John 2:23-25, NIV

23 Now while he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover
Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing
and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust
himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.


November 28, 2010

Jesus knows the evil in us; but I would argue that he also knows
the good. After all, we were created in God's image and likeness.
We need to believe that and live/think/behave like we believe it.
We belong to God, not the devil! God the creator is a God of hope. Otherwise, why would this world exist?

Elizabeth O'Connor wrote: "It was said of Jesus, 'He himself knew
what was in a man.' He knew the light and He knew the darkness,
and that man, for wholeness, must keep a fateful encounter with
both. One time He said, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good
but God alone.' It is the task of each person to discover his own
darkness and his own light, and the primary task of the Church
is to help in these discoveries." --Our Many Selves: A Handbook
for Self-Discovery
, Harper and Row, 1971, p 112.

God knows. And can see right through us. Sometimes we are
glad God knows. When I don't think anyone else really understands
me, I can be glad God knows and understands. When people are
quick to judge and get it wrong, I am happy to allow God's
penetrating eyes into my heart.

There are people who say, "If they only knew me, they would like
me." And there are people who think, "If they really knew me, they
would never like me." Jesus may have been referring to the latter
in that last verse of this chapter.

Are we light; are we darkness? Are we light spoiled/tainted/dimmed
by darkness? Are we darkness disgraced/hounded/redeemed by
light? I don't know much about the theology of these questions.
But I do know this--I have known and seen and experienced much
more light than darkness in my lifetime.

It's easy, when I read about Jesus saying something I don't like to
hear, to rationalize and think, "He can't be talking about me. He
must be talking to the person next to me!" To entrust yourself to
someone, you have to deem them dependable. I know I don't
score very high on that scale. Jesus would be in deep trouble if
it all depended on me to seek and find, to go and tell, to believe
without doubting, to love without fail, to give without expecting
anything in return.

                                                                  More journal entries

 June 26, 1982

This passage is a downer. It's preceded by angry words and deeds.
Jesus had overturned the wares of the profiteers in the temple
courtyard. He was also doing miracles among the crowds that were attending the Passover holiday in Jerusalem.

People started believing. Since this is John's gospel, we can say
people started believing that Jesus was the life-light of heaven.
Believing that he was good, a gift sent from God. That his power
and authority came from the Father of us all.

Yet Jesus couldn't be fooled. He knew the human heart! People
are fickle, shallow, easily aroused by bi-polar emotions and mob
mentality. Jesus would not trust them to stick by him through
thick and thin.

One could also look at these comments and conclude that Jesus
is willing to be faithful to us even though we are not faithful to him,
and that he died for us while we didn't seem worth dying for.

Maybe verses 24 & 25 were John's commentary, an assumption or
a reaction to what was happening in his own life. Or they could be something he heard in private conversations with Jesus, on days
when things were not going well. I don't remember anywhere else
in the Gospels where Jesus is quoted in words such as these.

True, most of us would not get a lifetime award for dependability.
Or for promise keeping. Or many other praise-worthy qualities.
We may aspire to greatness, but in the end must acknowledge
that most of our efforts are average at best, dismal, lackluster
or non-existent at our worst.

June 25, 1982
The signs he gave, were they healings? Many believed in him--
Believed what about him? If they didn't love him, they might as
well not have bothered. Suppose that verse read, "Many loved him
as they saw the signs . . ." The disciples loved him, the crowds
believed in him. When the crowds trusted him, he distrusted them.

Was Jesus performing "signs" (healings) in order to get people to
believe in him, or because he had compassion on the sick? Is this
word believe the same word in l:12 where it said that to as many
as believed in him, he gave them power to become children of

Jesus understood human nature, yet he did trust himself to his
disciples. When I use the word disciple, I'm referring to the Twelve
plus the others, men and women and children, who loved him
and followed him. They were not perfect and Jesus didn't expect
them to be. They sinned, they asked foolish questions, they
lacked faith, they sought special privileges, they questioned Jesus'
wisdom, they puzzled over many things. They got hungry, thirsty,
and sleepy when Jesus most needed them to be fully alert and
attentive. But they loved him; and that seems to be what
counted most.

Jesus, you have something I want. You know how to live--peacefully,
calmly, courageously, not avoiding suffering but taking it on,
knowing God as your heavenly Father and trusting him completely,
loving the people around you, lifting the human spirit up toward
heaven, not seeking material gain, praying until your will was one
with God, surrendering your life to him. No fears, no insecurities,
perfect trust, perfect love. Jesus, I want that. Show me how you
did it. I sense your love for me; I want to respond in kind--let it
blossom, soak it up and give it out. I want to bear delicious fruit
that will honor you name. Through the summer heat and storms,
floods and dry spells. Through the cold and winter freeze. Through
all the balmy and perfect days, too. I want to abide in you and in
your love; show me how to do it. Jesus I'm in the crowd, you see
my belief, you know my human nature. Trust yourself to me
because I love you.

November 19, 2001
Jesus performed miracles at the Passover feast in Jerusalem. People
saw the miracles and believed in his name. What does that mean
for the people to believe in his name? John has already given many
names to Jesus and many more will follow. Matthew called Jesus
Immanuel which means God with us. I believe in his name by
believing God is with me, in me, beside me, without fail, always
and forever.

In verse 24 it is Jesus' turn to be doubtful and suspicious and
untrusting. He did not trust their belief in him. He did not need to
be told to be careful about trusting people. He knew man's heart.
He was the creator, present with God from the beginning. He knew
how people profaned the goodness of God in the days of Noah,
and he knew Noah. He knew how people grumbled and complained
about the benevolence of God in the days of Moses, and he knew
Moses. Noah and Moses were lights shining in the darkness.

Verse 24 is a sad commentary on the human race and what we
have made of ourselves. We are not very trustworthy and it is a
sorrow to God. Do not be overwhelmed by evil. "Where there is
hatred, let me sow love"--a banner with those words hangs at the
front of the sanctuary at East Fairview Church of the Brethren.
Thank you Jesus that love can overcome hatred.

Jesus was maybe referring to our fickleness. He could look ahead
to Calvary and see the great desertion. We believe yet it is so easy
to doubt. We say yes, but have so many restrictions. I fall asleep
when I need to be wide awake. I doze when Jesus asks me to
watch and pray.

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