By Jason Scherzer
The Word: John 5:39-47
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
In John chapter 5, Jesus has gone “up” to Jerusalem, upward because Jerusalem is situated on two mountains so that Jesus and His disciples were climbing to a higher elevation. They had to go to Jerusalem for a festival of the Jews.
Jesus has divinely selected a man who was lame, lying helplessly by the pool and healed the man on the Jewish Sabbath day. The Jewish teachers of the law (Pharisees) held to many strictly imposed human regulations that in their view, complemented the Law of Moses. However, their laws convoluted religious life by making it impossible for people to satisfy the Pharisees’ strict requirements perfectly. They also prevented people from freely approaching God with a pure heart. They were very upset that Jesus had healed a man on the Sabbath, which they felt was “working,” and that the healed man had carried his mat, which was also “work” in their view. The Sabbath to them was strictly a day of rest in the most extreme sense.
Jesus acknowledges the Scriptures in verse 39 as the Word of God, while showing the paradox that the Jewish teachers of the law were severely misguided in their understanding of the Scriptures. The central figure of the Scriptures is the Messiah King who brings eternal life, yet the Pharisees refused to recognize the man Jesus, standing before them, as the Messiah.
Scripture (Old Testament) ascribes to Jesus many names, including Yahweh, God, the Mighty God, the Son of God, while also prophesying His miraculous incarnate birth to a virgin. The Scriptures also predict his birth location, family, and particular Jewish tribe, hundreds of years in advance. He was also given the offices of prophet, priest, and king specifically foretold in the Scriptures.
We do need to read this last section of John 5 in the context of Jesus speaking against the Pharisees with a forceful, yet calm, controlled demeanor. Jesus is not desperate in His confrontation to the Pharisees, but He is forceful. He exposes the arrogant disposition of their hearts that dared to tell the Son of God that He was breaking their law and that He had somehow offended them.
Some people in the crowds came to Jesus because He provided loaves of bread; others came to Him because they wanted to see His miracles; others perhaps so that they could decide to classify Him as a good teacher or a prophet. There is a physical aspect of coming to Jesus, which the crowds do when they seek Him, but there is also a spiritual coming to Jesus to receive eternal life. The spiritual aspect is the crucial aspect and is also impossible for anyone with a hardened heart. Jesus says that the Pharisees refuse to come to Him, yet they did physically come to Him, without understanding.
Christ is eternal life. He alone holds the power of eternal life, and He gives eternal life to whom He chooses. His glory comes from God the Father, and not from any human person. Jesus did not need praise from man, but He did want to seek and save the lost – not wanting any to perish. Everyone who comes to Christ by faith will have eternal life in Him.
Isaiah 35:5-6 says, “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” In John chapter 5, we have the reliable record of a man who was lame for 38 years who walks perfectly in response to the command of Jesus to be healed. It is definite proof of Isaiah’s prophecy being fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
Moses looked forward to Jesus day and recognized that the mortal man Moses himself was not a savior for Israel. He was a leader (and prophet) that God raised to lead His people out of Egypt. But it is the writings of Moses that Jesus speaks to. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses says, “The Lord your God will raise for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” Moses also outlines the test of a true prophet, who speaks the words that God has commanded him to speak. To reject Jesus as Messiah is to deny the underlying message of Moses, who instructed to listen to the prophet that is raised by the Lord God.
Pray as you search the Scriptures and look for Jesus to be revealed as Son of God, Messiah, King, Savior, Prophet, and Priest in every corner of Scripture. As Messiah, Jesus is God’s “anointed one.” As Prophet, Jesus speaks the very words of God to us and represents God to us. As Priest, He makes atonement for sins by the sacrifice of Himself. Dwell on who He is, and ask God to give you an undivided heart and an open mind as you read. Then believe with all your heart in the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth.
LORD, as I try to take in Your scriptures, help me to understand the main point and grasp the greatness of King Jesus. Show more of Yourself to me as I seek You with a pure heart. Protect me from spiritual attack and keep me on the path to life. Let me be a witness for You where You have placed me. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.