Authors Note: It’s not that certain scriptures are lost, misplaced, or denied. Rather, they’re usually surrounded by other better-known texts that tend to suck all the air out of the room. This article will address one of those overlooked scriptures.
“Now, when Jesus 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).
Is it possible that for some to believe in Jesus and still not be saved?
Doesn’t Scripture make belief in Him the essence of salvation? Immediately after our text, we have the Lord’s encounter with Nicodemus with the iconic John 3:16 which states that “whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Earlier, John 1:12 had said “…to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
And yet, our text makes it clear that some who “believed” in Jesus were not born again. The reason given is a fascinating one: Jesus did not believe in them.
When have we ever given thought to whether Jesus believes in us?
Interestingly, the word for “trust” or “believe” is used twice, once for the people “believing in His name” and also for His not “committing” Himself to them.
This leads us to conclude…
–The faith of these people was clearly faulty, being based on “signs” they had seen. We recall the Lord saying in Matthew 16:4 that “a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” In this case, “sign” would mean a miraculous event that would overwhelm them so that no faith was required. (And who wouldn’t like that!) The problem, Jesus said, is twofold: a) a wicked people want it; meaning people with no faith, and b) even when they get it, their loyalty is adulterous, meaning they do not last. If it takes miracles to give you faith, miracles would be required to prop up your faith.
Faith may produce miracles, but miracles do not produce faith. Even if they did, such faith is basically worthless since it requires more and more miracles to keep it working.
So, even though they said they believed in Jesus, He knew He didn’t have much.
–The faith of these people was faulty for a second reason, perhaps even more important: They knew so little. The Lord’s ministry was still young and they had not “heard Him out.” They were blown away by the miracles, for good reason. No prophet had been on the scene for centuries and miracles were only a rumor. Now, One stood in their midst with Heaven’s authority and God’s power. The people stood in line to sign on to this!
But they knew so little of what they were doing, so little of Whom they were believing. In time, they would hear that those coming to Jesus must “take up your cross and follow Me,” and “I send you forth like sheep in the midst of wolves.” They would see the Savior hanging on a cross and learn that His followers were hounded, arrested, persecuted, and frequently executed.
The faith of the uninformed is worthless.
–So, the Lord Jesus welcomed the crowds and taught the crowds, but He was not swayed by their adulation. He did not believe in them.
Three years later, the Lord would say His executioners “know not what they are doing.” Likewise, on this day His worshipers were ignorant of the meaning of their devotion.
Salvation involves believing in Jesus and Jesus believing in us.
We forget sometimes the two-sidedness of faith in the Lord Jesus. Put another way, in salvation we come to know Jesus, but He also comes to know us. Jesus said that at Judgment He will say to some, “Depart from me; I never knew you.”
In the current religious culture, we hear of people witnessing by asking, “Do you know Jesus?” as though that were the beginning and the end. But we might better ask, “Does Jesus know you?”
Paul said, “The solid foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are His.” (2 Timothy 2:19).
I believe in Jesus and He believes in me; that is salvation.
I know Jesus as mine and He knows me as His; that is salvation.
We note also Scripture says Jesus needed no endorsements for those people.
He needed no testimonials for these who said they believed in Him. He required no co-signors or letters of reference.
He knew what was in man.
Jesus was under no false impressions about humanity, not then and not now.
“He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14).
He is under no illusion about any of us. He knew He was getting no bargain when He saved us. When we sin, the only one surprised is us.
So, we must always be wary of trying to make Him think we are more than we are. The One who made us knows us intimately.
That’s good. And it’s bad. Terrible, even.
We say to ourselves, “He knows me,” and we shiver from dread.
Then, the reality of this sinks in and we think, “He knows me and still He loves me.” And we wonder how such a thing could be!
Only then do we start believing in Grace.
“Wonderful grace of Jesus. Greater than all my sin. How shall my tongue declare it? Where shall my praise begin?”
Oh Lord Jesus, find us faithful. Dwell within us. Accept our faith, pitiful thing that it is, and believe in us, we pray.
“Not by works of righteousness, but by thy grace.”
Publication date: January 27, 2016