Monday before last, in my essay The More Sure Word, I wrote about the fact that Jesus appealed to Scripture, rather than His own say-so or visible witness. As I stated in the post, the Son of God appealing to Scripture is a powerful witness to its authority. Yesterday and today, in my daily reading for the New Testament portion, the passage was John chapter 5. This chapter is one of the greatest Christological discourses in Scripture. The MacArthur daily Bible commentary says of this passage:
A careful reading of John 5:17–47 reveals the ultimate reason Jesus confronted the Jews’ religious hypocrisy, i.e., the opportunity to declare who He was. This section is Christ’s own personal statement of His deity. As such, it is one of the greatest Christological discourses in Scripture. Herein Jesus makes 5 claims to equality with God: 1) He is equal with God in His person (vv. 17,18); 2) He is equal with God in His works (vv. 19,20); 3) He is equal with God in His power and sovereignty (v. 21); 4) He is equal with God in His judgment (v. 22); and 5) He is equal with God in His honor (v. 23).
At the very end of this chapter, Jesus is confronting the religious Jews’ opposition to His working healing miracles on the Sabbath. He says that because He is equal to the Father and does nothing unless the Father wills it, He is not in violation of the Law (he was only ‘violating’ the oral traditions developed by the rabbis, which was in addition to the Law).
37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
Notice the presupposed condition of a true believer: a true believer has the Word abiding within, which enables the individual to believe in the Son; true believers believe the Word. And what do the scriptures bear witness to? Jesus, the Christ. These religious Jews had missed the entire point of the Old Testament.
And then a bit later on, the damning words of the awaited Messiah:
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
The religious Jews prided themselves on being descendents of Moses; being God’s chosen people. Sadly, their pride was based in nationalism and their false assumption was that because they were physical decedents of Moses (and Abraham), they were automatically saved. Their focus was not on God and His eternal kingdom, but rather on a political kingdom. They had completely missed the central message of the Old Testament: Christ. They elevated Moses to a pedestal reserved for God, and yet they didn’t believe their revered Moses’ words. Jesus, yet again, pointed and appealed to the authority of Scripture. If they did not believe already what the Scriptures said of Him, they would not believe even Him. Wow.
Soli Deo Gloria!