We have here an account of the success, the poor success, of Christ’s preaching and miracles at Jerusalem, while he kept the passover there. Observe,
I. That our Lord Jesus, when he was at Jerusalem at the passover, did preach and work miracles. People’s believing on him implied that he preached; and it is expressly said, They saw the miracles he did. He was now in Jerusalem, the holy city, whence the word of the Lord was to go froth. His residence was mostly in Galilee, and therefore when he was in Jerusalem he was very busy. The time was holy time, the feast-day, time appointed for the service of God; at the passover the Levites taught the good knowledge of the Lord (2 Chron. 30:22), and Christ took that opportunity of preaching, when the concourse of people was great, and thus he would own and honour the divine institution of the passover.
II. That hereby many were brought to believe in his name, to acknowledge him a teacher come from God, as Nicodemus did (John 3:2), a great prophet; and, probably, some of those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem believed him to be the Messiah promised, so ready were they to welcome the first appearance of that bright and morning star.
III. That yet Jesus did not commit himself unto them (John 2:24): ouk episteuen heauton autois—He did not trust himself with them. It is the same word that is used for believing in him. So that to believe in Christ is to commit ourselves to him and to his guidance. Christ did not see cause to repose any confidence in these new converts at Jerusalem, where he had many enemies that sought to destroy him, either, 1. Because they were false, at least some of them, and would betray him if they had an opportunity, or were strongly tempted to do so. He had more disciples that he could trust among the Galileans than among the dwellers at Jerusalem. In dangerous times and places, it is wisdom to take heed in whom you confide; memneso apistein—learn to distrust. Or, 2. Because they were weak, and I would hope that this was the worst of it; not that they were treacherous and designed him a mischief, but, (1.) They were timorous, and wanted zeal and courage, and might perhaps be frightened to do a wrong thing. In times of difficulty and danger, cowards are not fit to be trusted. Or, (2.) They were tumultuous, and wanted discretion and management. These in Jerusalem perhaps had their expectations of the temporal reign of the Messiah more raised than others, and, in that expectation, would be ready to give some bold strokes at the government if Christ would have committed himself to them and put himself at the head of them; but he would not, for his kingdom is not of this world. We should be shy of turbulent unquiet people, as our Master here was, though they profess to believe in Christ, as these did.
IV. That the reason why he did not commit himself to them was because he knew them (John 2:25), knew the wickedness of some and the weakness of others. The evangelist takes this occasion to assert Christ’s omniscience. 1. He knew all men, not only their names and faces, as it is possible for us to know many, but their nature, dispositions, affections, designs, as we do not know any man, scarcely ourselves. He knows all men, for his powerful hand made them all, his piercing eye sees them all, sees into them. He knows his subtle enemies, and all their secret projects; his false friends, and their true characters; what they really are, whatever they pretend to be. He knows them that are truly his, knows their integrity, and knows their infirmity too. He knows their frame. 2. He needed not that any should testify of man. His knowledge was not by information from others, but by his own infallible intuition. It is the infelicity of earthly princes that they must see with other men’s eyes, and hear with other men’s ears, and take things as they are represented to them; but Christ goes purely upon his own knowledge. Angels are his messengers, but not his spies, for his own eyes run to and fro through the earth, 2 Chron. 16:9. This may comfort us in reference to Satan’s accusations, that Christ will not take men’s characters from him. 3. He knew what was in man; in particular persons, in the nature and race of man. We know what is done by men; Christ knows what is in them, tries the heart and the reins. This is the prerogative of that essential eternal Word, Heb. 4:12, 13. We invade his prerogative if we presume to judge men’s hearts. How fit is Christ to be the Saviour of men, very fit to be the physician, who has such a perfect knowledge of the patient’s state and case, temper and distemper; knows what is in him! How fit also to be the Judge of all! For the judgment of him who knows all men, all in men, must needs be according to truth.
Now this is all the success of Christ’s preaching and miracles at Jerusalem, in this journey. The Lord comes to his temple, and none come to him but a parcel of weak simple people, that he can neither have credit from nor put confidence in; yet he shall at length see of the travail of his soul.