Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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Yesterday, Brother Damien and his family dropped by for a short visit, and while here, he pointed out a verse that we have all read many times but, if you are like me, have never really thought about. It is from the Gospel of John:
39. Then, again, they tried to seize him, but he escaped out of their hand.
40. And he went again to the other side of Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and he remained there.
41. And many came to him, and they said, “Though John performed no miracle, every single thing John said about this man was true.”
Now, we know that whatever John said was true, but what were those things? The above verses from John make it seem as though he said a lot about Jesus, and he may have, but if he did, the Gospel writers did not tell us.
One of the very few things that we know John said about Jesus is that he would baptize “with the holy Ghost and fire”. The people who excitedly declared that everything John said about Jesus was true did not know that statement from John was true because Jesus, at that time, had not baptized anyone with the holy Ghost and fire.
Another statement John made about Jesus was that “he was before I was.” The people did not know that was true, either, because no one yet knew about the pre-existent Son of God.
Another statement John made about Jesus was that he was “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” The people did not know that statement was true, either, of course.
According to what we find in the Gospels, that is just about all that John said about Jesus. He did say that Jesus was greater than he was, and the people could have known that was true, just seeing the miracles that Jesus performed. But what else did John say about Jesus that they knew was true? What were the “all things” to which these people were referring, the things they said they now knew were true?
If John said about Jesus only the things found in the Gospels, then what we find in John 10:39-41 is just another case of people becoming over-excited and saying things in their excitement that they would not think or say at a later date. Jesus certainly took this proclamation of faith with a grain of salt, so to speak, as he did every confession of faith in him that people offered, even the confessions of faith offered by his disciples:
30. We know now that you know everything, and you have no need for anyone to question you; by this, we believe that you came from God.”
31. Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?
32. Behold, an hour is coming, and has now come, when you’ll be scattered, each to his own house, and you’ll leave me to be alone, and yet, I’m not alone because the Father is with me.
Jesus was wise. He knew that no man’s testimony can be trusted who does not have the Spirit, even the testimony of a comparatively good man. The Bible makes this very clear:
23. While he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in his name, seeing his miracles that he performed.
24. But as for Jesus, he did not trust himself to them because he knows all men,
25. and because he had no need for anyone to testify about man, for he knew what was in man.
Let us follow Jesus’ example and trust no testimony of man until the Spirit has born witness to his faith. If we accept the testimony of those who do not have the Spirit, if we do not wait for the Spirit to testify of the genuineness of a person’s faith, we will be trusting our souls to something Jesus never trusted — what man says.
What the “all things” are which the people in John 10 claimed that John the Baptist said about Jesus, we cannot say. But we can say that whatever those things were (if they were at all), the people did not really know they were true, no matter what they claimed to know. The sure knowledge of the Son of God came only through the Spirit that was poured out on the day of Pentecost, and none of those people had it.