Sermon: The Dead Faith of Sign-Seekers John 2.23.25

 The Dead Faith of Sign-Seekers

John 2.23.25

Primary Truth Taught- There is a faith in Jesus Christ that is not saving faith


The text we’re looking today is a troubling text. I pray that for each of us we are forced to do battle for our souls. This is a text that does not fit our parameters and boundaries of who Jesus is and what He is telling us here.

The modern church by in large has reduced the Gospel to an affirmation of Jesus. What I mean is, the person will tell the pastor that he/she wants to be saved and the pastor will say a simple prayer with them and then declare them to be Christians and tell them that they will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus.

Over the years, I’ve seen this time and time again. I’ve seen preachers tell people that their loved ones are in heaven because one time they were in a church service and raised their hand at the right time. I’ve witnessed pastoral manipulation, bullying, and other coercing to get a person to say yes, I want to be saved…the pastor then says, repeat this prayer after me and you will be saved.

Today, this passage before us is highly troubling for the modern view of salvation. The reason it is lies in the fact that the people in the text today had more faith than many in our churches today and Jesus still tells them in essence, their faith is not saving faith. Is it possible that many churches have it wrong? Is it possible that what is peddled, as Gospel today in many circles is not Gospel at all?

I want to say this morning that if you’ve come to Christ for any reason other than because He is worthy, glorious and because He alone is your treasure and portion forever then this passage should be troubling for you as well.

We live in a day when the Gospel has been perverted into health and wealth. Jesus has been reduced to a means to a better life and not our treasure forever whether times are good or times are bad.


Human Need Met

Our need as humans is to love and treasure Jesus Christ above ALL other things. We must adore Him alone and not the stuff He gives us, even the blessings He gives us. Is Jesus all-satisfying to you? Is He alone your hope? If everything was stripped away would you still adore and hold Jesus as precious or would you shake your fist at Him and curse His name?

Jesus and John are fulfilling the purpose that Jesus had in coming to earth and the purpose John had in writing his Gospel.

John 20:30–31 (ESV)

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

So far we’ve seen…

John 2:11 (ESV)

11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

John 2:22 (ESV)

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.

Let’s look closely here. The sign or miracle pointed to Jesus and helped His followers place their trust and faith in Him. When you couple the sign, then with OT prophesy and Jesus’ Words, He became all-glorious and the entire focus of our faith. In other words, because of the miracle we stand in awe of Jesus and our hearts sing glory and honor and praise belong to Christ! As amazing as the wonder is, it points to the Wonder-Worker.

What about those who are stuck simply looking at the miracle? There are people who are believing in Jesus for what He can do for them here and now and they are treasuring other things, namely the things Jesus can give them and not Jesus Himself and unless something changes they are vessels of God’s wrath.

As I read these verses today I pray you feel the struggle and turmoil these verses are meant to produce…

John 2:23–25 (ESV)

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. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

  1. The Glorious and Frightening Omniscience of Jesus

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. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Notice the emphasis here…Jesus did not entrust Himself to them because He knows ALL people. He doesn’t need any help to know this and He knows what is in people. Jesus’ omniscience…all knowing extends to the very soul of each and every person including you and me. He knows everything there is to know about you.

However deep you want to go and on whatever level, He knows all there is to know about everyone.

In the case of our current passage, Jesus knew the hearts of the believers and knew that their belief was flawed therefore, He did not entrust Himself to them.

In the opening verses of John’s Gospel we see what is at work in genuine saving faith.

John 1:11–12 (ESV)

11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

True saving faith fixes itself on the Person of Jesus Christ and receives Him as the author and finisher of our faith. It takes hold of Christ with a relentless grip that cannot be severed.

Jesus knows all things about all people and He knows if your faith is genuine saving faith fixed on Him or if it is a flawed or even a dead faith or if it is no faith at all.

In Jesus’ omniscience we see John emphasizing that He knows all things about all people. We need to camp out here for a minute.

If Jesus knows all things about all people then it stands to reason that He knows all things about you. He knows every thought you’ve ever had; He knows each and every sin you have or will commit; He knows things that no one else knows; He knows more about you than you do. He knows who are His and who aren’t His.

Jesus knew when He chose His disciples that Peter would deny Him three times. He knew the before the foundation of the world that Judas was a fraud and would never be a follower. He knew all their struggles and conflicts.

Listen to these verses carefully…

John 21:15–17 (ESV)

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

We must come to grips with the fact that we are fully known by Jesus. We must also conclude that the secret thoughts and sins are not secret, they are fully known by Jesus. He also knows whether our faith is genuine or not. There is no fooling the omniscient Savior.

Jesus even knew everything about Judas…

John 6:64–65 (ESV)

64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Jesus knew exactly how the events were to transpire concerning Judas and His crucifixion…

John 13:27 (ESV)

27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

Jesus chose Judas to be one of the twelve so that He would be crucified. He knows everything about all people including us.

That’s why omniscience is glorious and frightening. It’s glorious because it shows that God is so infinitely above and beyond us and it is frightening because we may be able to fool others and even ourselves but not God. Jesus knows us entirely.

He knows who are His. His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him.

