The DEEP

Best-Laid Plans

without prayer, go oft awry.

John 2:23–25

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. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

The testimony of man is the last thing Jesus needs. It’s likely to be corrupted; that’s the point of, “He knew what was in man.” As we’ll soon see, there will be no lack of false testimony about Jesus (and, later, about His disciples).

But if the testimony is not corrupted, that’s even worse. Remember, part of His plan to get crucified is concealing His identity. That’s why He silences demons when they blurt out who He is. That’s why He, “had no need that anyone should testify of man.”

But it’s also the other side of, “He knew what was in man.” Knowing how people will react is the key to His amazing “bank-shot” plan to be crucified.

The people have to like Him enough to produce the Palm Sunday crowds singing “Hosanna,” but still be unsure and fickle enough to turn into the Good Friday crowds screaming, “Crucify!”


If only we knew what was in man! Despite our training, despite the teaching on things like sin and depravity, we understand little. The result is often miscalculation leading to frustration and failure.

The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry. — Robert Burns

And our ignorance of ourselves pales in comparison to our ignorance of most everything else, especially our spiritual opponents. We are out of our depth in a battle of wits with the forces of darkness. When it comes to spiritual things, bank-shots are above our pay grade.

Thus, the key to serving the Lord is depending on Him. Praying for the Lord’s leading is absolutely essential to useful service. That’s the key to understanding this troubling, even frightening, passage:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” — Matthew 7:21–23

They make what sounds like a good counter-argument, “Have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” So, what did they do wrong?

Remember, he who shall enter the kingdom of heaven is he who does the will of My Father in heaven. They don’t claim to have done that. They claim a whole bunch of things that they assume are His will.

But they didn’t actually check in with the Boss. Their “non-prayers” are the problem.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.