“Because of the miracles he did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many people were convinced that he was indeed the Messiah. But Jesus didn’t trust them, for he knew mankind to the core. No one needed to tell him how changeable human nature is!” (John 2:23-25 LB)
Many are the men who believe in God’s acts, but who remain fickle because they don’t know His ways. Many are they who are familiar with God’s house, but so unfamiliar with God’s heart. The Apostle Paul echoed the cause of the frequent mistrust he and the Lord Jesus had for men: “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:21).
Yes, the love of God believes the best of people, but at the same time, it is not naive. In his humanity, every man is weak, frail, and his heart often deceptive. Even the greatest of God’s servants have feet of clay. Even in man’s great moments, Christ must remain the focus. “I am more afraid of my own heart than of the Pope and all Cardinals,” Martin Luther said.
Multitudes followed Jesus. They heard his preaching gladly. They witnessed His mighty miracles. But they were fickle. One day they wanted to crown Him King and the next day they wanted to crucify Him. Jesus was constantly sifting the crowds. In the end when Jesus set His face like flint toward the cross and began speaking to them of the covenant (John 6:53-66) and of the identification they were to have with Him, the multitudes left along with some of His disciples. Even Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, rebuked Him for choosing the way of the cross. Jesus recognized the real source of this rebuke.
“Get behind me, Satan! You are in my way, an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men” (Mat 16:23 Amp.).
Beware of men who have no marks of the cross in their lives and preaching. They are diabolically aligned with the spirits of this age. They are “enemies of the cross whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame—who set their mind on earthly things” (Phil 3:18-19). They are self- deceived.
There is a great truth to be told here. The closer Jesus got to the cross, the less people stayed with Him. The disciples tried to guard Jesus’ life, but Jesus was guarding His death. If anything originated from man, Jesus wanted no part of it. “I receive not glory from men – I crave no human honor, I look for no mortal fame” (John 5:41 Amp).
Compare the nature and quality of Jesus versus the religious leaders of His day: “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:43). In life and ministry, what are you hoping to receive? What are you craving? What are you really looking for? What is it that you wish from men? Is it their smile? Or do you long for self-denial? Jesus was dead to human praise, human criticism, and human opinion.
Listen to the frequent conversations at Christian conventions. It’s all about men. It’s all about who this one is and who that one is, who did what, and who’s been where. Doesn’t it get nauseating at times? Have you ever looked with holy eyes at some of today’s most popular Christian magazines? It’s all about conferences and camp meetings, special people and special programs, and how much we are all doing for the Lord. I realize some of these things have their place, but in all of it, where is His face? Don’t you want to see Jesus? Doesn’t it disturb you when some mere mortal stands in the way? Hide us, oh God in the cross of Christ!
The real truth about most men is this: They don’t really know themselves as well as they think. We are never as submissive to God as we think we are. Even Paul near the end of his earthly life and ministry had to be broken so that he wouldn’t be puffed up with pride because of his many visions and revelations (2 Cor 12:7-9). Who do we think you are? Our only safeguard against pride is to walk in love toward God and toward man. Love never seeks its own.
True men are men of selfless love. Paul said of Timothy, “I have no one like him” (Phil 2:20) because he was not self-serving or self-seeking. Paul also commended another true man:
“…Honor men like him because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me” (Phil 2:29-30 NIV). Epaphroditus almost died through overwork to make up for the lack of service that the church gave to Paul. But here is the amazing thing about all this: Epaphroditus didn’t want the church to know! He was distressed because the church heard that he was sick. Perhaps they would have felt bad for not being able to provide the service he rendered. What pure love and servanthood was in this man! He was seeking not his own glory, but the glory of the One who sent Him.
Whose glory are you really seeking?