Here’s something else that is glorious about Jesus’ omniscience: He knows everything about us and yet He died to make us His. Do you see how that in an even greater way magnifies the love Jesus has for those who belong to Him?

I want to compare two people that we’ve mentioned already, Judas and Peter.

Judas went his own way sinning his own sin, setting himself up for the great fall we see in the Gospels. There came a point when Satan himself entered Judas and empowered Judas to do what Judas wanted to do all along. Judas wanted the money and the fame and Satan only helped him get what he wanted.

He was the one who was paid to turn over Jesus to the Jews for crucifixion and was paid 30 pieces of silver.

Then there is Peter…

Luke 22:31–32 (ESV)

31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Do you see the difference? Peter had true saving faith Judas didn’t and Jesus prayed for Peter and not for Judas.

The reason that true faith remains through trials and struggles is not that we are so committed. It isn’t that we’re just so strong and love Jesus so much…the reason is that Jesus stands in the gap for us. He prays for His own. For all who have loved and trusted Christ, He has prayed for us too.

John 17:9 (ESV)

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

Do you see how much Jesus knows about people? Everything!

  1. The Dead Faith of the Sign-Seekers

John 2:23–25 (ESV)

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. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

In our passage for today, we see that after Jesus cleared the temple, turned water into wine and probably other miracles not recorded, many people believed.

many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.

It is clearly stated that they believed. This was real faith but not saving faith. On the surface this seems like what Jesus was after. It seems like what John too desired. They saw the signs and believed in His name. Just as real as their faith was, there was also a real problem. Jesus wasn’t falling for it. Well, because He knew what was in man, He knew what type of belief was in these people. It was a belief in His miracles and signs but not a saving faith in Jesus. They were interested in His miracle working skill not interested in Him as Savior and Lord. Here’s your chance Jesus. Here’s your chance for fame and fortune. Jesus was not interested in flattery was He?

Their faith was a dead faith.

Here’s the dynamic…when they saw the real miracles Jesus accomplished they believed that those miracles were in fact genuine, in other words, they didn’t think they were tricks brought about by smoke and mirrors. They genuinely believed that Jesus was working true miracles. They believed Jesus was special and that He was sent by God. Yet all this belief was worthless because they did not believe what one must believe in order to be saved…believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

Here, they trusted not in Jesus but in His miracles. That’s what astonished them. That’s what they wanted more of. Because He knew them inside and out, He wasn’t about to entrust Himself to them.

By contrast we see just how much of Himself Jesus gives to His people…

John 10:14–15 (ESV)

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

These were simply sign-seekers and their faith was worthless. They were in awe of Jesus’ abilities but not in awe of Him. They stopped as the visible sign but did not go on to what the sign was pointing to, namely Jesus Christ.

Can we have a true faith or a true belief but it not be a saving faith?

John 7:1–5 (ESV)

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him.

Notice closely, they believed in His miracle working ability but that is not considered true belief in Him. These were Jesus’ actual brothers here. These were some of Mary’s other children. They saw in Jesus what those in John 2 saw…amazing wonder-working ability, fame and fortune but not the Savior.

Is your faith rooted in the Person of Christ? We must be on guard that our faith is never rooted in the benefits of Christ. There is a thin satanic line between the two. If you’re following Jesus for what He can do for you then your faith is not saving faith, it’s no different that being a sign-seeker. The benefit, blessing, or whatever is your real savior and hope, Jesus is just the means to get you what you really want.

I want to follow this text into the next chapter briefly today…

John 2:24–3:2 (ESV)

24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

Chapter and verse…

Look at the clues with me.

Jesus knows what’s in a man… Now there was a man

The people Jesus would not entrust Himself to were those who chased after Him because of His signs… no one can do these signs that you do

Nicodemus was one of the group who had some level of belief but who did not trust Christ only wanted to see more miracles.

Those who seek for miracles and signs are not only selfish (desiring fame for themselves) but are open to satanic deception…

Sign-chasers will get exactly what they are so longing to find.

2 Thessalonians 2:9–10 (ESV)

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Satan can work signs and wonders. If it’s signs and wonders you seek you will be deceived. Notice that they were deceived by the sign and refused to love the truth in order to be saved.

The truth of Christ found in Scripture leads us to correct faith, a saving faith and it has nothing to do with miracles.

Matthew 24:24 (ESV)

24 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Beloved, we must guard against loving Jesus because of the things He does but love Jesus simply because of who He is. He is prescious, He is amazing, He is altogether lovely, He is our treasure, He is the Pearl of Great Price, He is Savior and Lord.

Psalm 73:25–26 (ESV)

25    Whom have I in heaven but you?

And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

26    My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.


The bottom line for us is to trust and love Jesus alone. We appreciate all His benefits and blessings but our love for Him far exceeds what He does for us. As amazing as His signs and miracles are they are simply tools He used to point to Himself. If you adore and trust Christ alone then you can have confidence that your salvation is real. If you love other things, even the blessings Jesus gives more than you love Jesus Himself then you should step back a rethink things.

We thank Him for His blessing but we don’t love Him for His blessings. We love Him because He alone is worthy of our love and trust.


Declaration of Grace

In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen


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