This post is part of an ongoing series in the study of John we are doing during January. Subscribe to the blog for daily updates in the Bible Study posts. Subscribe to the podcasts to hear our discussion of the book of John throughout this month. Join us in your daily devotions as we travel through this fascinating account of the life of Christ.
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. John 2:23-25 (NKJV)
What is in man that made Jesus hold back here? This moment would have marked the beginning of a successful ministry by most reasonable accounts. He was doing many signs, which prompted greater belief among the people. The mass of Christ’s followers was growing. But despite this shift of support among the people, Jesus saw something else, and He did not commit Himself to them.
Another translation says He did not give Himself to them. The original Greek translates to Jesus did not trust them. Jesus knew that people, no matter how large their crowds, won over by signs, would just as easily be dissuaded by other outward acts, events, and pressures. On many occasions throughout the ministry of Christ, we see the crowds that followed Him shrink and turn away because His teachings and His ways were too hard for them (John 6).
The Parable of the Sower
Although not mentioned in the gospel of John, one of the most prominent of Jesus’s parables in the other gospels is the parable of the sower (Matthew 13). That parable focuses upon the different types of hearts that receive the Word of God and the resulting response.
One heart receives the Word but lacks understanding. As a result, the Word is “snatched” from him. The second heart receives the Word with great joy, but he has no depth and capacity for endurance. When the hard times come, that person stumbles. The third type of person receives the Word, but the cares of this world choke out its effectiveness in his heart. Finally, the fourth person receives the Word, understands it, and becomes fruitful. This is the standard Jesus wanted to find among His followers, and it is suggested that such a standard was the posture of only a tiny minority.
Most people fell into the other classifications. Jesus knew the lack of depth that was in them. He knew that no matter the levels of endorsement and support he received from the people, many of their hearts lacked the requirements to endure what lay ahead and become fruitful.
Many of us can relate to what Jesus saw in the hearts of the people. We start strong, joyful, certain our commitment will endure, but then that very commitment begins to fade away. The cares of life arise. Confusion sets in. Something shifts in our environment, making our faith more difficult and less sure. That is the juncture when we determine which type of soul our heart is. Is our commitment to Christ a matter of convenience, emotional excitement, or is it something deeper?
The call of Christ on the believer’s life requires deeply entrenched roots. He wants our hearts. He wants us from the greatest depths of our being to the outer works of our bodies. This is the commitment that Jesus can trust among His followers. Such faith, built from the outside-in rather than the inside-out, separates the small band of followers that hold to Jesus until the end from the massive crowds that came and went in the course of his ministry.
Subscribe to the blog as we continue our walk through the book of John tomorrow.
Be sure to verify by email when you subscribe!