I kept watching him all service long. My son loved sitting in his papaw’s lap during church. I was good with it because my dad could coral my three year old son and keep him for wandering the isles during the preaching, but this particular service, my son just kept staring at his papaw’s jugular. Pretty soon it went from just looking to touching, which went from just touching to flicking. I watched my son’s mouth open from time to time as if he wanted to ask a question. I could hear my own mother’s thoughts, “Oh son please don’t say it. Please don’t speak out loud for all to hear what you are dying to ask about.” Before I could get out of my seat, my son audibly spoke what I knew he was on his mind as he flicked the skin under my dad’s chin. “Papaw, what’s all that extra stuff hanging down?” I’m not sure anyone around could focus on the point of the sermon after that, I knew I couldn’t.
Have you ever been there? You are sitting with a child who just wants to understand the world around them? Sometimes it is like you can see the questions forming on their lips. This is what I think of as I read John 2:23-25.
“When Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast, many people believed in him because they saw the miracles he did. But Jesus did not believe in them because he knew them all. He did not need anyone to tell him about people, because he knew what was in people’s minds.”
John 2:23-25 NCV
I knew what was in my son’s mind at this particular moment. I had been given certain signs that led to my precognitive knowledge his next audible question,but when I focus on that last phrase in these verses, I stop short. What is in my mind? What are my thoughts that Jesus can read? I read Landry’s mind that one and only time, but Jesus searches my thoughts and mind constantly. Jesus knows the level of my faith in him. What I speak and proclaim to others, Jesus knows the truth and the depth of my declarations. Jesus knows the true intent of each of my actions. Even more so than I truly understand. He perceives if they are from humility or for self promotion. Man this is hard for me to write. What am I doing? What is the hardline truth here? As I type away I am wondering, “Are these my own personal thoughts, or are these words flowing from God to me?” What is my true motivation here? I have been learning over the past year, as I write, there is a truth that Jesus is trying to instill in me. Jesus knows me better than I know myself. He knows my hidden agenda when I can’t see it.
That is where we find him now. The Amplified Version in verse 23 says, “many believed in His name (identified themselves with His party) after seeing His signs (wonders, miracles) which He was doing.” Oh, how scripture transcends the ages, as we are watching the Republican and Democratic National Conventions on display. Lines are drawn. Many are asking, “Which party do you identify with?” We may try to fool ourselves into thinking this is modern day, but Jesus walked through religious conventions every time He traveled thru Jerusalem. I don’t have to wonder what He might think watching these National Conventions unfurl; I can just read about it in John 2:23-25. “Jesus (for His part) did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all men.”
“ He Himself knew what was in human nature. (He could read men’s hearts.)”
Many believed in Him because they saw His miracles. They wanted to see His “parlor tricks.”
Luke 23:8 NIV says, “When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.” Crowds were beginning to congregate around Jesus. He was just making his entrance into the public domain. Obviously, he was performing signs that no other person had exhibited before. The bible doesn’t say at this point what the miracles or wonders were, but whatever they were people were wanting to see Him perform more. It is our nature. We are still doing it. We are intrigued by graphic you-tube videos. If there is a popular site with millions of hits, haven’t you checked it out for yourself? We are also in a “show me” state of mind. “Jesus, show me what you can do for me and I will follow you.” We are no different that the people in Jerusalem at this moment. Those in Jerusalem wanted His works not His words. This is what Jesus knew was in each person. They did not want His words. His words would be what led to conviction. Conviction, they could do without. Spectacular performance is what they came to see. That is what they clambered for, but Jesus desired sincerity from them. He desired friendship from them. He didn’t want their praises because of the miraculous signs. He did not take pleasure in these. He desires repentant hearts that acknowledge the darkness inside them. He was the new kid on the block and they wanted Him to perform.
But He knew their true motives. He looked out over all who came to follow Him. He knew each face already. He knew each heart. He saw the inner person for He was God,and He came from God. Jesus knew the wickedness of some before him and He knew their weaknesses. They had come to hear the piper play, but the piper would not entrust himself to them for He knew their true character. Just as He knows my true character. He knew who would be a false friend and who would be his subtle enemy. He knew each pretentious face before Him. His knowledge did not come from anyone, not even Peter, or Andrew or Philip or Nathaniel. They didn’t know these people. To them this was just a sea of unknowns. Jesus didn’t need man’s information. He is deity. His knowledge is infallible intuition born because He created each person who stood before Him that day.
Boy were those words as harsh to read as they were to write? It was a hard scene for me to visit today. Like the boy in the movie, “Signs” with Mel Gibson, I want to wrap my head in aluminum foil to shield my thoughts from the One who knows me so well. But alas, that can never be. Just like I knew the words before they ever tumbled from Landry’s lips, Jesus knows my every thought before it even crosses my mind. He knows my true inclination and the purity of my motives. I have no idea what Landry is thinking in the above picture. I could not tell you which receiver he was about to throw to, but Jesus knew even before Landry did. Wrap your thoughts around that and chew on it awhile.
God says in Genesis 8:21 NIV, “Every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood…” So, where’s my hope in all of this? Do I throw up my hands and give in to my natural instincts of evil? My hope is found in Psalm 51. I can pray each verse. “Purify me from my sin and I will be clean.” “Wash me clean from my guilt.” “Because of your great compassion.” “Restore to me the joy of my salvation.” “Renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
I no longer have to try and hide my thoughts from God because the blood Jesus shed for me on the cross cleanses me from all my evil inclinations. He calls me to dwell on thoughts that are true, noble, right pure, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. These are what I am to think on. He calls me to follow Him not because He can perform miracles, but because I love Him and believe in Him, and because I believe then I will see the great and wonderful things He does for me.