“What’s In a Man?”

(John 2:23-25)

Sermon Preached by Joshua Dykes on February 20th, 2022

Good Morning! I hope all of you are doing well this morning; I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to be worshiping God with His saints this morning. If you are a visitor, we welcome you here. We ask that you please fill out a card on the seat in front of you as was mentioned in the announcements, and if you’re from this area, we hope that you can study with us and choose us to be your Church home.

Now, I must confess, this is my first time speaking here at Swartz Creek for a Sunday morning worship service. I have spoken a couple times on Sunday evening, but never on Sunday morning. I also must confess that as a result, I am a little nervous being before you this morning. However, I am certain that God will give me the strength to say what I need to say, but before we go any further, I am going to ask that we pray to our Father.

[[SAY THE PRAYER]]

The title for this sermon is “What’s In A Man?” If you have your Bibles with you, our scripture (which was just read to us a while ago) is from the gospel of John, chapter 2 beginning in verse 23. Before we jump into our study, I would like for us to reread this scripture.

“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.”

Now, what we are going to do is we are going to examine this text, but we will do so by dividing this sermon into three different parts. After we examine this text, we will then connect this text to our lives by drawing out practical application that we can take home. 

HUMAN BELIEF

I first want us to think about Human Belief. John 2:23 states that “many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.” 

It is a truth that it is hard to believe or accept any truth in today’s society. We can turn on the news and see all kinds of different information and “facts” and it makes it hard to believe anything stated by anyone. In post-communist countries like Russia, Ukraine, Romania, and Hungary… it was hard for citizens to accept or believe anything that their governments would state. And that was because for so long all they had heard was lies and half-truths. Similarly, the Jews had heard lies and truths for hundreds of years before the Messiah entered into this world. They had been taught that Jesus was coming into the world to restore the glory of the physical kingdom of Israel! And that is why when Jesus came, there were so many who refused or hesitated to believe that He was the Messiah, because of hundreds of years of false facts. This kind of belief I am going to give the term hesitant belief. It is belief that originates from doubt. This is the kind of belief that Thomas had. He would not believe that Christ was resurrected. It didn’t matter who witnessed Jesus risen from the dead, if he did not see the nail-pierced hands of a living Christ in person, he was not going to believe. However, Thomas’ stubbornness would later be corrected when Jesus did in fact come to Thomas and He showed Thomas the nail-pierced hands. Thomas believed, but his belief was one of hesitance.

There is a second kind of belief that exists and it is the one in which mankind believes everything. Growing up, my brother would always pull the classic prank on me by pointing at the ceiling and saying that gullible was written on it, or he would point at my feet and say “Watch out! Your shoes are tied very well!” A good example of this gullible belief is found in Exodus 32, when the Hebrews desire gods as Moses is before the one true God on Mt. Sinai, and Aaron builds a golden calf for them to worship. They KNOW that the golden calf was forged by the hands of man, yet they choose to worship it anyways. I call this kind of belief credulous belief. A belief or faith that stands on nothing.

But in John 2, we see neither one of these categories of belief. Jesus Christ had proved that he was in fact the One sent from God. They believed because they saw the signs. Now, before we talk about what was wrong with their belief, I first want to note a few things that are worth commending. These people sought evidence for Jesus being sent from God, and Jesus Christ gave it to them. What were they supposed to do with that? We need to understand and recognize that they believed that Jesus was of God. They did not have a hesitant belief, they did not have a credulous belief, they had credible belief. They saw the evidence and came to the right conclusion. Unfortunately, for many today, the evidence is abundantly clear, yet too many refuse to accept and believe that Jesus was sent to this world to be a King. We need to offer some kind of commendation to the group mentioned in verse 23, because at least they believed when many did not. As we consider our faith and belief, we need to be sure that our faith is not blind, but that it exists because we have seen the evidence. Do we believe only because our parents taught us to believe? Do we believe only because of the social network within the Church? Or do we believe in God because we have experienced the son?!

