Letters to the Prison - Week 53

Hello!  We’re so grateful for this opportunity to consider God’s word together with you.  We’re in John 5 where we find Jesus calling witnesses to testify that what he says about himself is true.  So far, he’s called John the Baptist (John 5:32-35), his own works that he is performing on earth (John 5:36), and the Father Himself (5:37-38).  We saw some stunning things that Jesus says about himself –and us.  But Jesus isn’t done calling witnesses to testify that what he says about himself is true.  Look what he says next:
•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.
-John 5:39-40
Here, Jesus calls the very Scriptures of the Jewish people to bear witness about him.  We know these documents as the Old Testament.  They are largely unchanged (in their original languages) from Jesus’ day through today.  So, what we read in our Bibles in books like Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, etc. is what Jesus and the Jews read back then –the only real difference being the languages they were written in and perhaps the order in which they were arranged.  
Anyway, what Jesus says here is interesting.  The Jews were not wrong in searching the Scriptures for the key to eternal life.  But they missed it, according to Jesus.  God’s word does indeed tell us the way to eternal life and fellowship with God.  Where the Jews went wrong is when they refused to believe that Jesus was the very fulfillment of everything those Scriptures revealed.  So, the Scriptures all point to Jesus, but the Jews refuse to accept it.  Jesus even goes so far as to say specifically that Moses wrote of him (John 5:46-47) and that the Jews clearly don’t believe what Moses wrote because they don’t believe that Jesus is who he says he is.  This is a dire thing for Jesus to say to a Jewish audience.  Moses is arguably the most important human ever in Jewish history (except maybe the Messiah himself—whom Jesus claims to be).  Moses had a truly unique relationship with God.  He wrote the first five books of the Old Testament and there are certain parts of the Jewish religion that accept only those five books as Scripture.  So, for Jesus to accuse the Jewish leaders of not recognizing that Moses is pointing to him as the true source of eternal life was a fundamental offense to the Jews.  Jesus claimed that they misunderstood even the most basic writings of their own religion.  Given such an accusation, the Jews were left with only two choices:  Accept what Jesus claimed about himself and believe him --or deny him.  There was no middle ground.  Just like there is no middle ground for us today.  “undecided” was not and is not an option.  Jesus is either who says he is or not.  Yes or no.  He himself did not leave any other choice.
Jesus leaves the unbelieving Jews with a challenge; speaking of Moses, Jesus says:
•But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”  -John 5:47
Jesus is basically saying, “look, go back and read Moses again and then look at what I am doing and saying.  If you reject me, then you have to reject Moses also because Moses wrote about me and I am fulfilling everything he wrote.”  Powerful words.  And, as we know, Jesus is really good at backing up what he says.  With that in mind, we’ll move on to Chapter 6 next week!

Dean A.

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