Feb 12

Part 21: Receive and Believe

Burress McCombe |Series: The Gospel of John |John 5:31-47

We pick up in the middle of Jesus’ first discourse in John. After witnessing His miraculous healing of the paralyzed man and hearing His words, the Jews rightly conclude that Jesus is equating Himself with God. Instead of placing their faith in Him, they seek to kill Him under the charge of blasphemy.

Here in the second half of His teaching, Jesus lays out a defense of His claim to be God. Before a hostile “jury,” Jesus brings the evidence in the form of witnesses that bear testimony about Him. Though they do not actually appear before the Jews, they are well acquainted with each of the four witnesses and should find them compelling. Jesus draws their attention to John the Baptist who they knew, Jesus’ own miraculous works, God the Father, and the Scriptures. Each of them clearly give testimony that Jesus is God, but the Jews who are accusing Jesus refuse to receive that testimony.

The Jews were using the Scriptures to support their own religion – a religion that brought them glory, social status and power. In John 4, the Samaritan woman quickly identified Jesus as the prophet who Moses spoke about, but these learned Jews miss the evidence laid before their eyes. They should have identified Jesus as the Messiah, but they did not. William Hendriksen in his commentary on John says it well, “It was not lack of evidence but lack of love which [caused] these men to reject the Christ.”

We may easily dismiss the hard-heartedness of some Jews over 2,000 years ago, but that would miss how God is using this passage to till up the soil of our own hearts. Do we receive the witnesses about Jesus? Will we believe in Him as the Christ? Where are the remnants of our own man-made religion that cause us to deny the power of God or to wonder if He is truly good? Where does our unbelief rear its ugly head in the form our own pride and self-glorification?

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