Posted: June 19, 2023
Written by: Thomas Kilian
Read time: 5 mins 7 secs
One time, Jesus was not excited about a crowd's belief. Imagine if Jesus did not want his crowd to spread the news about his work. Well, that happened in the book of John, chapters 2 and 3. We should consider this passage because not all belief is created equal. We need the right belief. Do you know what belief you have in Christ? Let us answer that.
"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 2:23-25
The crowd that Jesus is before believes in him. Yet, Jesus does not entrust himself to them. In other words, Jesus is cautious and does not entrust his heart to them. He simply is not excited by their belief.
Let us continue to chapter three:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." — John 3:1-6
Nicodemus, a ruler of the people, comes to Jesus with his belief. He comes alone to meet with Jesus because he has belief. He knows that God empowers Jesus. That is his personal belief. Jesus' response to that belief is, "OK. Great. Submit to my command. You must be born again. You must die to the world and be born above as a spiritual man. You need to start life over again and change your ways. Be baptized!"
To have faith in Jesus is more than just a belief. Faith compels us to entrust ourselves to Christ's ways. Then, he entrusts us with his kingdom.
Our passages have many lessons, and I will discuss just several of them below.
1. Jesus knows the most, and he matters the most.
Jesus is the only person that knows the most. He knows what is in man's heart. He knows you and what is in you—even the hairs on your head by number. Yes, Jesus knows you more than you know yourself. Jesus is the only person you need to listen to, he knows everything, and he knows best. Jesus knows whether or not you have saving faith. This reality should keep us honest and humble before God and also others. </span><br><strong>2. What Jesus says about you is true of you.
While the crowds believed that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus saw their heart's belief was misplaced and not the belief that leads to obedience. Many may say they believe in Christ without actually wanting His Lordship over them. Since Jesus knows what is in man's heart, he knew the crowds who had faith in Him as Lord and those who only believed in His work. So, if we profess Christ's work and life as true but deny it in our lives, God knows our true belief. What Jesus says of you trumps what you say about yourself
3. Sharing your belief in Christ with others may not be your act of worship to God.
While you may evangelize and disciple, it is possible to have the desire to gain man's praise. In other words, we may gain a good reputation but not have a relationship with Christ. Some preachers and teachers talk about Christ, but their hearts desire to be praised and patted on the back for their "good works," "sacrifice," and spirituality. Some of the most disingenuous and jealous people I have met are those in Christian leadership. They talk about the number of seats filled, the celebrities and authors they know, and their degrees. They do not want to be seen with a common Christian at a common church. They preach and teach, but with such a lust for the glory of man, they are not worshiping God. — This is why Jesus did not give himself to the Jewish crowd in John 2-3. They would have been witnesses, sharing the news of Jesus' work with their friends, yet Jesus says, "No, thank you. I do not need your help because you will praise me as a man of status to bolster your own." As leaders for Christ, we need to be careful not to seek reputation over truth.
"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. 'I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.'" - Revelation 3:1
"Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand." - Malachi 1:10
His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.'"
- Mathew 25:23
4. You cannot seek God and seek man's glory.
What I like about Nicodemus is how he sought Jesus in the dark. In a quiet way, he draws near Christ. Perhaps Nicodemus does not want to be associated with Jesus yet. Perhaps he did not want to bear witness to Jesus because he understood he would lose his influence to lead people. Perhaps he does not want his Jewish congregants to praise him as a celebrity for being with Jesus. Whatever it may have been, his motive is not to be seen. Just like no one knew where Nicodemus was, no one but him and Jesus knew what was in the heart of Nicodemus. He could have gone to Jesus in the light of day and would most likely be esteemed for being seen with Jesus. However, Nicodemus wanted to seek where God's glory was because he was not looking for man's glory.
"But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." — Matthew 6:6
When we have faith in Jesus, we entrust ourselves to Christ's ways, and Christ entrusts us with His kingdom.
Questions for reflection
If I interviewed 5 friends of yours. Imagine what people would write about you.
If I interviewed God? What would he say about you?
If these are two separate things, then it's reputation over truth.