“Testify” – John 5:31-47

April 5th, 2020 – Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday – Lamb Selection Day

John 5:31-47


Call to Worship: Psalm 118

Aux. text: Lk 19:28-44


Service Orientation: Refusing to believe in Jesus is not from a lack of credible evidence but from an arrogant, willful, rebellious perspective.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week: The eye is the lamp of the body.  If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! — Matthew 6:22-23


Background Information:

  • (v. 35) If the Jews would remember that healthy response to John’s preaching and recognize in Jesus the one whom the Baptist announced, then John’s witness would prove extraordinarily fruitful. The sad reality, however, was that far too many chose to enjoy his light only for a time.  The integrity of commitment was no greater than the depth of belief of those described in 2:23-25.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 261)
  • (v. 35)For a season” was used here to show these people how unstable they were. John’s ministry stirred and moved them–but only for a little while.  John did not change; his ministry remained the same; but the crowds who had followed him changed shortly.  (Oliver B. Greene, The Gospel According to John, Vol. 1, 305)
  • (v. 36) Anyone who has followed John’s Gospel this far will know that these works are not some mere demonstration that Jesus is a notable human being, perhaps a prophet, following the conclusion of Nicodemus (3:2). The argument in this verse turns on the exposition of the Father/Son relationship found in 5:19-30.  All that Jesus does is nothing more and nothing less than what the Father gives him to do.  The works he does are thus peculiarly divine:  they are the works of God.  Once this Father/Son relationship is grasped, everything Jesus does simultaneously attests who he is and who the Father is.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 261-2)
  • (v. 37) In verse 37 we see the beginning of Jesus’ charge against his contemporaries, those who watched it all going on and turned away in disbelief. In fact, we see the beginning of what turns out to be the alternative “trial” in the gospel.  It isn’t really Jesus who is on trial.  He, after all, is the judge, who will carry out God’s just judgment (verse 30).  It is the people who are watching, listening and then ignoring him.  They are the ones on trial.  (N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part One, 66-7)
  • (v. 39) This is one of six passages in the Fourth Gospel where Scripture or some writer of OT Scripture is said to speak or write of Christ, even though no specific passage is adduced (cf. 1:45; 2:22; 3:10; 5:45-46; 20:9). (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 263)
  • (vss. 39-40) The Greek here is ambiguous. It could mean “You study the Scriptures” or “Study the Scriptures.”  We should almost certainly take it as indicative. . . . Had they rightly read the Scriptures they would no doubt have come to recognize the truth of his claims.  But they read them with a wooden and superstitious reverence for the letter, and they never penetrated to the great truths to which they pointed.  The result is that in the presence of him to whom the Scriptures bear witness, in the presence of him who could have given them life, they are antagonistic.  The words convey a rebuke for the wrong attitude of the Jews to scripture, coupled with a profound respect for the sacred writings.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 292-3)
  • (v. 42) These leaders had a third problem, and this was the lack of love in their hearts. “Ye have not the love of God in you” (Jn 5:42).  This means the experience of God’s love for them as well as their expression of love for God.  They claimed to love God, but their attitude toward Jesus Christ proved that their love was counterfeit.  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 88)
  • (v. 43) Jesus revealed more of their hearts in verse 43: “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.”  That actually happened.  Subsequent historical accounts tell us there were no less than 63 Messianic claimants who attracted followers.  There false prophets gained adherents because their claims corresponded with men’s desires.  They offered easy victory and political and material power. While Christ offered a cross.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 173)(bold red emphasis -PK)
  • (v. 43) This prophecy was fulfilled over and over again. One false Messiah was Theudas; and another, Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:36, 37).  Then came Barkochba (132-135 A.D.), whom such a distinguished rabbi as Akiba called The Star of Jacob (Nm 24:17).  There have been several scores of others since their days.  The last one will be the antichrist himself (2 Thess 2:8-10).  All of these present themselves without proper credentials:  they come “in their own name.”  Yet people yield their all to them.  They lead many astray.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John, 210)
  • (v. 43) If he stooped to become the kind of Messiah they wanted, doubtless he could attract their praise. But his entire commitment is to please his Father (5:19 ff.), receiving the honor that only the Father can bestow (5:23), enjoying the “glory” of the one and only Son from the Father (1:14).  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 264)
  • (v. 44) “How can you (the pronoun is emphatic) believe?” he asks.  The thing is impossible with people whose habit it is to receive glory from each other, and who do not make a practice of seeking the glory of the one God.  The issue is the glory of self or the glory of God.  It is an issue that divides people still.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 294-5)
  • (v. 45) 45. In the great assize on the last day, it will not be Jesus who presses the charges and prosecutes the Jews he is addressing.  His primary purpose is to save, not condemn (3:17).  In any case there is no need for him to assume this role: Moses will be their accuser, the very Moses whom they esteem so highly as the mediator of the Sinai covenant, the one through whom God had given the law they so highly venerated (cf. Rom 2:17).  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 265)


