Lesson 28

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

5:37 The Father himself, who sent me, has testified about me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form. 5:38 You don't have his word living in you; for whom he sent, him you don't believe. 5:39 You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me. 5:40 Yet you will not come to me, that you may have life. 5:41 I don't receive glory from men. 5:42 But I know you, that you don't have God's love in yourselves. 5:43 I have come in my Father's name, and you don't receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 5:44 How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and you don't seek the glory that comes from the only God?

5:45 "Don't think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, even Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 5:46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me. 5:47 But if you don't believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"

 Today's Lesson

Jesus continues His words about the testimony of the Father in His ministry. This section is directed squarely at His critics who thought that their position and knowledge of the scriptures allowed them to judge His works by their preconceptions. What makes Jesus' words all the more damning is that they are aimed at scholarly, religious people. These were not ignorant farmers or fisherman to whom He spoke, but men who had been steeped in God's Holy Scriptures from birth.


Jesus says to these men, You don't know God. God is not living in you. If you cannot recognize the one that God has sent then you cannot recognize God either. Verses 39 & 40 are two of the most powerful verses in scripture to me. And they are humbling as well. The Bible and God's Holy Scriptures are wonderful and awe inspiring. But, of themselves, they cannot impart eternal life. They point to a living and active God who gives them life and meaning. The scriptures without the Spirit are dead letters. But, if we would only turn to Christ for life, the Spirit will illuminate the scriptures and teach us the things of God.


But, these critics are not willing to turn to the one that God has sent. They rely on their own knowledge of scripture to lead them to truth. They seek and receive glory from one another, but they reject the glory that comes from God. Not only do they not have God's life in them, they do not have God's love in them (v.42.).


Jesus is now ready to call another witness to His side. This next personage is both witness and accuser. Jesus says that He will not be the one that accuses His critics before the Father. Rather, the prophet on whom they had set their hopes, Moses himself, would stand to accuse them. Jesus says that Moses was writing about Him and to believe Moses is to believe in Jesus of Nazareth. One cannot believe Moses and reject Jesus.


Jesus reserves His strongest criticism here and elsewhere for religious scholars who rejected His teaching about God because of their own preconception of who God was. For this reason I believe that we must always be modest in our declarations about our understanding of who God is and what He is trying to achieve. Even though the Spirit of God lives in us, God will always be a mystery to us. Who can know the mind of God save for the Son and the Spirit? Our understanding is limited by our mortal bounds. We must constantly check our assumptions to determine if what we think we know about God is based on what He has confirmed in our lives.


Do I mean that the child of God can have no firm convictions? Absolutely not. There are some things that God has clearly revealed to us. God is merciful. Where we must be cautious is in application. How far does the mercy of God reach? How does God's mercy touch my life? How will God's mercy affect my neighbor's life? In these matters I must leave wide room for God to work. His mercy is beyond my comprehension. I must never lock myself into believing God's mercy means He will react in only one particular way. And the same is true with every aspect of God's being.


Let us diligently study the scriptures, allowing them to lead us to the living God whose life and truth seeks to live within us. Let us look to the one that the Father has sent to us, full of grace and truth. Let us look to Jesus of Nazareth for life everlasting.


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