Noticing my penchant for people-pleasing, my dad would constantly confront me with these compelling words: Son, always remember that people make lousy gods.
He incessantly reminded me not to worry about what people thought of me. They weren’t thinking of me at all! They were too busy thinking about themselves.
Both in his teachings and in practical life, Jesus must have understood this truth.
“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25).
Jesus knew all people, every single one of us, and what is in our hearts. He recognized how people can let us down. He knew that we mostly think of ourselves and not others. He understood how fickle we are in our loyalty and support for others. Because of the devastation of human sin, we mostly look out for number one.
Jesus personally experienced the fickleness of human approval as well.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the crowds shouted, “Hosanna!” They were passionately expectant that he would soon launch his kingdom and eliminate Roman oppression from Israel. Yet within five days, many in this same crowd were among the throngs yelling, “Crucify him! Give us Barabbas!” From Sunday to Friday, they had suddenly decided that they wanted Jesus dead.
But Jesus was not surprised by this abrupt change. He knew what was in all human hearts. He didn’t entrust himself to people. He realized that people make lousy gods.
That same week, Jesus also had Judas betray him and Peter deny him. Within hours of one another, two of his most intimate companions let him down. When he needed them the most, they abandoned and forsook him. They were nowhere to be found---Judas for thirty pieces of silver and Peter for fear of death.
Jesus was not surprised by their behavior. He knew what was in all people’s hearts. He realized that people make lousy gods.
Perhaps we should as well.
As you prepare for Holy Week, let the Holy Spirit probe your heart. Ask him to give you evidence of any people idolatry. When revealed to you, bow your head and confess it. Claim anew that no person can meet the deepest longings of your heart. Only Jesus can. His unconditional love and eternal presence give us daily security.
Know that Jesus’s love for you has no boundaries. His acceptance of you will never end. And though others may abandon and forsake you, Jesus never will. He is always for you. He is forever on your side. He is with you until the close of the age.
People make lousy gods.
But Jesus doesn’t and never will.