The questions to be answered are . . . How does Jesus expect us to believe that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God?  Why don’t some believe?


Answers: Jesus points out that unbelievers are not that way because they have examined the evidence and found it wanting.  They don’t believe in Jesus because they don’t want to believe in Jesus.


Your perspective filters information – both positively and negatively. — Joel Barker


From Passover to Pentecost, the eleven Apostles went from cowards who were fearful of suffering repercussions from the Jewish leaders, to preaching “in your face” sermons directed at those same Jewish leaders.  What changed?  Their perspective.  The Apostles  “saw” things differently in light of the resurrection.  But, it took their facing their cowardice to allow them to become bold.

In three short days, the Apostle Paul went from being Jesus’ enemy to Jesus’ greatest ally.  What changed?  His perspective.   Paul started to “see” things differently.  But, it took his blindness to allow him to truly see.  Allow God the Holy Spirit and His Word to empower you through a change of your perspective— PK


The Word for the Day is . . . Perspective


God sees the view–we see a speck of it.  That’s why it’s called a “point of view.”


“To be “spiritually minded” simply means to look at earth from heaven’s perspective.” (Warrren Wiersbe; Be Joyful, 104)


It is sad when someone who has been a Christian for a while is illiterate when it comes to the things of the Bible.  Probably one of the greatest problems we are seeing in the church today is a complete ignorance of what the Bible actually teaches.  After conducting a study that revealed that less than one in every 10 believers possess a Biblical worldview as the basis for his or her decision-making and behavior, researcher George Barna pointed out that the Christian body in the United States is immersed in a crisis of Biblical illiteracy.  The most widely known “verse” among adults and teens who claimed to be believers was “God helps those that help themselves.”  The problem is that you won’t find it in the Bible.

Your worldview matters.  And it is not a question as to whether you have a worldview; it is whether you have a biblical one.  Your worldview, the way that you see life, is formed by many things.  It can be formed by the culture you are raised in, by your upbringing, by the books you read, by your education, and by the media you expose yourself to.  And the reason your worldview is important is that it is comprehensive.  It affects everything you do, from your personal morality to the way you spend your money to the way you vote to the way you live.

So what is a Christian worldview?  Simply put, there is a living God, and He has revealed himself in Scripture.  Therefore as Christians, we believe that we can find absolute truth from the Bible, regardless of what is politically correct, regardless of what we feel is right or not right.  We base our beliefs on what the Bible teaches.  That is what it means to have a Christian worldview.  — Greg Laurie


The characteristics of Christian discipleship are, from the world’s perspective, the marks of losers. . . . The characteristics of the ungodly are the marks of those who have made it.  (Alister Begg, A Christian Manifesto, Part 2: from Lk 6:20-27,  26:32 into the sermon)


What do we learn about faith in Jesus from this passage?:

  1. God gives ample evidence for having saving faith in Jesus. (Jn 5:33-36; see also: Dt 19:15; 31:26; Psa 19:7-14; Jn 3:11; 8:12-13; Rom 1:18-25; 1 Jn 5:9-10)


The witness of John the Baptist, the witness of the divine miracles, and the witness of the Word of God all unite to declare that Jesus Christ is indeed one with the Father and the very Son of God.  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 89)


Why should they consider Jesus  reliable?

