He Knew All Men

Intro: The gospel of John is unique in its presentation of the life of Jesus. He writes almost a generation after the other three gospels. His order presentation is intended to prove the proposition which begins his gospel.

  • John 1:14-1814 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'” 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. .Jesus of Nazareth was God in flesh.

Fast forward to John 20.30-31 – 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John tells us at the end that He has included enough evidence to conclude that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. More could be said, but this is enough.

  • In between those sections, John relates several significant miracles that Jesus performed, often with the addition of some interaction or teaching that accompanied the miracles (John 2-11).
  • He also includes a lengthy account of the death, burial and resurrection. He provides a detailed look at Jesus last days before His death, including instructions of the apostles. (John 12-20). It is a wonderful, powerful, elegant, and orderly presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Still, there are evidences more subtle and more easily overlooked. I want to consider an often unseen evidence of Jesus’ divine identity beginning in John 1:19

  • John the Baptist is presented as a witness to the identity of Jesus. He had seen the Spirit descend upon the Lord at His baptism and John notes that such was the sign given to him which would identify the Messiah (v.26-34).
  • On two consecutive days, John sees Jesus among the many who were gathered in Bathabara, and points Him out as “the Lamb of God” (v.29, 36), prompting two of his disciples to seek out Jesus and spend some time with Him (38-39).
  • The conclusion of that interview caused Andrew to go find his brother Simon and introduce him to Jesus, who renames him Cephas or Peter (40-42).
  • Read John 2:43-50; The chapter concludes with Jesus calling Philip to accompany Him to Galilee (was Philip the other disciple with Andrew?).
    • Philip goes first and brings Nathanael to Jesus.
    • Jesus greets Nathaniel as “an Israelite in whom is no deceit”(v.47).
    • When Nathanael questions Jesus about His knowledge of him, Jesus replies that He had seen Nathanael under a fig tree before Philip had called him (47-48). Nathanael needed no more to be convinced of the identity of Jesus as the “Son of God” (v.49).


