As a Christian in ministry for over 30 years I have become an astute observer of human nature and behavior. The older and more mature I become, the more I understand the scripture in John 2:23-25:
“…many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.”
Scripture teaches us that even the godly fail at crucial points during their time on the earth.
The following are some reasons I believe Jesus did not fully trust and rely upon any human being.
The historical track record of human behavior as recorded in Scripture
In Genesis 3 Adam denied the commandments of God so he could stay aligned with his wife’s desires (Genesis 3:1-19). Thus, we see from the beginning that man would sell out the righteousness of God for the pleasures he receives from being connected as one flesh with his spouse.
In Genesis 4 we see how Adam’s son Cain killed his own brother in a jealous rage because he didn’t receive the affirmation he desired from God for his offering. (Abel was the first person to die for his faith!)
Further on in biblical history, we see Noah become drunk and lie naked in the presence of his sons after they landed safely when the waters of the great flood dissipated (Genesis 9:20-27). Even after this great victory of faith, which resulted in the salvation of his family and the preservation of the human race, Noah could not be trusted to walk in righteousness!
Genesis 11:1-9 shows that when humankind unites they rebel against the Lord’s authority and attempt to establish a religion that reaches to heaven built upon human autonomy.
Abraham, that great father of the faith, played the coward when, because of a fear of being killed, he lied to King Abimelech and said Sarah his wife was only his sister. This almost resulted in Abimelech committing adultery with his wife (read Genesis 20)! Even though Abraham was a great man of faith, he intentionally allowed a man to seize his wife for an adulterous relationship!
Isaac, his son, fell into the same deception and also lied to King Abimelech, saying Rebecca his wife was merely his sister. He did this to protect his own life (Genesis 26:7-11).
Jacob, the father of twelve sons that became the nation of Israel, was well-known for being a liar and a deceiver (Genesis 27:18-30).
Furthermore, all of Jacob’s sons (except Benjamin) were participants in selling their brother Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37:12-26). Judah, the progenitor of King David and Jesus the Son of God, had a habit of sleeping with prostitutes (Genesis 38).
In the midst of the epic confrontation with Pharaoh, Moses didn’t even practice what he preached and made God angry enough to slay him, since he listened to his wife and did not circumcise his son Gershem. (Moses did this even though he commanded everyone else to circumcise their sons! Read Exodus 4:24-26.)
Aaron and Miriam, two of the top leaders who served under Moses, rebelled against him because he married an African woman (Numbers 12:1-8). Aaron, Moses’ trusted “number two” man in leadership, also led the children of Israel into idolatry while Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from God (Exodus 32:1-10).
King David, the greatest king of Israel who killed Goliath as well as being a person Jesus descended from, was guilty of murder and adultery ( 2 Samuel 11), was guilty of a sin so severe it cost the lives of seventy thousand Israelites (2 Samuel 24:1-17), and essentially lost all of his sons to the world. (Amnon raped his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13), Absalom killed Amnon and tried to steal the kingdom from David (2 Samuel 13, 15), Adonijah tried to steal the kingdom away from Solomon (1 Kings 1, 2), and Solomon apostatized because he loved many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1-13)).
In the New Testament, Peter, the leader of the early church, denied Christ three times, and later on was a hypocrite by pulling away from non-Jewish believers in the presence of Jewish believers (Mark 14:66-72; Galatians 2).
Judas Iscariot, one of the original twelve apostles of Christ, sold out Jesus for money and ended his life by suicide (Acts 1:15-20).
Paul, in his waning hours of life as a faithful apostle, said all of his leaders forsook him except Luke and Timothy (2 Timothy 4 :9-11). Regarding his fellow believers at Philippi, Paul said that all are self-centered and seek their own. Thus, he only had one authentic leader to send to that church (Philippians 2:19-24).
Lest any person think that Christians behave worse than other people in the world, take heed to the scripture that tells us God reveals sin in the Christian camp because He loves us (read also Hebrews 12:5-11) and that judgment begins first in the house of God--so what will become of the ungodly and the sinner (1 Peter 4:17-19)!
Scripture teaches us that God cannot find any person on the earth who seeks Him and does good apart from His saving grace (Psalm 14, Romans 3:10-25) and that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
As we examine the above mentioned reasons showing the untrustworthiness of humanity we find that:
1. Every person has their own competing interests that cause them to be self-centered and put themselves before all others--including their families and their God!
2. Every person has a sinful nature they are born into that causes them to be dead and helpless in regards to sinful tendencies (Ephesians 2:1-4; Psalm 51:5).
3. Every person listens to their impulses that give them the most pleasure, and will continue to obey those impulses until they believe following those impulses will result in pain. Thus, a person will turn to God if they deem that the joy of serving the Lord brings a greater return to them than the pleasures of sin that only last for a season (Hebrews 11:25).
4. People cannot control circumstances. Even close friends and associates will act selfishly and go into “survival mode” betraying others when they are in particular crisis situations. I have seen even the closest friends and family members betray their friends, families, and churches when in crisis mode. This is why you really don’t know your spouse, children, Christian leaders, or friends until you experience a crisis in a time of spiritual warfare. Everyone is your friend in a time of peace and prosperity; only a few will be with you in a time of testing (read Luke 22:28-30).
Who are the people we can most likely trust, even in a crisis situation?
First of all, we must look at the second of the Great Commandments in which Jesus tells us to love our neighbors AS WE LOVE OURSELVES (Matthew 22:37-40). Thus, we are supposed to love ourselves. This means we are to be emotionally healthy enough to make the correct choices in life regarding our faith, families, and responsibilities in ministry.
But, the most trustworthy of all people are those who are able to take it one step further and who actually love others even more than they love themselves! This is what Jesus did when He loved His Father so much He was willing to die on the cross. This is what He told us was the greatest barometer for the highest form of love. Those with the highest form of love are those WHO LAY DOWN THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR FRIENDS (John 15:13 and 1 John 3:16). David loved God more than his own life (Psalm 63:3) and so did the faithful martyrs of the faith who are willing to suffer horrible deaths rather than deny their Lord (read Hebrews 10:32-34 and 11:36-38).
This kind of love, commitment, and maturity should become our highest aspiration in this life, because only when we lose our lives will we find them (Mark 8:34-35)!