In answer to these questions and in deference to the procedure of Jewish law, which required two or three witnesses for the establishment of any fact, Jesus now cites three independent testimonies that reinforce and corroborate his own.  They are the testimony of John the Baptist, the witness of Jesus’ miracles, and the witness of the OT Scriptures.  These supportive witnesses are important for us simply because they are still valid.  They require belief in Christ’s claims.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 404)


Jesus simply means, “If I testify concerning myself, my testimony is not true in your estimation.” . . . This interpretation is certainly supported by the fact that this very thing happened a little later, as indicated in 8:12, 13.  There Jesus is recorded as testifying concerning himself, and saying, “I am the light of the world.”  Immediately the Pharisees shout their objection, “You are testifying concerning yourself:  your testimony is not true.”  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John, 206-7)


The miracles revealed Christ’s nature.  Taken with the witness of the Baptist, they are quite important.  Yet both fade into relative unimportance in light of the final witness, which is the witness of the Word of God.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 416)


  1. John the Baptist’s testimony.  (Jn 5:33-35; see also: Mt 3:1-17; 21:23-27; Mk 1:1-8; Lk 3:1-18; Jn 1:6-9, 21-23, 36)


John’s testimony supported Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah.  Since he was generally regarded by the people as a prophet of God (Mt 21:26; Lk 20:6)–the first one in four centuries–his testimony carried considerable weight.  The authorities acknowledged John’s importance by sending a delegation to hear him.  But just like their fathers had rejected the prophets God sent to them (cf. 2 Kgs 17:13-14; 2 Chr 24:19; Jer 7:25-26; 25:4; 29:16; 44:4-5), they rejected John’s witness.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 209-10)


The witness he receives is not “human testimony” (cf. 2:24-25).  The whole emphasis of this passage is on the divine attestation of Jesus.  His purpose in referring to John, then, is not to adduce further confirmation of what he already knows from God.  It is to direct the attention of his hearers to that which might put them on the right way.  John’s witness, if heeded, could start them out on the path that leads to salvation.  This had, in fact, happened to some of the Twelve.  They had been numbered among John’s followers, but had left him to follow Jesus, in accordance with John’s own witness (cf. 1:35-37).  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 289)


Here, as elsewhere, we should note how our Lord presses home on the Jews the inconsistency of admitting John the Baptist to be a prophet sent from God, while they refused to believe Himself as the Messiah.  If they believed John they ought in consistency to have believed Him (see Mt 21:23-27).  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 309)


John (the Baptist) knew who Jesus was and faithfully declared what he knew to the people of Israel.  John told the people that Jesus was the Lord (Jn 1:23), the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29, 36), and the Son of God (Jn 1:34).  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 86)


The prophetic nature of John’s mission is indicated also by the statement that John did not speak on his own accord but rather as one who had been sent by God.  This statement is repeated twice in the fourth Gospel.  It is found first in the prologue, where we are told, “There was a man who was sent from God; his name was John” (1:6).  Later it is found on the lips of John himself in the statement, “I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him” (3:38).  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 406)


The thrill seekers may have rejoiced temporarily in John’s ministry, but they missed its purpose–to point out Jesus as the Messiah.  They were superficially drawn to John (cf. those similarly drawn to Jesus in 2:23-25), but they lacked genuine repentance.  Ultimately, they turned away from the light of truth that John (cf. those similarly drawn to Jesus in 2:23-25), but they lacked genuine repentance.  Ultimately, they turned away from the light of truth that John reflected, because they loved the evil deeds of darkness (3:19).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 210)


  1. Jesus’ work. (Jn 5:36; see also: Jn 3:2; 5:17-20; 7:31; 10:25, 37-38; 11:47; 14:10-11; 15:22-24; 17:4; 20:30-31; Heb 2:3-4)


