Introduction: Struggles With Trust.
In a world of so many broken promises it can be hard to “believe” someone. So many of us have been wounded by empty promises. We have had friend who promised to always be there for us abandon us when things get really hard. We have had employers promise us promotions or bonuses only to see them go to someone else. We have seen family members betray us.
These wounds have left many of us with deep-rooted trust issues. We have grown skeptical of anyone who withholds information or a portion of themselves from us. We look at people with a glaring worrisome cynical eye when we hear the words, “Don’t you trust me?” Everything in our soul says, “NO! I don’t trust you.”
So many of us don’t want to live like this. We know we cannot have healthy relationships if we cannot learn to trust others. And even more important than that if our hurts are not open to “trust” then we can turn that “distrustful” heart posture toward God. That heart posture is more dangerous than all others. I think Jesus has some very helpful wisdom for us concerning these issues. Let’s stand together and read these 3 verses—READ John 2.23-25. My hope is this text will show us...Fully appreciating God entrusting His Son to us will restore our trust issues with one another.
1. Shallow Belief—John 2.23.
The first verse continues to reveal to us the setting of this account. But before we examine that let me review what has happened. At this point in the Gospel Jesus has gathered His first disciples, and John the Baptist has declared Jesus to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1.29). Eventually Jesus, His mother, family, and disciples are invited to a wedding in Cana. They attend the wedding together and Jesus performs His first miracle or sign by turning water into wine. The author, John, comments on this by saying, “This, the first sign of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believe in him” (John 2.11). After a few days away Jesus heads to Jerusalem for the Passover, and as He enters the Temple He sees how God’s house is full of irreverent people who are exploiting people through God’s law. Jesus gets violently upset because of how blasphemous these actions are. God is being MOCKED right on His front porch. So, Jesus cleans out the Temple. And when He was asked on what authority He did this Jesus tells them to look for a sign. The sign He tells them to look for is His bodily resurrection from the dead.
All of this is the context of our opening verse today. Therefore, the apostle John reminds us Jesus is still in Jerusalem during the time of the Passover. John 2.23 tells, “many believed in His name when they saw the signs that he was doing.” The only signs we have so far are the water into wine, which took place in a different city, and Jesus cleansing the Temple. So the primary sign we are left with is the cleansing of the Temple.
Isn’t that a bit odd for these people to be ready to believe Jesus after He has cleansed the Temple. But as I was thinking about it this week, isn’t it easy for us to get caught up in angry passionate rhetoric? Don’t we want leaders who we feel like they are saying what needs to be said or what we have always wanted to say? Instead of listening to the content of charismatic leaders we get caught up in their delivery. Instead of looking to leaders who will lead us toward sanctification, holiness, or righteousness, we want leaders who will make us feel good about ourselves.
The result of all of this, both in this story, and the story of our age is people who develop SHALLOW beliefs. Our beliefs become weak. What has Jesus just come out of addressing? Watered-down, self-centered, blasphemous, exploitive idolatrous worship. Jesus is not thankful for half-hearted weak worship. The greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Duet 6.5) Is this what we truly believe? When we believe something it means we trust it. When we believe in something we believe it will deliver on what it says it will deliver. This is why John says they believe in His name. To believe in someone’s name was to believe in their character—their attributes. To believe in someone’s name was to believe they are who they say they are.
2. True Belief —John 2.24-25.
But Jesus knows our hearts. We may be able to hide what we really believe before people, but we cannot from Jesus. Listen to what happens in the next few verses—READ John 2.24-25.
The word “entrust” in the original Greek is very closely related to the word “believe” in verse 23. John is doing a comparison contrast here. While there are many people who asserting that they “believe” in Jesus, John is telling us Jesus did not believe them. If Jesus is not willing to entrust Himself to us then we are utterly lost. Jesus cannot and will not be fooled. The scholar Bruce Milne says, “Jesus of all people will not be misled by outward professions of loyalty which do not involved true repentance and heart commitment.” (p. 70) The great preacher Paul Washer once said this at a conference down south:
“I know there are some of you who look around, and think, ‘Well, I saved, I look like everyone else in my [small group].’ What makes you think your [small group] is saved? ‘Well, I’m like my parents or [other people in my church], like the deacon or pastor.’ What does that matter? ‘Well, I think I’m saved.’ Well, there is a way that seems right unto man that leads unto death (Prov 14.12). ‘Well, I feel in my heart that I’m saved.’ Well, let me ask you a question, ‘Have you ever read the heart is deceitfully wicked who can know it?’ (Jer 17.9)…Well, I know that I’m saved…because everyone else told me as I was saved. Well, I’m telling you this, ‘What is the Word of God telling you?”—Paul Washer
The point I am trying to make here is twice John told us that Jesus knows people. Jesus really knows us. He knows every deep, dark, corner of your heart. Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. Therefore, if we want to see ourselves the way Jesus does we must begin to take to heart what Paul Washer is saying, “What is the Word of God telling you?” John says, “He knew all people, and needed no one to beat witness about man.”
We must not forget this the first Passover mentioned in the Gospel of John, but in the last one no one will still believe in Jesus. No, Jesus will be on the Cross dying alone, wrongfully accused, bearing the weight of the sins of the world, fully experiencing the wrath of God. Instead of belief there was mockery—the same thing that was already going on in the Temple.
Suffering is the crucible of true belief dear friends. That is what we see in the life our Savior, and it is all throughout the Scripture. When we are under the white-hot furnace of suffering that is when our true beliefs are revealed. Peter explains this to us:
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.—I Peter 1.6-7
At the beginning of the message I talked about how hard it is to trust other people. And I hoped we could find some way here to find a way to trust people or a pathway to restoring our trust. Friends, this is the plain honest truth. I say this as someone who has been repeatedly hurt, deeply wounded, time and time again by many people who I thought were for me. The only pathway to entrusting yourself to others is by realizing who are in this passage. When Jesus examines our lives, there is nothing in us, that would make Him want to entrust Himself to us. But in God’s loving abounding gracious merciful kindness He has entrusted His Son Jesus Christ to us through the preaching of the Gospel. God has repeatedly been hurt, deeply wounded in ways my feeble mind cannot even fathom, and yet He has entrusted Himself to us in the Gospel. The Gospel is the ironclad crowbar that can crack open any cold callous sealed shut heart that is struggling with trust.
Once that happens there are other wise principles that help govern what we can trust and we cannot trust. Friend, go back and examine the response of the disciples of Jesus to the cleansing of the Temple and the others. The disciples saw Jesus’ anger and were reminded of Scripture, but the others began to question Jesus’ authority. Who loves to put doubts in people’s heads? Who loves to question authority? Who loves to bring condemnation? Let’s not forget the strategy of the serpant with our first parents in the Garden. He loves to regularly ask, “Did God actually say?” Measure the voices you hear or you are listening to against the Word of God. This will help clue you in whether or not you can trust them. Finally, I Peter 2.23 tells us this, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” How can we trust again? By entrusting ourselves to Him who judges justly. At the end of the day our only hope, is the same only hope that Jesus had, namely, God. Are we fully appreciating what God has chosen to entrust to us today?