“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
I was asked about a passage yesterday that I don’t fully understand myself. Before I attempt it, I am reminded of one really cool thing about the bible. I have come to understand that I don’t have to figure out every question I have. Sure, some things make me want to investigate immediately, but there are others that just sit there. Realistically, who has time to answer every question? The more you dig, the more questions that arise. That’s the beauty of the bible – we’ll never exhaust our curiosity!
Another interesting thing is how we learn. If the opening verse is true, the Holy Spirit teaches us directly. Jesus himself quoted this prophecy from Isaiah 54:13 “All your children shall be taught by the Lord,” (John 6:45). I grew up being told that I must learn about God through a man who is trained by a church. This isn’t true. The bible is clear that God teaches me directly.
That’s not to say that I must ignore what others have to say. Indeed, God assigns some to be teachers. It does serve as a clear warning to compare the words of men to the words of scripture. The bible always trumps men, although some men will certainly try to persuade you otherwise. Likewise, it does not give us license to declare all our own interpretations as truth. We are human as well.
So how do you know what is true and what isn’t? Well, if we can rest on a couple assumptions, we can find comfort. First, we trust that God is truth and that there is no deceit or contradiction in him. Second, we trust that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, divine in nature. Both of these can be tested. Those who disagree may be found to be justifying sin; there is a reason they don’t want to trust God or his Word. I’ve found this to be true. I have no basis to doubt these assumptions. Do I always understand? No. Does there seem to be times when things of the bible contradict themselves? Certainly, but upon careful examination these are explained.
Having said all that, we can begin with the passage in question. First, some background. Early in Jesus’ ministry, he went to Jerusalem for the Passover. There, he cleansed the temple by throwing out the merchants and moneychangers. He made a lot of enemies, no doubt, doing that. Right after that, we have the feast and our passage. Then, right after, we find Nicodemus seeking and encountering Jesus at night. Remember that message? “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
John 2:23-25 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs 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.
A couple commentaries I looked at said this referred to an enthusiasm of the people rather than genuine belief. Being excited by miraculous signs does not mean turning one’s life over to God. Jesus knows the heart and did not trust these people.
These sources are far more educated in these matters than I am, but I wonder if it doesn’t mean something else. Sure, we see Jesus entrusting himself to others, namely the twelve disciples and particularly the three. But does Jesus even fully entrust them? Afterall, Jesus pointed out to Peter that while he does good things, he was evil in nature (Matthew 7:11).
So, we know that he didn’t trust those people at that first Passover in John. Perhaps he didn’t entrust himself to any man. That’s debatable. We can leave it at that. However, it does give us opportunity to examine the nature of man. Let’s see the progression:
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned –
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Revelation 19:7-8 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” –
Of course, the Bride is the church, and the church is made of up of individual believers (saints). So, it is true that our hearts are so stained by our own sin that even our good deeds are tainted so as to become sin as well (Isaiah 64:6). But…..somehow, for reasons God only knows, he has mercy on some of us and delivers us out of our bondage to sin and brings us to everlasting life.
That blows my mind!
Father, teach us, in your method, in your time, the mysteries of your ways. I look forward to sitting at Jesus’ feet and learning all that I have not learned while on this side of heaven. How cool will that be! Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers
Photo by Szilvia Basso on Unsplash