You will remember that John selected seven of these “signs” to include in his gospel as proof that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn 20:30-31).  Jesus made it clear that His works were the works of the Father (Jn 5:17-20; 14:10).  Even Nicodemus had to admit that our Lord’s miracles identified Him as sent from God (Jn 3:2).  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 86-7)


Here is the first witness to which Christ appeals in proof of His Deity.  His “works” bore unmistakable witness to Him.  He gave hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, sight to the blind, cleansing to the leper, deliverance to the captives of the Devil, life to the dead.  He walked the waves, stilled the wind, calmed the sea, He turned water into wine, cleansed the Temple singlehanded, and fed a great multitude with a few loaves and fishes.  And these miracles were performed by His own inherent power.  To these works He now directs attention as furnishing proof of His Deity.  Quite frequently did He appeal to His “works” as affording Divine testimony: see Jn 10:25, 38; 14:11; 15:24.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 277)


The miracles reveal God.  God is seen in the miracles.  Thus, the miracles of healing show that Jesus is the Lord and giver of life.  The multiplication of the loaves shows that he is the sustainer of life.  The healing of the blind man shows that he grants physical and spiritual sight.  The list can be extended.  Jesus refers to the evidential value of the miracles when he cries, “Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does.  But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father” (10:37-38).  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 406)


The miracles of Christ, as indeed all his works, both miraculous and nonmiraculous alike, show us his nature.  They disclose his ability to fill the vacuum of the heart.

Let me state it in slightly different language.  In John the signs are not occasioned by faith.  They are occasions for faith.  They are given to provoke faith, and strengthen it.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 414)


Jesus’ words have particular force, set as they are in the context of the healing of the lame man.  Before the very eyes of the Jews there was evidence of divine power.  And they rejected it!  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 290)


  1. God Himself. (Jn 5:37-38; see also: Mt 3:17; 17:5; Mk 9:7; Lk 9:35; Jn 12:28-30; 14:10; Heb 23:3-4; 1 Jn 5:9-10)


The Father had testified about Jesus through the prophecies of the OT as well as in the words he spoke at Jesus’ baptism.  (Gary P. Baumler, The People’s Bible: John, 86)


It is no accident in this connection that in the verses we are studying, although Jesus does speak of Moses as having been responsible for part of the Bible (vv. 45-47), he nevertheless begins with the statement that the Scriptures in their entirety are God’s witness to his messianic claims.  This is the course of the argument in the fifth chapter.  God bears witness to Jesus (vv. 30-32).  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 422)


No one can see God in the full glory of His infinite holy essence (Ex 33:20; Jn 1:18; 1 Tm 6:16; 1 Jn 4:12).  However there were times, throughout Israel’s history, when God audibly or visibly interacted with His people.  For example, He spoke to Moses (Ex 33:11; Nm 12:8), the Israelites of the exodus (Dt 4:12, 15; 5:5), and the prophets (Heb 1:1).  He also appeared, in some physical manifestation of His presence, to Jacob (Gn 32:30), Gideon (Jdg 6:22), Manoah (Jdg 13:20), and others (Gn 16:13; Ex 24:9-11; Isa 6:5).  Yet the unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day, who had both the OT Scriptures and the full revelation of God in Jesus Christ (1:18; 14:9; cf. Col 2:9; Heb 1:3), did not have God’s word abiding in them, for they did not believe Him whom God sent.  They refused to listen to Jesus, God’s final revelation to mankind (Heb 1:2).  And, in so doing, they displayed their total ignorance of God, since those who reject Jesus cannot know the Father (cf. 5:23; 8:19; 14:6; 15:23).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 212)


  1. God’s Word. (Jn 5:39; see also: Dt 27:26; 31:26; Ps 119:11, 105; Mt 5:17; Lk 24:25-27, 32, 44-49; Jn 17:17; 2 Pt 1:21; 2 Tm 3:15-16) {From 3-28-2010 sermon notes: Can Pastor Keith faithfully present Jesus from the Pentateuch of the Old Testament?  Mt 1:22; 2:5, 15, 17, 23; 3:3; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:14, 35; 21:4, 42; 26:54; 27:9; Mk 1:2; 7:6; 12:10; 14:49; Lk 3:4; 4:21; 18:31; 21:22; 22:37; 24:13-35, 44; Jn 1:44-45; 5:39-40, 45-47; 8:54-59; 12:12-19, 37-43; 13:18-19; 15:22-25; 17:12; 19:24-36; 20:9}


