Praise From God
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.” (John 12:42-45)
In our verses for today, we see even among the leaders those who were persuaded that Jesus was the Messiah. Sadly, they were not bold enough to acknowledge their faith for fear of the consequences that might ensue. It would appear that mankind continuously seeks the approval and acceptance of mankind. We worry about the praise of the creature rather than striving for the praise of the Creator. Earlier in John, Jesus said:
“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”
Does the praise of men tickle our ears and motivate our actions, prompting us to have very little or no regard for the praise of God? This is a cause for many a downfall. King Saul is a perfect example from scripture. The first King of Israel suffered with the problem of people pleasing. Neglecting the Lord’s command to totally destroy the Amalekites and everything belonging to them, Saul spared the king and some of the best of the sheep and cattle and lambs. His actions did not please God:
Then the word of the LORD came to Samuel:
“I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the LORD all that night. (1 Samuel 15:10-11)
After Samuel questioned Saul, we discover the reason for his disobedience:
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the LORD’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them.
(1 Samuel 15:24)
Saul proved to be a coward. He was unwilling to stand for the difficult right against the easy wrong in an effort to be embraced and lauded by flesh and blood. Paul had it right when he wrote to the Thessalonians:
We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed–God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.
(1 Thessalonians 2:1-6)
Make no mistake about it, when we reject Jesus, we reject God. There is an entire unity between Jesus and the Father, a complete and mysterious oneness. To trust in the Son–the sent Savior of sinners–is to also trust in the Father–the One who sent Jesus to save. Though distinct persons of the trinity, they cannot be divided. The unity of Jesus and the Father are so complete that to honor God is to honor the Son as well, and conversely, to dishonor one is to dishonor the other.
Take It to Heart
God makes Himself known through the face of Christ. To believe in Jesus is to believe in God. God’s essential nature is disclosed in our Lord Jesus. Knowing God comes through knowing His Son–reading His Words and paying attention to His deeds. Jesus came to make God known to us. Earlier John said:
No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (John 1:18)