This is an article written by a friend of mine who is a missionary in a predominantly Muslim country. He is a dedicated believer, taking the Gospel to the lost nations of the world. I admire his dedication and appreciate the many lives that have been transformed by his service in the Gospel. This is a sermon that he preached at our church one Sunday morning. It was very challenging to me and I hope that it will be challenging to you.
The title of the message is “Why did Jesus not commit Himself to some of the people who believed in Him?”. It is based on a passage from the Gospel of John and then explained by using examples from the entire Gospel of John.
And as He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, at the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the miracles which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all and did not need that anyone should testify of man. For He knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25)
Jesus knows what is in the heart of every person.
Jesus knows what motivates us to have faith in Him. He knows if we have pure motives or not. He knows if we follow Him out of love, admiration, and appreciation or if we follow Him so that we can “get what we want”. The person, who has faith in Christ out of impure motives, getting what he or she wants instead of out of love and appreciation, does not have the kind of faith that leads to being born again. In this world there are many, many different types of “faith” but according to God there are only two types; the one that leads to being born again and all the rest. All the rest leave a person the same as when he or she started to have faith while faith that leads to being born again, fundamentally changes a person from the inside out. Which type of faith do you have? Why do you have faith in Jesus Christ? Is it based on pure or impure motives? Many of the people were following Jesus Christ just because He met their physical needs. They wanted to treat Jesus like Santa Claus or a personal Genie. In John chapter 6, He feeds the 5,000 so they want to follow Him, not because of the spiritual teachings that He offered but because they would get hungry again and they could “rub the lamp” or “send out a wish list” and Jesus would provide for them. Jesus is not like Santa Claus. He is not a personal genie. He met their physical needs at the moment to get their attention so that He could explain their spiritual needs and then show them how He could always meet those types of needs. They missed the point because their faith was not genuine. Later in John 6, Jesus did not say or do something that they liked so they just turned and walked away. He was not led by the desires of the crowd. He was interested in investing in those who had genuine faith. So, why do you follow Jesus? Do you view Him as a personal “sugar daddy” in heaven to meet your needs and desires? What are the results of your faith in Jesus, have you been born again because of it or are you the same as when you started “trusting in God”?
Jesus entrust Himself to those who have true (genuine) faith.
From this time many of His disciples went back into the things behind, and walked no more with Him. Then Jesus said to the Twelve, Do you also wish to go away? Then Simon Peter answered Him, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the Words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. (John 6:66-69)
From this passage, we see that many walked away because their faith was not genuine. It was not the faith that leads to being born again. On the other hand, twelve of those who were following Jesus, remained with Him. The question is why? Peter gave the answer in the previous passage. Jesus looked at them and said, “Did you not see everyone else leave? Don’t you want to go too?” Peter says, “Where are we going to go? You are the only One who has the Words of eternal life.” These men, with the exception of Judas, understood that Jesus was interested in the spiritual aspect of man’s life much more than the physical and they followed Him because He met their spiritual needs. Meeting the physical needs was just a perk. They were interested in a relationship with Jesus Christ more than their full bellies. This is the type of faith that leads to being born again and this is the person to whom Jesus entrusts Himself. Are you a person like this? Are you more interested in earthly or spiritual matters? Do you seek a genuine relationship with Christ above all else?
Their genuine faith is seen once again, in chapter 21. Remember, the other “followers” walked away when Jesus did not please them and they never returned. When Jesus was crucified, these eleven men who had genuine faith, scattered, even denied knowing Him. What makes them different from the other “followers”? They came back and dedicated themselves to obedience to Jesus for the rest of their lives. They continued to follow Him. That is what genuine faith does, even in moments of weakness or mistakes, genuine faith comes back and follows Christ.
Then when they broke fast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed My lambs. He said to him the second time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? He said to Him, Yes, Lord, You know that I love You. He said to him, Feed My sheep. He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He said to him a third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You. Jesus said to him, Feed My sheep. (John 21:15-17)
A person with genuine faith accepts Christ’s forgiveness and dedicates his life to Christ’s mission. He serves the people around him by taking the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, making them disciples of Jesus, teaching them how to obey and follow Christ, and challenging them to repeat the process.
The purpose of all of this is found in the last two verses of chapter 20 of the Gospel of John.
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25)
Jesus did many more things but what we have written down is enough to cause you to have faith, the kind of faith that leads to being born again. Do you have this kind of faith? Have you been born again?