In Hebrews 11:1-3, a chapter a lot of us are likely familiar with, the Holy Spirit through the author tells Christians struggling with their confidence and with their belief in Jesus what true faith is.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

The author states that that which we have faith in is something we cannot see. We cannot see the future, yet we have enough faith that we can go onto an elevator and believe because of past experience or others’ experiences with elevators that it is safe and that we can go up and down between floors of a building. Belief and faith relies on evidence and experience. Throughout the rest of Hebrews 11, we see examples of individuals of the Old Testament living by true faith! However much credible faith we have in individuals of the Bible or of things in this world, we ought to consider how much credible evidence we have for Jesus as the Christ and our savior. Pay close attention to Hebrews 12:1-3.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

Jesus Christ is the founder and perfecter of our faith! What does this mean? Some translations, instead of saying “founder” will use the word “author” or “originator” or “pioneer”. The Greek word is used many times in scripture and it refers to a beginning or a foundation. Jesus is the founder and foundation of our faith! The individuals in John 2:23-25 believed that Jesus was God sent, a foundation was laid because of the miracles and signs that they had done! But as we will discuss in the next portion of our lesson, their faith, though founded by Christ, was not not perfected.

COMMERCIAL DEVOTION

Although this group could be commended because they had credible belief that Jesus was God-sent, I want us to now segway into the next part of my lesson, and I want us to talk about Commercial Devotion. These people might have had faith in Jesus as a God-sent man because of His miracles and signs, but where truly was their hearts? They saw the works of Christ and believed, but something kept Jesus from entrusting Himself to them. Read again with me the last part of verse 23 through verse 24.

“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.”

What kept the Christ from entrusting himself to them? What does this concept of entrusting even mean? The greek word for entrust is episteuen and it comes from the greek root pistis meaning faith. This literally means that Jesus did not trust or believe in the depth of these individuals’ faith. In addition, in verse 24, we see that Jesus did not believe in these individuals because “he knew all people.”

Now, what about mankind made Jesus not trust them? There are a few things I can come up with off the top of my head, but I want us to recall the belief that they had. They had believed because they saw the signs that he was doing. I argue that it wasn’t because of their belief that Jesus didn’t want to stay in their midst. Because we know he did signs so that they would believe (John 20:30-31). 

To gather an example of maybe why Jesus did not want to be around individuals who only believed in Him because of His works and miracles, maybe we should consider Luke 17:11-19. Luke writes:

“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.””

Devotion to God. When we come together on the first day of the week as a body, we do so, acting on our founded belief, to offer worship and devotion to God. We come together as a body, coming to mature ourselves and perfect our faith in Christ Jesus. But I offer this quick question of self-reflection – is that really why we are here? These men, all nine of them came to be healed, but only one of them came back to offer praise!! I do not doubt one bit that the other nine believed in Jesus, and that he was a healer sent from God! But only one man, a man who the Jews would have seen as a dog, came back to give to Jesus what was on his heart. When we come to worship God, where is our inner man?! Did we come to perfect our faith and praise the one who endured the cross, or are we here because we are seeking something else?!

((Pause to let it sink in))

Let us also not forget the other side of this, that Jesus had done signs and wonders in front of those who would NOT believe. Consider what Matthew writes both in Matthew 12 and in Matthew 16. I would ask that you turn in your Bible to Matthew 16, I will read verses 1-4.

“And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.”

Jesus is saying that he could stay in the midst of these Pharisees and Sadducees and perform all the signs that he had already performed, yet they still wouldn’t believe! They had hesitant faith and a commercial devotion rooted in greed and selfishness. 

I want us to think about this, though. Can we ourselves tell what the motivation of our devotion to God is? Are we here because we have to be here? Are we here this morning SOLELY because of what we can get out of worship? Are we here because we believe that sainthood will result in some kind of prosperity here on earth? Or are we here because our heart trusts in and loves the Lord? Christ demands a devotion that stems from within us, and he knows that which is in us. 

WHAT’S IN A PERSON?

And this brings me to the last thing I want us to draw from the text, and this point comes in the form of a question: What’s in a person?

When I was writing this sermon, this was probably the hardest part for me to write. It wasn’t the hardest for me to write because of the depth I had to go in my studying, but it was the hardest part because it caused me to do much self-reflection. When we consider what’s in a human being – I’m talking emotionally, mentally, and spiritually – we really have to get introspective. What is inside you and what is inside me?

One thing that we need to consider about God is that He knows absolutely everything! Nothing slips past God almighty. Our sins, all of them are known by God. In Psalms 139, we read that God knows all of our actions and everything that we do. But I want you to pay attention closely to Psalm 139 verses 1 and 2.

“O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.”

