“How do you know me?” John i.48
If a stranger should tell you a secret about yourself, you will certainly be taken aback. You might ask him, “How do you know me?” We don’t expect people to read our minds or have a superhuman knowledge about our inner life – our thoughts, motives or feelings.
When Nathanael met Jesus for the first time, without any prior introduction, Jesus said to him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael was surprised that a total stranger knew about his private devotion to God. He asked Jesus, “How do you know me?”
The Gospel of John reveals Jesus’ supernatural knowledge of each and every human being. John testified: “he knew all people … he knew what was in man.” (ii:24-25) Jesus used his supernatural knowledge of people to help them know that He was the Messiah, the Son of God. When Jesus revealed even more secrets of his life, Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Nathanael was certain that only God could know the secrets of his heart. If Jesus knew those secrets, He must certainly be the Son of God.
Jesus led a Samaritan woman, and through her the entire population of Sychar, to believe that He was the Messiah by revealing the woman’s hidden past to her. She went to town and proclaimed, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” If Jesus used his supernatural gift as a tool of evangelism, why doesn’t His church use the gift of prophecy to replicate the same results? “If all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” (1 Cor xiv.24-25)
Similarly, Jesus knew the sinful past of the invalid man who spent thirty eight years beside the Pool of Bethesda. After Jesus had healed him, He warned the man, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” Clearly, the man had to spent decades as an invalid due to his sin. According to Jesus, sin can be the underlying cause of certain chronic illnesses! But sin is not the cause of every illness or misfortune (ix.3).
It is comforting to know that Jesus knows us through and through. We don’t have to strive to impress him; he knows our love for Him. He sees even the smallest sacrifices we make for His name’s sake. Even if the whole world should misunderstand us, Jesus will always understand us and stand by us. At the same time, our sins too are exposed before His fiery gaze. The closer we go towards Him, the more thoroughly will He purify us.