John 5:39-47

Henry Mahan

In these verses our Lord begins to make solemn application of what He has said to these Jews about His deity, His oneness with the Father, His sovereignty, His power to give life, and His saving grace. You will hear the awful charges He brings against unbelief; but it is summed up in these words, "You have not His Word abiding in you" (Vs. 38), and "You believe not His writings" (Vs. 47). If God's Word has no place in men's hearts, they will not come to Christ, they will not love God, they will not seek the Lord, nor will they be saved. It is by THE WORD that life is given, conviction of sin is realized, faith comes, and spiritual life grows.

(Vs. 39) "Search the Scriptures." This is the last witness, which our Lord cites, and for us it is the most important. John has long since passed away; the "works" of Christ are no longer before men's eyes; the "voice" of the Father is no more heard; but the testimony of the Scriptures abides. The Scriptures testify of Christ and affirm His deity (II Tim. 3:16; II Peter 1:20). Many believe that the Lord, in condemning the unbelief of these Jews, is actually saying, "You DO search the Scriptures, for you hope to find life in them, the laws and ordinances which they teach; but you are missing the message of the Scriptures, for they all testify of ME" (Acts 10:43; Luke 24:27: Luke 24:44-46). This may be so; but there is also seen here a command, not only to read over lightly but to diligently SEARCH the Scriptures.

(Vs. 40) It was not lack of evidence, which kept these Jews from believing on and coming to Christ, but perversity of WILL. It is the fault of a fallen, corrupt, and depraved will! Men are unwilling by nature to own their sin, unwilling to admit their inability, unwilling to seek God's mercy, and unwilling to cast themselves on Christ (I Cor. 2:9, 14; Rom. 8:7).

(Vs. 41) Here again the Lord maintains His honor and dignity as in Verse 34. He seeks not honor from men; there is nothing that we can add to Him. He does not need our approval, sanction, nor honor. His objective is to please and glorify His Father; and so far as they were concerned, His desire was not to be applauded by them but that they should be saved by Him. Such should be the spirit of His ministers (Acts 20:33; Gal. 1:10).

(Vs. 42) Christ knew their hearts. He is omniscient. They posed as worshippers of God, appeared to be concerned for His honor, and called Him "Lord" with their lips; but they had no genuine love for God in their hearts. A true love for and knowledge of God would have led them to love and receive Christ.

(Vs. 43) "I am come in My Father's name, clothed with His authority, sent to reveal Him and His redemptive will, in fulfillment of all that has been written of Me; yet you receive Me not! Let another (antichrist or false prophet) come in his own name, doing his own pleasure, seeking glory from men, and preaching contrary to Scriptures–Him you will receive and believe!" Such is the nature and condition of our fallen wills.

(Vs. 44) Honor signifies approbation or praise. These Jews were making it their chief aim to win the praise, approbation, and good opinion of each other and were indifferent to the approval of or communion with God. It is good for parents to receive honor from children, masters from servants, rulers from people; but these are all secondary to that honor and acceptance from God. "Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God" (II Cor. 5:9: Eph. 1:6). The grace of God and the gospel are the levelers. All men humble themselves before Him Who loved us and gave Himself for us; and we seek His friendship, acceptance, and honor, even if it means losing the approval and friendship of all the world (James 4:4).

(Vs. 45) Our Lord concludes by declaring that they would yet give an account of their rejection of Him (John 1:11) before the tribunal of God and there would be no need of His accusing them; for they would need no other accuser than Moses, for whom they had such great regard (John 9:28-29). "This same Moses will accuse you."

(Vs. 46) "For had you really believed Moses' writings, you would believe Me, for Moses wrote of Me." From the first prophecy in Gen. 3:15 through every promise, type, and pattern in his writings, Moses pointed to Christ (Heb. 8:1; Heb. 10:1-4).

(Vs. 47) If you do not believe the Scriptures, which are so plain, and you believe not Moses for whom you have so great regard, it is certain that you do not and will not believe Christ (John 3:12).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.