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“But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.” (John 2:24-25)
As I was reading the news today, I came across this line regarding embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: Mr. Cuomo, our politics reporter writes, “finds himself sliding from hero-level worship to pariah-like status with the kind of astonishing speed that only the friendless suffer.”
Politics and morality aside, that quote made me think of Jesus. On the upcoming day we call Palm Sunday, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to a cheering throng shouting “Hosanna!”, convinced that he was the long-awaited Messiah who had come to overthrow their Roman oppressors. A few short days later, that same crowd was shouting “Crucify him!”, asking Pilate to release the murderer Barabbas instead of Jesus. “Hero-level worship to pariah-like status” indeed.
In John 2, Jesus is at the beginning of his public ministry, and as he performs some miracles, John tells us that many “believed in his name” (John 2:24). In response to this, John writes “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (John 2:24-25). It made no difference to Jesus whether the crowd was cheering for him or calling for his head. He knew what was in a man – which evidently did not impress him – and so he would not allow himself to be swayed by their opinion.
What if, like Jesus, our sole concern was to be faithful to the Father, no matter how people responded to our words and actions? What if, instead of worrying about public perception and opinion polls, we trusted that living to honor God and love our neighbor would in the end prove to be the best way to live? Jesus knew that people tend to be fickle and self-centered, and that their judgments are often not based on true wisdom. He did not let the praise of the crowd adjust His vision any more than the rejection of the masses. His eyes were on the Father, and His mission – to bring salvation to the world – would not be compromised.
Father, give us the same single-minded focus that Jesus had. May we not be swayed by the praise or condemnation of man, for we know that men’s hearts are fickle and self-centered and that their judgments are often not based on true wisdom. Lord, help us live our lives on mission, in line with the purpose you have given us to go and make disciples of all nations, and to be your witnesses to the ends of the earth. Amen!
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