Reading Right Past Jesus

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Jesus: The Gate To Life


John 5:31-47

Cody John Simpson

This week begin reading through one of the passion narratives in gospels and really focus your heart on what Jesus did to provide you with new life. (It’s great preparation for Easter too).


    • The general theme of this part of Jesus’ speech is the issue of “witnesses” or testimony.
      • This is important because testimony, or witnesses, is how we learn about who Jesus is. 
    • Jesus starts with His own testimony. Now, He isn’t saying His testimony is false, rather there are two ways of seeing this: One is that in OT Law you needed 2 or more witnesses, so on His own its not valid, but also the significance of His claim to divinity and bestower of eternal life requires more testimony than just His spoken affirmation.
    • V32 Jesus hints at the testimony of God the Father before turning to John:
    • V33-35 Jesus brings up the testimony of JtB. Not that JtB is the ultimate proof of who Jesus is, but he was a prophet that for a time Jewish authorities acknowledged.
    • V36-38 More powerful than JtB’s testimony is the testimony of the Father through the works He has given Jesus to perform.
      • Miracles can authenticate God’s power. 
      • Here we include the healing ministry of Jesus, and supernatural abilities, and it looks forward to the work of His sacrificial death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead. All power examples of God’s power in Jesus.
    • v 39-40 The final testimony is that of the OT. Which the Jewish authorities have refused to accept despite their deep knowledge and love for scripture. 
      • Lets double down on this, and recognize that the OT contains a multitude of prophecies and promises that point to Jesus. I’ve never counted but some claim over 300 prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus.
      • The Jewish authorities – Pharisees, scribes, etc, are experts in the OT, yet they’ve clearly missed the connection between scripture and Jesus.
        • This is distressing. Remember the risk here is not obtaining resurrection life from Jesus because one doesn’t believe Him to be God and Saviour of the world. 
        • The JA’s problem is mostly their rejection of the OT’s testimony about Jesus – what they were most familiar with. 
        • V45-47 Jesus names Moses as one who wrote about Jesus, and thus will accuse the JA of refusing Jesus. 
          • This is significant b/c Moses wrote the Law (he was the BIG prophet for Judaism), and essentially by rejecting Jesus they are rejecting the testimony of Moses. 
      • We’re left with the disturbing problem of a group of people who love the scriptures, but do not love God. Jesus says so Himself – that He knows them and they do not have a love for God. How can this be???
      • Its connected to pride:
        • Jesus says in v 41 that He does not accept glory from people – what He means is that He doesn’t need people’s praise. This isn’t what His ministry is about. BUT in v43 we see that the authorities – their own ministries, were meant to garner praise from others. They’re religious expertise was a means of self-aggrandizement. 
        • They spent unparalleled time in the scriptures, and knew every detail, yet all of their devotion was to bolster their own standing in society. Because they were self-focused they missed God entirely. And since they did not have God in their hearts from the presence of scripture, they missed him when He walked among them. 
      • Similarly we see this principle at work in the church of Corinth. As Paul writes them in 1 Corinthians 8:1
        • Here we see that knowledge (in this case the understanding that pagan idols of Greece had no real power to corrupt and pollute food) can lead to pride – a pride which causes judgement and division among brothers and sisters in Christ. 
          • This is a knowledge of something good that causes someone to act contrary to God’s will.
          • The Jewish Authorities, for all their knowledge, were motivated by murderous pride against the very God they professed.
    • What we get today as the church is a warning. 
      • For all our time spent in scripture we can completely miss God Himself. 
      • This happens when our time in scripture is motivated by our pride, rather than by our contrite repentance, thanksgiving, and praise. 
        • Notice it’s not necessarily about how much you know scripture, but the root behind our motivation. 
    • We have to remember its not by a fullness of doctrine, ability to understand the full scope of the Bible, memorize verses, or discovering the minute details of prophecy that one obtains the life that Jesus offers. 
      • Jesus says in v39 that they pore over the scriptures because they think they have eternal life in them. They don’t have eternal life though because they miss Jesus. Jesus, not the scriptures, is the source of eternal life. The scriptures tell us who Jesus is, so they are essential, but they are still not God. 
        • It was Jesus who died for our sins and through whom we have forgiveness. If we miss Jesus when we come to the Bible it does us no eternal benefit. 
            • There is a theme in human life we see told time and time again. It’s about someone losing themselves.
              • An example from politics (politics are really popular these days) A young idealist joins a party or organization because they believe its the best way to see their ideas/beliefs to be realized, but over-time and often imperceptibly, they begin fight not for the ideas but for their party or organization, even when it conflicts with their purported ideals. They’ve lost who they were and have become corrupted by pride.
            • This can happen in Christian circles as well. It’s not so much that we lose ourselves, but rather we lose sight of Jesus. We need to be aware to protect ourselves, but also protect those who are new followers of Jesus, and who are most in danger. 
            • It’s a frightening possibility, and as we continue reading about Jesus’ confrontation with the Jewish authorities we see how easy and dangerous it can be.
          • John 5:31-47