22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.—John 2:22–23 (emphasis mine)
The two scenes of the temple cleansing end with the disciples “remembering” (vv. 17, 22). Their remembering sets up a contrast, not only with what has preceded, but with what is next introduced.
In the first instance, the disciples remembering is set against the sellers and money changers on one side, and the authorities’ questioning on the other. While the sellers are violating Scripture, the disciples come to remember it.
Second, their remembering is set again in contrast again with the authorities questioning and then with the crowds “believing.” The disciples’ remembering was a believing. The crowd’s believing was the kind that would forget. Not all believing is believing. The authorities demand a sign for belief. The crowds believe for a sign. Saving faith is the result of the work of God within a man. It matters not what wonders are done without. Remember Pharaoh?
Some of you question. You don’t believe in Jesus. You are outright opposed to Him. You might be religious. You might believe in God. You believe some good things about Christ. But as to the Scriptures’ central claims, you demand a sign. In some ways, yours is a healthier state, for you know how you stand in relation to the Christ of the Bible. But as creation testifies that there is a God and that you stand under His wrath, so too Scriptures testify that Jesus is the Christ and that there is grace for sinners if you would receive Him.
Do not demand a sign as though you were the authority. Bow before the one with all authority. He has spoken. He has spoken with all authority. He has spoken with a self-authenticating authority by His holy word. Your problem isn’t in your head. It is in your heart. The problem isn’t the absence of information in your mind, but the presence of arrogance in you heart.
Others though, your religion has all the right external markers. You come to the right place—the temple of the living God, the church of God with Christ as her head. You don’t question. You look to Bible and its signs and its wonders. You believe, but alas, you don’t believe. You believe only in the Jesus you want to believe in. Do you not see the same arrogance then lies in your heart? Instead of denying Christ outright, you shape Him how you will.
For both, I pray you look to the Scriptures now, that you bow under them, that you sit under the Spirit’s teaching, and that you not only learn who Christ is, but that you believe in Christ, that you entrust your soul to Him.
Who is this Jesus?
He is the zealous Son of the Father. Yes, there is grace in Christ, but know there is also anger, wrath, and judgment. Jesus will not compromise His love of His Father for His love of sinners. You cannot assume His love and redemption. Salvation was purchased by judgment. If you don’t trust in the one who bore judgment, you will bear it yourself. Jesus not only is the bearer of the judgment of God, He is the bringer of the judgment of God.
He is the temple that was destroyed by man, but raised for our salvation. Man in sin slew Him. God in grace raised Him. By His resurrection, the Father declared Jesus to be His Son. The verdict of man didn’t stick. The verdict of God lives eternal. Christ alone is the meeting place of God and man. He is the High Priest. He is the Lamb of God. He is the Temple. Only in Christ may sinners draw near to the Holy God of heaven, and in Christ, they draw near as sons.
He is the Passover Lamb slain for the people of God that judgment might pass over them. He is spotless, precious, perfect sacrifice. He is the substitute. Having no sin of His own, He bore the sin of others.
He is the Life. They destroyed the temple, but He raised it up. The darkness cannot conquer the light. The grave cannot keep Life in its belly. He is the resurrection.
He is the knower of men. He knows you as he knows these men. He knows you as he knew Nathanael. He knows not only who you are, but He knows who you will be, as He knew of Peter. He knows the sin and depravity and wickedness that are in your heart.
If you now know something of the truth of who Christ is, and thus something of the truth of who you are—flee to Him! Follow Him. Do not question. Do not believe in Him as you wish Him to be. Believe in Him as He is, and you will have eternal life.