Reading the Gospel of John this morning, I can’t help but notice that this particular Gospel is just so full of….Jesus. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke contain plenty of the words of Christ also, but they have more history along with Jesus’ own words. John tells the story in his own way, and let’s his Christ do most of the talking. And talk He does. Sometimes it is difficult to simply pick something to write about, that seems to be speaking to me on a particular morning. This is what I found today.
And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. God the Father gave witness to the Son in two different ways – through His scriptures written down by Moses and the prophets in what is now the Old Testament, and through the works and miracles performed by Jesus. All the scriptures that His audience here were so familiar with had given testimony to His coming all along. And God the Father had Himself guided and empowered all the miracles Jesus had shown. This is not to mention the Father’s testimony at Jesus baptism – “And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.””Mark 1:10-11 ESV
His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. The Jews at this time knew God only through the teaching handed down through the generations, they did not have any direct experience with God themselves. The people during Moses time did actually hear God at Mt Sinai, but received their law and testimony through Moses. Between Moses and Jesus, there were prophets and wonders done by God, giving the people more direct experience with God. The last400 years before Jesus came, there were no prophets in Israel. This generation only had the testimony of God through Moses and the prophets. By rejecting Jesus, the Pharisees and others are rejecting the testimony of Yawheh Himself.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. The Pharisees loved their bibles, but they didn’t love God. They though that by following the tiniest detail of the laws and regulations handed down through Moses, they were gaining their own salvation. But in following all the commands of God in the scriptures, they forgot the two most important – love of God and love of neighbor. The test for love of God IS love of neighbor. We love God in this life by loving our neighbor, all of whom were created in His image. What is the test case for love of neighbor? Love of enemy. How do we love those who don’t love us back? Who are against us? Who might actually seek to harm us? Jesus modeled this for the Pharisees and for us, and directly told us this in His Sermon on the Mount. “”You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:43-45 ESV. So yes, the Pharisees knew all the rules, but they forgot the love. They forgot to love God and love their neighbor. They were caught up in a broken system, a system where they were holy and everyone else was unholy. An us versus them system, where unfortunately the savior of the world became one of “them”. We follow the law of Christ, not the law of Moses. The law of Moses got us started on the path to Christ, but it is not the final destination on that path. Under the law of Christ, we would do well to remember the lyric from a U2 song from a few years ago – “There is no them, there’s only us”.
“And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
John 5:37-40 ESV