  1. Jesus Knows… Notice the subtle presentation of Jesus’ omniscience.
  • He changes Simon’s name upon their initial meeting.
  • He saw Nathanael in such a way that must have defied the natural laws of this world, for Nathanael immediately recognizes Him as possessing the powers of God.
  • It would appear that the events of this section have that one singular concept in view – Jesus was unlimited in His knowledge.
  1. The second chapter ends in a very similar way. After the “water to wine” miracle in Cana, Jesus goes to Jerusalem and “many believed in His name when they saw the signs” (v.23).
  2. John 2:23-2523 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, 25 and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
  3. This language seems to mean that Jesus knew the reality or extent of their trust and was unwilling to reveal too much of His purpose and identity at this point.
  4. The last phrase (he had no need that anyone should testify of man) is interpreted to mean Jesus did not need to rely on human references in order to know people, “for He knew what was in man (v.24-25).
  5. That is an incredible and almost unthinkable affirmation. How can one know everyone – what they think, what they are like, their dispositions, attitudes, thoughts, feelings, inclinations, strengths, weaknesses? We might convince ourselves that we know one other person (our mate, friend), but who can know all men? Such a consideration defies imagination.
  6. John gives us this evidence on several occasions. It can be overlooked in the context of the other miracles that John records. Some instances which John mentions Jesus’ knowledge might be explained away; others are simply undeniable in their implication.
  • In 4.1, Jesus knew that the Pharisees were aware of His growing influence.
  • Jesus knew the domestic affairs of the woman at the well. – John 4:17-18 – You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,'” Jesus said. 18 “For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
  • He healed the nobleman’s son from almost twenty-five miles away, knowing of the effectiveness of His miracle down to the very hour (49-53).
  • He knew that the paralyzed man in Jerusalem (6) had “been in the condition a long time”.
  • In John6, Jesus knew the crowd was preparing to make Him king by force (15);
  • that they had followed Him back to Capernaum because He had fed them (26);
  • that His disciples were put off by His teaching and which ones would desert Him (60-64).
  • John 7:1 – He knew the authorities were seeking a way to kill Him.
  • John 1-9, He knew the motives of those questioning Him about the woman taken in adultery.
  • John 9:1-3 – Jesus knew why the man in temple had been born blind.
  • John 11:11-15 – He knew that Lazarus was dead
  • John 13:21-30 – Knew Judas would betray Him.
  • John 13:38 – Knew Peter would deny Him three times before the morning broke.
  • John 20:24-29, He knew the specific demands that Thomas had made in order to accept the fact of the resurrection.
  • And, finally, in John21: 6 Jesus knows that the disciples will be successful if they would cast their nets on the right side of the boat, going on later to describe to Peter those circumstances which would characterize the end of his life (v.18-19). Over and over and over John points to the omniscience of the carpenter’s son from Nazareth.
  1. God’s power and nature are beyond comprehension.
  • We cower before God’s omnipotence – I cannot fathom a power that can speak worlds into existence, or transcend our physical universe, or reanimate what is dead.
  • I am amazed at the wisdom manifested in the manifold facets of this universe – geologic; biologic; astronomic; atomic; the various laws that govern the cosmos. Illustrations are infinite, from the veins of a leaf to the circuit of the stars.
  • I stand in awe before the character of God – consummately righteous; completely just; love perfected; holy in His very existence.
  • Yet how can we not be humbled by His omniscience. It is at once horrifying, and yet strangely comforting, because the implications of such are very very personal.
  1. Take it personally – When John affirms that Jesus “knew all men”, that includes me. Matt 10:29-31 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Who am I that the infinite God would number the very hairs of my head?
  2. Even more so, to know that He takes note of me with a view towards my well-being.
  3. a. The Lord knows my heart….People often note that “the Lord knows my heart”, generally with the intent of justifying some failure, weakness, or lack of discipline.
  • “Yeah I may party a little, but the Lord knows my heart.”
  • “I may not be the best father, but the Lord knows my heart.”
  • “Yeah I cuss a bit, but the Lord knows my heart.”
  • “No, I don’t go to church, but the Lord knows my heart.” Most of the time, we offer God’s omniscience as an excuse for ourselves, as if we know deep down inside that we are better than we are.
  1. The truth is that God knows the truth. He really does know our heart – whether we are better than we appear. That reality should prompt some self-honesty, transparency, and true repentance, rather than serving as a poor excuse for continued ungodliness. The Lord knows what’s in me.
  2. That omniscience is frightening, because I will stand before the Lord in judgment.
  • Heb 4:12-13 – 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
  • Ps 90:8 – 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
  • Job 31:4 – 4 Does He not see my ways, And count all my steps?
  • Jer 23:24– Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the Lord;”
  • He declares repeatedly that He will “bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (12.14; 2 Cor.5.10). When He examines me, nothing will get past Him. That scares me, and ought to prompt great diligence regarding holiness and godliness and repentance in my life.
  1. Yet the omniscience of Jesus is also extremely comforting. He knows my weaknesses, my struggles, my self-loathing, my yearning to be better than I am.
  • Heb 2:16-1816 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
  • Heb 4:14-16 – 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
  • He knows what it is to be dismissed, misunderstood, hated, doubted, disappointed, lied about, lied to, discouraged. He felt all of those things and knows fully when they war against my trust in Him. He knows the concerns I have. He knows about my frustrations. He knows about my fears. He knows what and whom I care about. He knows the temptations that are so powerful in their appeal to me. He knows how hard I really try, and how pitiably I fail.
  • Because He knows, He can sympathize.
  • Because He knows, He can supply the escape for my temptation (1 Cor.10.13).
  • Because He knows, He hears my prayer (1 Pet.3.12f), and “knows how to deliver the godly” (2 Pet.2.9). He knows the ebb and flow of my trust and my earnest desire to please Him, even though I sometimes think I will never be who He wants me to be.
  • He knows that I am trying. He knows my potential and He desires my contribution to His cause (12.3f; Eph.4.11f; Mt.25.14f). He finds me valuable, even I often feel woefully incapable. He knows me, and wants me anyway. And such knowledge helps me to get up in the morning and serve the Lord today. Because my Lord, my King, my God, my Judge knows me – and died to save me anyway.

Conclusion: In the consideration of God, few things are as arresting as His omniscience. It does not surprise us that John provides an ongoing picture of Jesus’ complete knowledge of men. This divine quality stands under the entirety of his testimony. Jesus was and is God. He came to express God. He came to show grace and truth. He came to save us. He knew all men. He still does. And that fact makes all the difference

  • From an article by Russ Bowman.
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