdom.) And when Jesus taught them that He was the bread of life it says they left Him in droves. You see, they were more interested in physical food than spiritual life.

I think there are some people who only hear as much truth as they want to and then come to the conclusion that real Christian faith infringes on their freedom to sin. Basically, they want the assurance that their sins are forgiven while they also have the freedom to enjoy the pleasure of sin. I remember reading about the Roman Catholic practice of selling indulgences during the middle ages. People would sin and the priest would charge so much for that particular sin. Then someone came up with the idea that you might be out for a night of sin and have a heart attack and die, so to make sure that didn’t happen they devised a system where a person could pay for their sins ahead of time and then they’d have nothing to worry about. Now, when we hear that, we assume the whole idea is absurd, right? After all, there was no genuine repentance there and there’s no sorrow for having done wrong and offending God. But, what about the Christian who says, I’ll just sin and then based on I John 1:9 I’ll confess my sin and God who is faithful and He will forgive me? Well, the fact is; that kind of behavior is no different than the guy who pays for forgiveness ahead of time. Both of them are presuming upon the grace of God.

And so, the people who saw Jesus’ miracles and believed had a faith that was based on their experience rather than the eternal word of God. And we can see from the scripture that Jesus didn’t get too excited about their faith. I think a good way of understanding what was happening here would be to say, they believed in Him but He didn’t believe in them. And if that seems too harsh of an interpretation look at the last verse where it says, “because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for He knew what was in man.” In other words, He wasn’t fooled by their excitement.

Listen, Jesus could stand in front of a crowd of 5,000 people and know what everyone was thinking. We all know that’s true based on our understanding of scripture but think about it. Since you got out of bed this morning God has not only heard every word you said but knows every thought that went through your mind. What you said at home, the thoughts that went through your head as you went about your day and everything you thought about since you began reading this article. Now, we all know this is true but we conveniently block it out of our minds. And yet, here’s a stunning thought, God knows what’s in your heart and He loves you anyways.

As God looks at us He sees us as we really are rather than as we wish people would see us. He describes our heart in Jeremiah 17:9 where He says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” And even thought that’s a grim view of the human race, it’s only as we see ourselves that we can see both our need of forgiveness and the depth of God’s love.

This passage is a beautiful illustration of the love of God where Jesus came to the place reserved for worship and all He found were a bunch of crooks and then He saw those who would follow Him as long as He satisfied their need for the sensational. And still these were the people He went to the cross and died for. And guess what? You were one of them.

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