Just as the Lord knows the actions that we do on the outside, whether in public or in private, He also knows our thoughts! He knows what is on the inside! When we read John 2 and we get to verse 24, we see that Jesus knows all people, but in verse 25, it clarifies how extensive Jesus’ knowledge of us is. “And (he) needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” Jesus did not need someone to be a witness to Him concerning mankind! So again, that begs the question, what exists within mankind that God already knows about?

In this sermon, I want us to talk about three things that God knows that exist within a man. To avoid being vague, we are going to avoid diving into terms such as our “thoughts” or “hearts” or “souls.” In order to gain application, we need to be specific and use terms that we can better understand. 

The three inner parts of humanity I want us to grasp that Jesus knows are as follows: our desires, our troubles, and our sincerity. 

Let’s talk about Human Desires. God knows what our desires are. The simplest definition of the word Desire is “a strong feeling of want.” Our wants, God knows all of them. However, when I talk about our desires, let us not think about what we want for our birthdays on special occasions, I want us to think deeply about our most inner wants. 

What is your desire? Is your desire to be closer to God, or do you have a desire that is drawing you away from Him? Consider James 1:13-15,

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

Every single person in this auditorium has some kind of desire that can get in the way of devotion and service. We each have a desire that makes us enemies of each other as well as enemies of God! James 4:1-4

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Jesus Christ knows what is within you. What is your desire? Do you want what God wants, or do you covet and envy? Do you seek God’s will, or do you seek your own?

I now want us to talk about Human Troubles. We have a God that knows our inner troubles! When we meet on the first day of the week, we each meet as troubled individuals. Every single one of us has our own battles, our own anxieties, our own stressful situations, and our own spiritual slumps that we are going through. But we serve a God that knows our troubles, and by knowing our struggles and difficulties, he offers sure comfort. Consider what the prophet Isaiah writes in Isaiah 35:3-4 concerning the strength the Lord provides to the troubled.

“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.””

What is your trouble? Is your trouble the anxiety that consumes you day after day after day? Jesus does not need you to bear witness about your inner trouble, though he does want you to go to Him in prayer (Philippians 4:6), God already knows what your trouble is! But let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ will guard your inner being with peace.

What is another inner trouble that you possess? Is it guilt or shame? Jesus knows the guilt and shame that stains your conscience! Hebrews 9:13-14

“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will be the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

If you have a guilty conscience or shame in your life, remember Christ’s sacrifice for you! The love that God poured onto you and the mercy that He showed to you through the sacrifice of His son. Jesus needs no witness to tell him of what is inside you, because he already knows! Jesus already knows, not just because of His divine nature, but also because he became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Did you know that Jesus had some inner troubles of His own? Being troubled comes with being human. Just before Jesus is handed over to the authorities but one of his own apostles, Jesus prays. Luke 22:41-44

“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Jesus knows what is in man. Being in the flesh, he endured the sufferings, temptations, and hardships that man had to endure, but he took it one step further by dying for everyone’s sin though he was perfect. Never forget that God knows your troubles. 

And lastly, I want us to know that God knows our sincerity. Sincerity is the state of possessing an honest mind. This can be coupled with our desire, because God knows if we are sincere in our desire to gather with the saints on the first day of every week. God knows the sincerity of one’s heart in worship. Consider the parable of the prayer of the Pharisee versus the prayer of the Tax Collector as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Luke 18, beginning in verse 10.

““Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’””

Now perhaps the Pharisee was sincere in his prayer to God, and he really did want to communicate with Him, but we see that his prayer was more about himself as opposed to praising God or thanking Him. The Tax Collector, Jesus states in verse 14, went to his house justified rather than the other! The Tax Collector offered to God a prayer from the heart! He didn’t utter memorized words or phrases, he didn’t put others down, but rather stated humbly what his request was, and that was for the mercy of God. 

God knows our sincerity. He knows the sincerity and motive of your giving, whether or not you do it to be seen by others. He knows the sincerity of the love you have for your spouse and for your neighbors. God knows your sincerity.

CLOSURE

In closing, maybe there are some of you here this morning who are worried about what is inside you. Maybe an anxiety or a guilty conscience has seared your mind and you just need peace within yourself. Jesus Christ can give you that inner peace, and if you haven’t accepted him, now is the right time. Maybe you have examined your motive and your sincerity, and you have come to realize that it is in the wrong place. What you have lived for all along was for you, and not for the Lord. We’d be happy to pray with you and for you, that you may also have an inner peace.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. What is your heart telling God this morning? If you have any need, any need at all, please come forward as we stand and sing.

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