We may sum up Christ’s teaching in this chapter by saying that according to Jesus: 1) the Bible is given by God, 2) the purpose of the Bible is to point to himself, and 3) to use the Bible in any other way is ultimately to misunderstand it and pervert its intention.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 422)


We must begin by asking the questions:  How did the Jews misuse the Scriptures?  Can we misuse them in the same way?  The first answer, according to these words of Jesus, is obviously that the Jews misused Scripture by treating the words of Scripture as an end in themselves rather than allowing them to do their primary work, which is to point to Jesus.  They searched the Scriptures, but they did not come to Christ.  We err along the same lines whenever we allow Bible study to become academic and, as a result, do not allow ourselves to be drawn closer to God because of it.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 428)


We ought to believe that Christ cannot be properly known in any other way than from the Scriptures; and if it be so, it follows that we ought to read the Scriptures with the express design of finding Christ in them.  (Calvin’s Commentary on the Gospel of John, 218)


Jesus insists that there is nothing intrinsically life-giving about studying the Scriptures, if one fails to discern their true content and purpose.  These are the Scriptures, Jesus says, that testify about me.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 263)


Here are three great openings–the opening of the Scriptures, the opening of the eyes, and the opening of the mind.  All three need to be reproduced in the life of every growing Christian.  To have the Scriptures opened in the right way is to open the eyes to Christ.  This in turn opens eyes in a new way to the Scriptures.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 426)


The Holy Writings, given by inspiration of God, were the final court of appeal.  What importance and authority does He attach to them!  Beyond them there was no appeal: above them no higher authority:  after them no further witness.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 279-80)


Once we realize that the OT is a revelation of the Lord Jesus, and we must find Him somewhere on every page, the study of the OT will be transformed from a dull and wearying task, to a thrilling, exciting exercise as we look for His face, hidden among the incidents recorded in the Book.  This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Search the scriptures; . . . they are they which testify of me (Jn 5:39).  (M. R. DeHaan, Portraits of Christ in Genesis, 29)


God’s Word will never be outdated, irrelevant, obsolete or out of touch.  If we ever think that God’s Word has become any of these things we can be assured that we are either steeped in sin so we are blind to the truth, or we are totally ignorant of what God’s Word actually says.  — PK


Biblical authority must never depend on human verification for it is the unquestionable Word of God.

The problem with much of the popular tactics used by many defenders of the faith today may be summed up as a problem of authority.  The apologist must see clearly that the nonChristian is in need of forsaking his commitment to independence and should turn in faith to the authority of Christ.  If however, trust in Christ is founded on logical consistency, historical evidence, scientific arguments, etc., then Christ is yet to be received as the ultimate authority.  The various foundations are more authoritative than Christ himself. . . if beliefs in Christian truth comes only after the claims of Christ are run through the verification machine of independent human judgment, then human judgment is still thought to be the ultimate authority.  (Richard L. Pratt, Jr.; Every Thought Captive A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth, 79-80)


Paul discovered that the law was not life-giving in itself (Rom 7:10), and argues that, granted the sinfulness of the human race, no such life-giving law was possible (Gal 3:21).  Jesus Christ is the one to whom the Father has granted the right to have life in himself and to impart it to others (5:21, 26), as the Prologue has already suggested (1:4).  He is “the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes” (Rom 10:4).  Like John the Baptist (vv. 33-35), the Scriptures, rightly understood, point away from themselves to Jesus.  (D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, 263-4)


