His Character is Different than Ours

There is a curious passage at the end of The Gospel of John chapter 2. It does not appear to have a direct connection either to the story before it or the famous one that follows. Yet, it is a necessary glimpse into both, as well as an insight into Jesus and those who follow him.

John 2:23-25 says that Jesus continued to do many signs and many people saw them and believed. Then it tells us that Jesus did not entrust himself to human beings because he knew what was in them and did not need anyone to explain the hearts of men and women to him. It is not apparent in most English translations, but when John says that “many believed” in him and then that Jesus did not “entrust himself” to them, he uses the same word for “believed” and “entrust”. We could easily say that people trusted Jesus, but Jesus did not trust people.

Why?

The simplest answer may be the most insightful: because his character is different than ours.

Jesus is God in flesh. Jesus carried the perfections of God’s moral character, wisdom, and power into human flesh with him. While Jesus choose to “empty himself” (Phil 2:6-7) of some of those privileges while walking around on dusty earth, his perfections did not suddenly tarnish. His character is still without shadow (James 1:17). There is no unexpected turn in the corridors of relationship with Christ where you find a dark alley or suspicious doorway, behind which he is suddenly unloving or duplicitous or cruel. He is love and his love is steadfast and perfect. As much as it stretches our rational capacities, Jesus is perfectly gracious and merciful while also being perfect in judgement and justice.

There is nothing not to trust in Jesus.

On the other hand, there is plenty to not trust in human beings. We are broken souls in human flesh. Whatever power or wisdom we have attained is stunted or occasionally helpful. Our characters are tarnished from the start, making trust an attainment, not a natural capacity. We may be trustworthy to a point, but we cannot carry the weight of another’s soul, meaning, or hopes. Our characters are full of shadows and unlit corridors. We do not even know what is around some of our own corners.

Emily Dickenson wrote in One Need Not Be A Chamber To Be Haunted,

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,

One need not be a house;

The brain has corridors surpassing

Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting

External ghost,

Than an interior confronting

That whiter host.

There is no benefit to be gained by refusing trust in Jesus Christ and placing it in anything else. And it is a false choice when we think we can either trust Christ or not put our trust in anything. We will trust. The only question is in whom or in what.

With whom will you replace the Creator of all Things? Your favorite politician? The philosopher you enjoyed reading in college? A political or economic scheme that promises a this-worldly utopia if only enough people vote the right way and give enough money? Yourself? Can you trust yourself to not sin by tomorrow at noon?

There is no rational substitute for putting your trust in Jesus Christ.

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