John 5:41-47 (NIV): “I do not accept praise from men, 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 if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise 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?”
A person’s response to Jesus is a perfect indicator of their real heart attitude toward God. If they receive Jesus, it is an indicator that they have received and follow God, because they recognize Him and His presence in Jesus. If they reject Jesus, it is because they really don’t know God; they have no real relationship with Him, and so nothing in Jesus and His teachings resonate in their hearts.
The shocking thing is that these men who were rejecting Jesus were not only men who professed to know God and His words deeply, they were the religious leaders and religious teachers of God’s people! But instead of seeking God’s glory, they had fallen into the trap of doing things in order to exalt themselves, and to receive praise from men. They rejected the teachings of the one who came in God’s name, but followed closely those of teachers and rabbis who came in their own names, gathering followers to exalt themselves. They patted each other on the back for their supposed insights and profundities, while missing the very Son of God standing before them, hating Him for His ability to teach, to do miracles, and to gather followers. They were even plotting to take His life!
Jesus’ point about Moses was that these same men were scholars of the law, and claimed to be great followers of Moses. But in all of their study and dissecting of the laws that came through Moses from God, they completely skipped over the parts that spoke about God’s promised Redeemer, who He was, what He would accomplish, and how He would do it. From Genesis 3:15 that indicated that the deliverer who would crush the head of the serpent would be the seed of a woman, not of a man; to the foretelling that He would come from the tribe of Judah; through the pictures painted of Him and His work in the Passover lamb and the lifting up of the bronze serpent; the pictures of the Messiah were there, even in the five books of Moses. But these “leaders” had no spiritual eyes to see that these prophesies were coming true right then and there. All they could see in their blinded state was that this man was threatening their positions and their authority.
Father, You tell us in Your word that the things that come from the Spirit of God are Spiritually discerned, and that they won’t be accepted by those who do not have Your Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). We can really see that in operation in these teachers of the law. Help us, Lord, to always remember our dependence on You in being able to see and understand Your truths. Help us to seek Your direction before we ever open our Bibles, so that You can open our eyes to see the wonderful things that You have written there. (Psalm 119:18) Amen.