When I was a young child I took people, namely adults, at their word. To a child, adults are authority figures and what they say goes. As a young adult I took my friends at their word. My friends did not possess authority in my life like adults; they were my peers whom I trusted. Now that I am a more mature adult I have learned to take people in general at their word.
What does it mean to take a person at their word? It means to believe exactly what someone tells you, and to be convinced of another’s sincerity, but not with bated breath. Bated breath means to be eager, excited, or anxious while you wait. As a child I once waited with bated breath for a brand new bicycle promised to me by an elder cousin (of my parent’s age) that never came. As a young adult I once waited with bated breath for a friend’s invite to a social gathering at their home that never came. Now that I’m a more mature adult I have learned to take people in general at their word without bated breath.
In scripture, there was an occasion when even Jesus did not wait on men with bated breath. In fact, it took place during the first of three Passovers that Jesus attended during his ministry: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” [John 2:23-25].
Let’s consider from scripture why Jesus did not wait on men with bated breath on this occasion. The answer: superficial faith.
Take note that during the Passover, many people believed in his name. This phrase generally expresses those with saving faith in Jesus. However, a careful reading of verses 24-25 indicates that those who believed in his name had a superficial faith. On the surface their faith appeared real, but in all actuality it was not. The Bible reveals that those who believed in his name only believed because of the miracles that he performed, but not with full acceptance of his claim [John 2:18-22]. And even today, many do not fully commit to Jesus because they are looking for a miracle to happen in their life, which is no guarantee that they will follow him. The Biblical reason for every Biblical miracle defined in the scriptures was to confirm (to cause men to believe and to commit) to Jesus’ word [Mark 16:20]. However, because their belief was superficial, Jesus did not wait on them with bated breath (i.e. he did not commit or place his trust in them). Although some will never believe, and others will believe only to a point (miracles), the Lord wants every person to Take God At His Word. For God has said he will perform it [Jeremiah 1:1-12, Ezekiel 12:1-25, Acts 17:30-31]!