John 5 includes Jesus’ conversation with the religious leaders who were jealous of his popularity: these men were not of the same calibre as Nicodemus. Jesus tells them, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life” (verse 39). Their motive in searching God’s word was self-centred, they would gain prestige in the eyes of others and, they assumed, prestige in the eyes of God. By contrast Jesus said, “I do not receive glory from people” (verse 41). He then said, “I know that you do not have the love of God within you”. They had too much self-love! We need to meditate carefully on these words – what is it to love God, as distinct from knowing He exists and reading about Him in His word?
Love arises from a relationship; Jesus asks them, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (verse 44). Glory? Another word would be praise, patting one another on the back over achievements. God does not pat us on the back! Some of Paul’s words to the Romans apply here, “… a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man, but from God” (2:29).
The jealous Jewish leaders condemned Jesus for healing on the Sabbath and “even calling God his own Father” (verse 18). Jesus had said, “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing” (verse 19). He tells them, “His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you” (verse 38).
God’s word has to come alive in the minds of those who read it. The result will be an overwhelming sense of humility and awed to the depth of our hearts. What must the Creator of all things be like?
When His word abides in a human heart it lays the foundation for a true and wonderful relationship. The end result is an even more awesome contemplation, for the Master said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”. Totally committed disciples know what to ask for. Contemplate what Jesus asked for! When we come to John 17:20 we read, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word …” And the result of that belief? Read what Jesus goes on to say.
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