“You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, and yet they testify about me. But you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.”
John 5:39-40 CSB
The words of Jesus cut straight to the point, He didn’t attempt to soften the blow when He confronted the Jew’s unbelief. He made it plain that even a heart for the Scriptures does not inevitably mean a heart for the Savior. They loved their Bibles, which at the time was simply the Old Testament, but they refused to follow Christ and completely missed the mark of everything their Bibles pointed them to. I’m writing this to you today because I am convinced we are in danger of the same problem, let me share with you why:
Seeing is not Believing
A scholar named Thomas Fuller famously said “seeing is believing”, and since then this mantra has found its way into many books and movies. Although it sounds well and good, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The author of this Gospel testifies to the deity of Christ as the son of God, and by the time you reach John 5 He has already done the following:
- He miraculously took on flesh and dwelled among us
- He turned water into wine
- He counseled and prophesied with the woman at the well
- He miraculously healed a gentile official’s son who was dying
- Then He healed a lame man on the Sabbath
These signs gathered a lot of attention, and people started to see Jesus but only some really believed. At the close of John 5, we see Jesus affirming the witnesses He has testified that He is in fact the son of God. He says to the crowd something only Jesus could say at that time, that Moses himself wrote of Christ. Moses was a witness of Christ, and yet he was the one who people had their hope set.
Hope that obeying Moses would save through the law was a false hope, though. You might even call it a dead hope. The law leads to knowledge of sin which ultimately reveals death. Yet it was his writings, that Spirit-inspired revelation, that still speaks even today of Christ Himself.
Gathering Crowds Wasn’t the Goal
It was quite a claim for someone to say to the Jews, who revere the writings of Moses perhaps higher than any other figure, that he wrote of Him. So the crowds formed, and the following developed. Jesus has developed quite a gathering of onlookers who are intrigued by His signs but didn’t really seem to want Him. Many chased him down 8 miles across the Sea of Galilee to come “not out of belief in Him as the son of God, but out of curiosity and intrigue of what was next” (John MacArthur).
Yet even still Jesus, with great compassion (Mark 6:34) looked upon these crowds and then fed them even as the Passover feast was going on. Not only that, but He gave them a sign and pointed them to the real spiritual reality of the living hope in the promised Passover lamb. That was the whole point, and yet they didn’t understand what was right before their own eyes.
As I’m sure you well know, He then went on to perform one of the most incredible miracles to date. He fed the 5,000 which was probably much more, and miraculously they all ate 5 loaves and 2 fish and still had 12 baskets of leftovers after everyone was stuffed!
An important lesson is here for us, that through Jesus will have immense compassion even upon those who refuse to follow Him, we cannot mistake the blessings He gives as affirmations that we are truly disciples. The point, as I’ll share next week, is not about getting crowds and feeding them all. It’s not about packing thousands into church buildings for pump-up “worship” services. The point is that following Jesus is life-giving, and anything short of following Him for who He truly is and what He has to offer is merely a mirage of hope.
I can assure you, I’ve tasted and seen that there is none better to follow and seek after than Jesus. I hope sincerely you have as well. He alone is the living hope that never runs out and never fails us.