Here Christ would indicate the principal reason why the Scripture was given by God.  Men are to study and search in it and to learn that He, He, Mary’s Son, is the one who is able to give eternal life to all who come to Him and believe on Him.  Therefore he who would correctly and profitably read Scripture should see to it that he finds Christ in it; then he finds life eternal without fail.  On the other hand, if I do not so study and understand Moses and the prophets as to find that Christ came from Heaven for the sake of my salvation, became man, suffered, died, was buried, rose, and ascended to Heaven so that through Him I enjoy reconciliation with God, forgiveness of all my sins, grace, righteousness, and life eternal, then my reading in Scripture is of no help whatsoever to my salvation.  I may, of course, become a learned man by reading and studying Scripture and may preach what I have acquired; yet all this would do me no good whatsoever.  For if I do not know and do not find the Christ, neither do I find salvation and life eternal.  In fact, I actually find bitter death; for our good God has decreed that no other name is given among men whereby they may be saved except the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).  (Martin Luther, What Luther Says, Vol. 1, 69-70)


The revelation of God is a revelation in history.  It is not God speaking, but God acting.  The Bible itself is not his revelation; it is the record of his revelation.  But they worshiped the Bible’s words.

There is only one proper way to read the Bible–to read it as all pointing to Jesus Christ.  Then many of the things which puzzle us, and sometimes distress us, are clearly seen as stages on the way, a pointing forward to Jesus Christ, who is the supreme revelation and by whose light all other revelation is to be tested.  The Jews worshiped a God who wrote rather than a God who acted and therefore when Christ came they did not recognize him.  The function of the scriptures is not to give life, but to point to him who can.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 198)


The OT Scriptures bear witness to Jesus Christ, yet the people who received and preserved that Word were blind to their own Messiah.  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 87)


In the eighteenth century and particularly in the nineteenth century a critical appraisal of the Scriptures, backed by a naturalistic rationalism, succeeded in dislodging the Bible from the place it had previously held.  For the church of the age of rationalism the Bible became men’s word about God rather than God’s word to man.  And when people rejected the unique, divine character of the Bible, the rejected its authority also.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 417)


Men wrote, but God stood behind the writing.  Men used their own vocabulary and literary style, but God nevertheless guided them in the choice of the words and guaranteed the outcome.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 418)


  1. Moses. (Jn 5:46-47; see also: Gn 3:15; Nm 21:9; 24:17; Dt 18:15-18; Lk 16:27-31; 24:27, 44; Jn 1:45; Acts 26:22; 28:23)


Those who reject the books of Moses, reject Christ.  Those who reject Christ reject the books of Moses.  To believe in one is to believe in the other.  To deny one is to deny the other.  (Oliver B. Greene, The Gospel According to John, Vol. 1, 318)


Moses had written about Christ (see Gn 3:15; Nm 21:9; 24:17; Dt 18:15-18; see also Lk 24:44), but since they did not believe in Christ when he came, they did not really believe in the writings of Moses.  (Bruce B. Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: John, 119)


It should come as no surprise that those who did not believe Moses’ writings would not believe Christ’s words either.  If they rejected the truths taught by Moses, whom they revered, they could hardly be expected to accept the teaching of Jesus, whom they reviled.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 215)


They would have been ready to die for what Moses taught.  And yet here is the Son of God solemnly declaring that these Jews did not believe Moses, and furnishing proof by showing that if they had really believed Moses’ writings they had believed in Christ, of whom Moses wrote.  How terribly deceptive is the human heart!  “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prv 14:12).  O, dear reader, make certain that you believe, really, savingly believe on the Son of God.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 284)


And if these people who professed to be Moses’ disciples, who honored Moses’ writings as sacred Scripture, who gave an almost superstitious reverence to the letter of the law, if these people did not really believe the things that Moses had written and which were the constant objects of their study, then how could they possibly believe the words, the spoken words of Jesus?  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 295)


The purpose of the Law of Moses was to reveal man’s need, his sinfulness.  At the end of Moses’ life, he called the Levites together and delivered the Law to them.  “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God.  There it will remain as a witness against you” (Dt 31:26).

