It’s hard to argue with someone’s own experience.
If someone had a bad experience at a restaurant, you might be able to help them understand, but you’ll probably not be successful in changing the way that person feels completely. It’s really hard to change someone’s experience.
Jesus knows this is true in our souls as well. We can get stuff stuck in there and it makes it very difficult for us to receive the life He offers.
Although we’ve taken a few weeks to go through the section, John 5:41-47 is part of a single encounter going back to the beginning of John 5. Today, we conclude Jesus’ teaching following the miracle of healing at the Bethesda Pool with John 5:41-47.
“I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 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. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”John 5:41-47
New International Version
The Jewish people lived in a world when couriers from the Emperor or Governor would deliver messages, and these messages were accepted because of the authority of the source. Jesus is coming in the Name of the King of the Universe. The religious leaders won’t accept it because there is no love of God in their hearts—there’s no loyalty to God in their hearts. Their loyalty is to their religious traditions.
The mission of the Father was reconciliation with humanity and this is exactly what Jesus was doing. But they wouldn’t accept it. Here was the “real deal” before them, verified by all the evidence, and their pride wouldn’t let them see it. Their power was too important to risk seeking the glory of God the Father in Jesus.
Jesus challenged them using one the heroes of the Jewish faith: Moses, the one who carried the Law from Sinai to the people. At this point in Jewish theological history, most schools of thought believed Moses would plead their defense before God because they had kept the Law. What a turn of events: instead, Jesus told them, “Your accuser is Moses” (verse 45)!
Then Jesus leaves them with this question in verse 47—the same question to us today—“But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” They didn’t believe the words of Moses they claimed to hold in such high esteem. Since they didn’t really believe Moses, how could they ever believe Jesus about whom Moses prophesied?
This is the question hanging over us today. So many see sign after sign pointing them to Jesus. They get second chance after second chance and they don’t believe. Christian after Christian testifies with their words and actions of the life-changing power of Christ and some never get it.
I think Blaise Pascal was correct when he wrote in his book The Art of Persuasion, “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” This was what the Jewish people of Jesus’ day did: they found a kind of authority they found attractive so they accepted it. It wasn’t the truth, but it was their belief.
Scripture asserts Jesus’ authority is given by the Father. Our beliefs or doubts don’t change His undeniable authority. His authority is undeniable: you will bow your knee either by choice or by force (Philippians 2:10-11). It’s your decision, but our loving Lord would rather have you let Him love you. He’s working to bring you home. He’s working to restore that marriage. He’s working to heal the sick, bind the broken-hearted, and save the lost.
By His authority, we testify of His works in our lives and offer His same work to others.