Daily Readings in John – Day Seventeen
October 19, 2017
John 5:30-47 (NRSV)
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. 33 You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But I have a testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.
39 “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 I do not accept glory from human beings. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”
Welcome to argumentative Jesus, who we’ll see off and on for the next three chapters, I’m afraid. Consider yourself warned. My primary image of Jesus isn’t as a rabbinic debater, but that’s exactly the side of him John shows us in significant portions of chapters 5 through 8.
As a reminder, Jesus was spurred into this line of conversation when his encounter with a disabled outcast radically changed that man’s life for good, but the local religious conservatives were offended by the time of the week Jesus helped him.
I pick up on two themes here that speak to me today. We choose our truth. And we choose our judge.
We choose our truth.
Jewish law governed valid testimony in discerning truth claims. If you had something important to say, or a case to adjudicate, you couldn’t testify on your own behalf, but needed two Jewish men to testify for you. Jesus says he doesn’t need people to back him up, but that John (the baptizer we met in Chapter 1) spoke on his behalf, and that he’s got two more witnesses – the awesome things he’s doing, and God himself.
So John, God, and his actions. Jesus plays a little fast and loose with the whole “two people” requirement, but he doesn’t seem to care. Listen to him or not. Read your Bible if you want to look there, but it’s possible you could hit a dead end there. Choose your truth, but see if Jesus can give you more life.
Meanwhile, we also choose our judge, the authority or standard for our lives. In the case of this dispute, Jesus finds irony in his adversaries appealing to the Mosaic law, given that Jesus thinks Moses points to him. That said, Jesus isn’t eager to accuse anybody. He is eager to love and save and give life.
What positive or negative experiences do you have with discovering truth or with authority that judges you?
What hopes do you have for deeper truth or better judgement that you could ask Jesus for?