20. Careful Restraint

Short Meditations in John 2:  20. Careful Restraint

Jn 2:24,25  But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.

It is a mistake to take people’s enthusiasm over you or over something you have said or done. That is not a cynical comment; it is a warning based on the truth. A person’s enthusiasm today can turn to scorn, criticism or even hostility on another day. Our emotions fly with the events or circumstances that face us and because they change, we change.

Now Jesus knew this, Jesus understood us and knows what we are like. So Jesus knew that this crowd of people in Jerusalem were responding in a surface way to what were in some ways surface miracles. Yes, they were the simple (and wonderful) expressions of the Son of God, and as such they had the power to stir people’s admiration, yet there is a great deal of difference between someone saying, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” (Jn 3:2) and, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16) One are words of admiration and the other is a declaration of commitment to an amazing belief and thus a commitment to Jesus himself (even if Peter did at one point deny Jesus).

Jesus does not look for temporary admiration for the miracle he performs, but looks for permanent heart-change commitment to himself that comes out of understanding who he is. One is response to a miracle (and event) and the other is a commitment to a man (Jesus himself) and there is an amazing difference. Indeed we should be aware of this when people make a declaration of faith based on one good thing God has done for them. Salvation does not come in response to a single good thing received but in response to a deep conviction, a conviction of need and a conviction that Jesus alone is the answer to that need.

Jesus’ parable of the Sower (Mt 13:3-) shows us that there are many and varied responses to Jesus’ words. Some reject them from hardness of heart, some receive them but soon fall away, some receive them gladly but under the pressures of life soon fall away, while others receive them and they go deep in them and it brings total change and fruitfulness. No, miracles in themselves don’t bring salvation, but they can act as signs to point people to a place of eventual total commitment – that is, when they have open hearts. Hallelujah!

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