Mistaken identity

Slices

Prepare

Ask God to show you something new about Jesus as you read today’s passage. Be prepared for God to open your eyes to fresh insights about our Saviour.

Bible passage

John 5:31–47

Testimonies about Jesus

31 ‘If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favour, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

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 works that the Father has given me to finish – the very works that I am doing – testify 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 study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41 ‘I do not accept glory from human beings, 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 since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only 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?’

Bench with view

Explore

We often think of the Jewish leaders in the New Testament as pantomime villains – after all, they are mostly responsible for Jesus’ death. In fact, some Pharisees (like Nicodemus in chapter 3) become secret disciples and follow Jesus. The problem with the Pharisees isn’t that they were faithless but that their faith blinded them to God’s love.

I think that verses 39 and 40 are among the saddest in the New Testament: ‘You study the Scriptures diligently … yet you refuse to come to me to have life.’ The Pharisees spent their lives poring over God’s word, trying to live according to the Law of Moses. They expected the Messiah to come, yet when Jesus stands before them, they don’t recognise him.

The reason that Jesus doesn’t fulfil their expectations is that in fulfilling God’s great law of love he breaks the lesser law of the Sabbath (eg 5:9,10). It wasn’t that Sabbath rest wasn’t important, but God doesn’t take a day off from healing the world, and Jesus is continuing his Father’s work. The Pharisees are passionately, and tragically, wrong. Can we sometimes get trapped by our own assumptions and miss what God might be saying to us?

Author
Toby Hole

Respond

Do we have ideas about God (perhaps given to us when we were young) that need challenging? How might we use scripture to give us a better picture of his love?

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year: 1 Chronicles 15,16; Malachi 3,4

Pray for Scripture Union

Pray for Faith Guides in the south west who will be taking groups to SPREE SW (run by SWYM and supported by SU from 21 to 23 June). This event has streams reflecting the Revealing Jesus framework; one for those wanting to Grow in faith and another to enable the move from Explore to Respond.

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