Posted By Nan

John 5:31-47

My apologies for not posting a blog last week. My entire household became ill and I was not in a position to write anything. All are better this week so here is the next blog.

The two week gap gave me plenty of time to seek guidance on what to write.

For the past several months, I have been reading through the gospels. I read a small amount each day and reflect on it until the next day’s reading. Sometimes I read a sentence and have to stop to consider it. Other times I read a section.

All told this is a long but educational process to read the gospels. 

I have only just started John and it is a passage from John 5 that has been brought to my attention over the past two weeks. So much so, that I spent several days reading and re-reading the same passage and searching God for His understanding of Jesus’ words in this passage.

There were several sentences from this passage that stood out as ones God wanted me to focus on.

FIRST FOCUS: CHOOSING TO ENJOY THE LIGHT BURNING (35)

This passage relates a conversation Jesus had with “the Jews”. These would have been the temple leaders: the Pharisees, Sadducees, teachers of the law and other officials.

These people who had the most to lose from Jesus coming to earth.

They have been threatened by Jesus and challenge Him whenever they can. 

Jesus refuses to “prove” to them He is the Messiah. He tells them that His actions are testimony enough.

Because of their refusal to accept His actions, He reminds them that John the Baptist testified of Him and the Jews choose to enjoy the light John burned for God for a time.

That is important.

There was no deep spiritual connection to what John proclaimed. There was just the playing with the warmth of the fire he burned without the commitment.

I wonder how many people in today’s church choose to enjoy the light of Jesus for a time without ever committing spiritually to Jesus.

SECOND FOCUS: STUDYING THE SCRIPTURES DOES NOT GIVE ETERNAL LIFE (39-40)

Jesus continues His discussion by pointing out that His testimony is weightier than John’s. He is doing the work that God, His Father, set Him to do. This work is well documented in the Old Testament scriptures that the Jews were studying. Yet they chose not to see the truth.

Jesus told them they diligently study the scriptures because they think that will give them eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about Jesus. But the Jews refuse to see Him and come to Him. It is coming to Him that gives them life, yet they don’t come.

How many people in today’s church study the scriptures diligently and discuss all manner of obscure theological arguments, yet never come to Jesus?

THIRD FOCUS: NOT ACCEPTING THE ONE WHO COMES IN GOD’S NAME (43)

The Jews lacked God’s love. Jesus told them this plainly. They didn’t have God’s love in their hearts and refused to accept the one who has come in God’s name. Yet they are willing to accept someone else who comes in their own name.

They also sought praise from other people. Jesus made them uncomfortable. He did not praise their empty actions. Instead He told them what they were doing wrong. Yet they did not listen or change their behaviour. They preferred instead to get the praise and confirmation of men rather than praise from God.

Jesus’ argument was to ask them how they can believe if they do not listen to God.

READ ANYTHING BUT THE BIBLE: CHRISTIAN MARKETING GONE MADE

Over the years I have observed many Christians who read books others have written about faith in God. These people write extraordinary things that have no biblical basis. Yet people read them and follow them. They don’t read the Bible and meet God there. They read what other people have written and don’t meet God there.

Like the Jews they are not interested in what God wants, only what fellow humans tell them.

There is a massive, very lucrative market in Christian books. I have read some. There are some that are useful, but most of them are people’s opinions that are not backed by scripture. Yet people believe what is written in them without doing their own research and seeking God.

If you are reading this blog, I am hoping that you are reading the passage I have noted at the start and searching the passage with God’s guidance to form your own opinion.

FOURTH FOCUS: NOT EVEN BELIEVING MOSES (45-47)

This last focus is on the Jews and their choice not to believe.

Jewish belief centred on Moses. He was seen as the great lawgiver.

Despite this adherence to the importance of Moses, the Jews did not even believe Moses. 

They took what Moses had written and corrupted it to form this bizarre, uncaring, totally lacking in compassion, legalism of the Jewish faith of Jesus’ time.

Jesus pointed out that even Moses would condemn them for what they were doing.

This was a sticking point for them believing Jesus. They did not believe what Moses had written. Given that, how could they believe in Jesus?

The point to take from this?

What do we actually believe from the Bible?

If you read Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy you will see a great emphasis on love, care for others, care for foreigners, care for widows and so on. The underlying theme of God’s instructions to Moses is social justice.

How is it social justice to discriminate against people based on their skin colour, cultural identity, language, even religious faith?

How is it social justice to fail to adequately provide for the needs of those in society who are poor? To fail to provide for the needs of the unemployed, the refugee, the elderly who have given much to society, the children too young to fend for themselves, the disabled who cannot provide for themselves.

How is it social justice to fail to support the pregnant woman with nowhere to turn? Support for that woman does not involve standing outside an abortion clinic hurling abuse at the women entering. Support does not involve taking her baby away from her and failing to support her in her efforts to care for her child. Support is about compassion and actual physical help. 

How is it social justice to destroy the environment to support the greed of a few wealthy individuals at the top of a large corporation?

How is it social justice to deny people access to clean drinking water or basic medical care?

I could go on, but I hope I have made my point.

Love for God means opening our spirits to His spirit. It means being like minded and passionate about social justice. It means caring as Jesus cared.

It does not mean being legalistic and studying the scriptures with a closed heart, looking for justification rather than teaching. 

It means loving and caring. It means delighting to read the Bible to hear God’s message. It means spending time in prayer listening to God.

It means seeking a relationship with God that is spiritual, not legalistic.

 
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Nan
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