Scripture: Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. John 2:13-22 ESV
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Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, upon entering the temple, Jesus sees the money changers conducting business in the outer court. Infuriated, Jesus makes a whip from cords, drives these unscrupulous merchants out of the temple with their sheep and oxen, chucks their coins, turns over their tables, and tells the remaining few selling pigeons not to make his Father’s house a house of trade. Indignant, the Jewish leaders question Jesus about his authority to act in this manner. Jesus ignores their question and declares that if they destroy this temple, he will raise it in three days (implying his physical body). Missing the metaphor, they question how Jesus could reconstruct it in three days. (John adds that his disciples remembered this heated exchange after Jesus’ resurrection and resultantly believed all he spoke and the Scriptures that pointed to him.)
Today’s devotion is a brief notation to John’s audience that in light of the altercation at the temple and the religious leaders’ rejection of Jesus’ authority, many believed in his name—but only because of the miraculous signs he performed. Regardless, Jesus did not rely on the testimony of others to validate his identity and calling. Moreover, he “knew” the nature of humankind and thus did not entrust himself to fellow Israelites.
Takeaway: John strategically places this sidenote early in his Gospel. Before his readers go any further, John wants them to understand that Jesus, who knew what was in the hearts of all humankind, never entrusted himself to them. Indeed, he foreknew the mercurial crowds who cheered him when it suited them would later jeer him and demand his crucifixion. Jesus knew that his disciples, who would declare utter allegiance to him, would abandon him when most needed. And Jesus purposely chose Judas and invested three years of his life with him knowing Judas would betray him. Why? Because he wholeheartedly entrusted himself to his Father’s love and guidance. Jesus relied on his Father’s affirmation of his identity and calling (Mark 1:11, Matthew 17:5; 20:28) and ongoing direction with each ministry step (Mark 1:35; 6:46; 14:35).
Our takeaway? Like Jesus, we must entrust ourselves solely to our Triune God’s love, affirmation, and guidance. While trust is foundational in building love and intimacy with family and friends, we must resist entrusting ourselves to all of them: placing our value, hope, and future in them. And while the Holy Spirit may speak through others to affirm our calling and express our Father’s love for us, ultimately, we find our identity and self-worth in his Son, who came to serve us and give us his life as a ransom (Matthew 20:28).
So what does this look like as we navigate relationships with family, friends, and even enemies? We lean on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, discerning the pace and involvement in our relationship with others. He may call us to make friends out of enemies or to give them a wide berth. He may prevent us from rushing into relationships that cause unnecessary strife and anxiety, or at least proceed cautiously. And if we wait for his direction, we will find the courage and strength to take the next step.
But how do we discern the Holy Spirit’s guidance? By patiently observing and listening. We note the spiritual fruit of others or the lack thereof. We make time to pull away and listen, utilizing Scripture, prayer, and the counsel of mature Christians. And after seeking these safeguards, if we still sense a calling to invest in others who may abandon or betray us, we move forward empowered by a godly love that flows through us, entrusting ourselves solely to God, who works all things for our good (Romans 8:28).
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son, who entrusted himself to you alone and thus gave his life as a ransom for us who once were your enemies. And we thank you for your Holy Spirit and the community of believers, who, conjoined with our prayers and your Word, provide the guidance we need to navigate relationships with loved ones and even our enemies. Still, we confess that we are prone to make idols of others and seek their affirmation and guidance above yours. So would you please help us to repent when we do and reorientate, entrusting ourselves to you? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling