John 5:31-47, NIV

31 "If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.
32 There is another who testifies in my favor, . . . his testimony
about me is valid. 33 You have sent to John and he has testified
to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but
I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that
burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy
his light.

36 "I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very
work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am
doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father
who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have
never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his
word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that
by them you possess eternal life. These Scriptures that testify
about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 "I do not accept praise from men, 42 but I know you.
I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.
43 I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept
me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will
accept him. 44 How can you believe if you accept praise
from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise
that comes from God?

45 "But do not think I will accuse you before the Father.
Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If
you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote
about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote,
how are you going to believe what I say?"


 

March 1, 2011

The story that began with the invalid who did not know his
healer, continues with Jesus talking to the authorities of Israel
who also do not know who he is. They think they know and plan
to act decisively on what they think they know. But in this
passage Jesus told them they know nothing about God, nothing
about the essence of the holy Scriptures nor the lawgiver, Moses.
These are very hard words, both to deliver and to receive.

Looking at this scene from the perspective of God's eternal
love for all mankind, we envision God's sorrow when men and
women, for whatever reasons, do not or can not trust their
Creator's goodwill toward them in the person we call Jesus.

Jesus, the word of God, had a love message to deliver. A message
full of grace and truth, and punctuated with parables,
forgiveness, invitations, challenges, blessings, healings and
other wonders.

People, like the ones in this passage, rejected all this. Thought
they knew better, refused to believe and did their best to
prevent others from falling victim to him.


                                                                                 More journal entries

December 20, 2001

In Jewish law, in order for truth to be established, there must
be two or three witnesses. Who did Jesus have to support his
claims? Who possessed enough stature to be a credible witness,
someone beyond dispute? Always when Jesus needed a
witness, the name of John the Baptist appears. It does again
in this passage. Even the authorities who questioned Jesus had
paid attention to John and respected his ministry of baptism.

Jesus mentioned John's name in hopes that their memory of
John would lead some of them to believe. He explained: For
your sake, not mine, was John's testimony given. To help you
find salvation, to help you receive the word and love of God
into your hearts. Then Jesus paid a wonderful tribute to his
forerunner: John was a lamp that burned brightly and provided
a guiding light which led many people toward the Lord their God.

Jesus continued on, arguing the case for his own authenticity.
Greater than John's witness are the works and wonders which
God had given him to do. Only someone coming from God
could do the these things. (In chapter 3, Nicodemus had also
reached this same conclusion; he voiced it in secret to Jesus,
but would not repeat it openly.) Furthermore, Jesus claimed,
God is my witness. Also the Scriptures, which these men
studied diligently, testified to him.

Jesus made a scathing comment about these opponents of his.
Even though they studied the Scriptures, the word of God did
not dwell in them! And in the next paragraph Jesus told them
they did not have the love of God in their hearts!

These guys were in real bad shape, living under an illusion,
deceiving themselves. Thinking themselves friends of God when
in reality they were God's enemies! Could there be anything
worse than that for those who wear the robes of faith?

We love what befriends us, not that which frightens us or stands
in the way of our getting what we want. We love or hate God,
then, depending on whether we conceive of God as befriending
us or blocking the way we want to go.


December 28, 2001
Jesus mentioned not three, but five, witnesses: John the Baptist,
the works he did, God who sent me, the Scriptures, and Moses.
All pointing to Jesus as God's chosen one. Still, his opposition
did not believe. Why? Jesus said God's word did not dwell in
them, God's love did not abide in their hearts. They were deaf
and blind; they never heard God's voice, never noticed his
presence.

These are strong indictments. And a warning to me as well.
I read and study the Scriptures. Does God's word live in me?
Is God's love alive and well in my heart? The people Jesus
was speaking to were very religious. Supposedly they were
doing everything right, but Jesus said they had it all wrong.
And because they had it all wrong, they refused to come
to Jesus and rejected his eternal life.


February 10, 1983
Jesus had a problem getting people to believe him, and belief
was what it was all about. "Believe and you shall live . . ." That's
why he used miracles, but even then he was sometimes accused
of being under the power of the Devil and not God. When he
died, was he happy to go and leave this ungrateful and
disbelieving planet? As far as some people were concerned,
nothing Jesus did was ever right! The vultures were always
hovering overhead, waiting for Jesus to make a fatal mistake
so they could swoop down for the road kill.


February 21, 1983
I sense God's sorrow in Jesus' voice when he said, You believed
John the Baptist and he testified concerning me, but still you won't
believe me. I do miracles in your presence, I teach with wisdom
and speak with authority, I argue and reason, I pray and preach--
What must I do to get you to believe that God sent me?


February 27, 1983
How do we decide what to believe? To whom and through
whom does God speak? What qualifies a person to speak or
write on God's behalf? We tend to look at talents and past
accomplishments, educational background or ability to draw
a crowd. We rely on accolades. Words of praise and great
reviews. Which is what Jesus said he doesn't put any stock in.
What mattered to him was God's
approval, not man's. That
brings me back to the same question - How can people
determine who bears the stamp of God's approval?

Jesus kept coming back to the theme of love. In verse 20
Jesus said the Father loves the Son and implied their love
was mutual. In verse 42 Jesus said his accusers did not have
the love of God in their hearts. As humans we can only see
what others reveal to us. And our observations may not be
accurate.

Maybe our Lord would have us be more concerned with
questioning ourselves. Rather than asking if another person
has the love of God in their heart, we need to focus on
ourselves and make sure in our innermost being we are
responding to life deeply rooted in the love which we have
learned from God. Am I soaking up that divine love every day,
and then spreading seeds of that love everywhere I go?


December 28, 2001
Was Jesus insulting them or simply telling them the truth.
Jesus went right on 
and told these guys they didn't need him
to condemn them. Moses had already 
done it. How so?
Because they were living a lie, thinking they were living 
according to the words of Moses. But Jesus said their refusal
to believe him 
demonstrated that God's word did not abide in
them. They did not hear God, 
neither had they seen what
God is like or allowed his word into their hearts. 
They didn't
really believe Moses so how could Jesus expect them to 
receive/accept him!

It may take three witness to declare a truth, but only one
Moses to condemn a falsehood! These words sting and alienate.
They do not welcome nor transform.


February 24, 1983
Moses held a position of honor because of his leadership
during the exodus from slavery in Egypt and the journey into
the Promised Land. It was safe to believe in Moses because
he was dead, wrapped up in a neat package, contained,
understood and would never to change. Nothing new or
fresh about his commandments, no surprises. Jesus was just
the opposite. Isn't it interesting that we find it easier to
admire and celebrate a dead person than a living one!

Jesus pointed out that the ancient texts promised some new
activity on the part of God. The religious establishment didn't
want to change, or hear about anything that would require a
fresh outlook or a new attitude.

Moses walked with God and the longer he did so and the
older he got, the more he loved God and desired to be with
God. Moses was a mountain climber till the day he died, and
in the solitude of those mountains he met God. So Moses
would have understood Jesus because Jesus spent so much
time alone with God, too. Moses knew God probably better
than any other human in the Old Testament. Jesus ends this
discourse by taking comfort in Moses who wasn't sufficiently
understood either!


March 3, 2011
People still refuse to believe in Jesus. Still do not know him.
There are many reasons. And much debate about the validity
of faith in a divine being in general and the God of the Bible
in particular. Pain, anger, cruelty, ignorance, injustice, doubts,
hypocrites, honest questions--they all play a part.

John the Baptist was a lamp in a darkened house, a streetlight
on a winter night, a lighthouse for lost travelers, a campfire for
cold campers, and when the road was much too long, he was
a flashlight for latecomers to find their way home.

The world is dark. There is too little light. And we need more
Johns to shine brightly and expose the goodness of God
for others to enjoy.

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