Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.
The statement cited in the question comes immediately after a mention of the signs or miracles that Jesus performed in Jerusalem during the Passover feast, and of the many who believed in Jesus because of these miracles. However, Jesus, in His omniscience, knew that they were reacting in a superficial fashion to His actions, and following Him merely because He "put on a good show", or met their material needs, or could possibly fulfill their political aspirations to be free of Roman domination (rather than taking His miracles as proof of His identity as the Son of God and the Messiah, and being truly committed to His teaching and to His call to repentance and discipleship), and that they would just as readily abandon Him when they would face persecution, imprisonment, or death because of being associated with Him. That is why He was not "carried away" by their acclaim, or did not let it "go to His head", which are the real meanings of the verse cited in the question. Jesus expressed the same reaction in John 6:26 to those who went looking for Him after the feeding of the five thousand, saying to them, "You sought Me not because you saw signs" -- that is, further proof of His identity as the Son of God and the Messiah -- "but because you ate your fill of the loaves." The accuracy of Jesus' perception and reaction in this regard is nowhere more dramatically illustrated and confirmed than in the events of Holy Week, when the crowds who proclaimed, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" on Palm Sunday (thinking that the political overthrow of the Roman occupation might possibly be at hand) were five days later shouting, "Crucify Him!"
There is not really a simple answer to your question and not enough space here to fully answer it, but I will attempt to point you in a few different directions for study of this matter. First look at Ezekiel 14:1-11. In this passage we see God telling the prophet to be careful concerning the heart attitude of those consulting with him. If they are not actually seeking truth with pure motives he is not to say anything in response to their request to consult with God through the prophet. This passage also tells us that if the prophet does speak to them he is as guilty of the sins they commit with the word of God as the one who consults with him. 1 Sam 16:7 does not tell us that man cannot see the hearts of other men, it tells us we don't bother looking at it. This passage commands us to look at the hearts of men and determine their condition. Because we cannot read minds our ability to see heart condition is limited, but not non-existent. Anyone with practice observing human behavior can develop this skill and some become very good at it. No matter how well a person hides his inner motives over time he cannot help but reveal them through his actions or words or even the things he refuses to say or the discrepancy between what he says or what he does. Because Jesus had received the fullness of the Spirit at his baptism he could read their hearts and thoughts. He knew their selfish motives and therefore could not entrust them with certain truths. Then there is the counsel from Isaiah that Jesus quoted in Mt 13 when his disciples asked him why he usually spoke only in parables. When the church teaches on either of these passages they focus on only one of the two aspects of it, and not the one most clearly stated at that. The normal teaching is that it packs many layers of truth in a simple format so that much more information can be given in few words. There is a certain truth to this and Jesus did tell the disciples that they could understand the meaning of these stories while others could not, but then he went on to teach them the meaning of many of the symbols in one story -- they were not able to understand the story before that. But the true reason, given by both Isaiah and Jesus was that if he spoke plainly these unbelievers would recognize and believe the truth then he would have to heal them and restore them. A major theme of the book of Isaiah is the blindness God has imposed on his people. Most of Christianity rejects this because they first rejected the doctrine of the restoration of all things, and then consigned the majority of the earth to the Greek and Egyptian hell because they are not believers. However, Paul teaches in 1 Cor 15 and the law teaches, primarily in the three major harvest festivals, of the saving of all men in three groups at three different times. The elect are the barley (wave sheaf - Firstfruits), the believers are the wheat (Pentecost) and the world is the grapes (Tabernacles). The blindness God puts on his people and especially their priests and prophets (Isa 28:7; 29:9, 10 and others) does not prevent them from being saved, it delays that salvation to their appointed time. So God gives us two reasons for not sharing the full truth with these people. First, because of the hardness of their hearts and the deeply ingrained selfishness they cannot be trusted with this information, and the prophet sharing it with them also shares in the responsibility for the sins they would commit by twisting it to their self-serving ends. Secondly, if they get enough, or may certain pieces of this truth, it would soften their hearts and bring them to repentance forcing God to save them before the appointed time in his plan. I don't know why God has planned salvation in this way (I do have some ideas) but I know he has told us in many different prophecies that this is his plan, and he takes full credit for it. Far be it from me to say God is evil for doing so as many have claimed.
Some think John 2:23-24 indicates that although the people believed, they did not have saving faith. It is suggested that people considered Jesus as a great healer, but the people did not go as far as to see Him as the great Savior from sin. These that think this make a difference between superficial faith and saving faith. But John 2:23 is clear that many believed in His name because they saw the miracles, that is, signs. Some say their faith was inadequate because they based it on miracles. But they believed on His name, John 1:12-13, 3:18, as John asserted was his purpose in writing the gospel, John 20:30-31. The belief based on signs is still faith, even though Jesus commended those who have not seen and have believed, John 20:28-29. Concerning John 2:23, their faith was real. They were believers saved through faith in Jesus, just as Jesus later made absolutely clear, John 6:47. In John 2:24, the same word used for “believed” in verse 23 is used for “commit.” Jesus did not entrust Himself to them for they, being new believers, were not ready to be trusted. Jesus knew their hearts and thoughts. They had not come to intimacy as friends with Him and were “untrustworthy.” A child trusts the parent, but the parent may not trust the child in some things. So, it may be said that the people put their confidence in Jesus, but Jesus did not yet put His confidence in them. Eventually, the disciples stood their ground to associate with Jesus and confess Him as the Christ, John 6:68-69. They would walk in fellowship with Christ and experience friendship based on obedience, John 15:14. However, due to pride and fear of being excommunicated, some kept their faith a secret, John 7:13, 9:22, 12:42-43. They believed, yet they, like some today experiencing persecution, did not have the courage to identify with Christ, but were secret followers. Some question whether they were saved not having confessed Christ, but confession is not a condition for eternal life but believing in Jesus is. John 3:1-2 begins to tell of a man who would eventually display his faith, connecting to what Jesus meant by the words of John 2:24-25. He was Nicodemus, always identified as the “one who came to Jesus by night.” Some have suggested Nicodemus had already believed in His name and secretly approached Him for a nighttime interview. Jesus would explain to him more about the spiritual birth process. Later, Nicodemus had not yet revealed his faith when he weakly defended the Lord, John 7:47-52. But John 19:38-42 relates Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, another secret disciple, teaming up to boldly honor their Lord with a burial fit for a king. They had finally become trustworthy to the Lord. To those who not only believe but openly honor the Lord by confessing Him, the Lord entrusts Himself to be intimate with them. This is the sense of what John was writing about in John 2:23-25.
All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.
A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.