In other words, the Law was a witness against our sins.  The Ten Commandments were meant to bring us to the end of ourselves so we would come to Christ.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 174)


Jesus probably did not have one particular passage (such as Dt 18:15) in mind, but rather the entire Pentateuch that, along with the rest of the OT, points unmistakably to Him (cf. Lk 24:27).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 215)


The law of Moses could not save sinners and give them eternal life; it could only expose their sinfulness.  By such exposure Moses prepared the way for the Son of God who made forgiveness a reality and enabled men to receive praise from God.  If the Jews therefore really believed Moses; if, in other words, they were really longing for divine forgiveness and for eternal life, they would now be believing in Jesus.  (R.V. G. Tasker, Tyndale NT Commentaries: John, 90)


They were proud of their connection with the great lawgiver.  But Moses, not Jesus, is their accuser before God.  The present tense signifies that Moses is a standing witness against them, a present accuser.  They thought that they followed Moses, and could even make this their point of departure when disputing with the man born blind (9:28).  They had “set (their) hope” on him.  But just as they misunderstood the Scriptures in general, so they perverted the writings of Moses in particular.  “The law of Moses is not a religion of salvation, it is the categorical imperative of God by which men are accused and exposed as sinners” (Hoskyns).  Had they really paid heed to Moses they would have been convicted of their sin and eager to recognize the Savior.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 295)


  1. Unbelief in Jesus is rooted in an arrogant, willful, and rebellious perspective. (5:38b, 40-44, 45b, 47; see also: Mt 6:22-23;  23:37; 28:11-13; Lk 11:33-36; 13:34; Jn 3:19-21; ch 9; 11:9-10; Rom 1:18-32; 2:8; 13:12; 2 Cor 4:4-6; 3:14-18; Eph 4:18) {see HFM sermon outline for 3-1-15 pt. IV}


We humans have a fatal tendency to try to adjust the truth to fit our desires rather than adjusting our desires to fit the truth.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 32)


Augustine was right when he said that we love the truth when it enlightens us, but we hate it when it convicts us.  Maybe we can’t handle the truth.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 36)


People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.  —Blaise Pascal


They did not humbly learn a theology from scripture; they used scripture to defend a theology which they themselves had produced.  There is still danger that we should use the Bible to prove our beliefs and not to test them.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 198)


Although we believe the evidence we’re about to present shows that the Bible is true beyond reasonable doubt, no amount of evidence can compel anyone to believe it.  Belief requires assent not only of the mind but also of the will.  While many non-Christians have honest intellectual questions, we have found that many more seem to have a volitional evidence to believe, it’s that they don’t want to believe.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 30)


Self-glorification will keep us from the truth, and in fact any moral deficiency is capable of doing so.  Finding the truth is as much a matter of the heart as of the mind.  A man may say, “I’ve read the  Bible, and I want to believe it, but I just can’t.”  But further conversation reveals he is having an affair or is short-changing his boss or is fudging on his income tax return.  He cannot believe when he is in that state.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 173)


They read it not to search for God but to find arguments to support their own positions.  They did not really love God; they loved their own ideas about him.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 198)


They loved their own opinions about the Word of God.  And that wrong self-love kept them from loving God.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 173)


It is not scientific doubt, not atheism, not pantheism, not agnosticism, that in our day and in this land is likely to quench the light of the gospel.  It is a proud, sensuous, selfish, luxurious, church-going, hollow-hearted prosperity.  [Frederic D. Huntington, Forum magazine, 1890]   (Francis Chan, Crazy Love, 65)


True faith does not depend merely on the state of man’s head and understanding, but on the state of his heart.  His mind may be convinced:  his conscience may be pricked:  but so long as there is anything the man is secretly loving more than God, there will be no true faith.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 317)


Unbelief does not arise so much from want of evidence, as from want of will to believe.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 303)


It was not lack of evidence but perversity of will which kept these Jews from coming to Christ.  And it is so still.  The Lord Jesus stands ready to receive all who come to Him; but by nature men are unwilling, unwilling to come to Him that they “might have life.”  But why is this?  It is because they fail to realize their awful peril:  did they but know that they are standing on the brink of the Pit, they would flee from the wrath to come.  Why is it?  It is because they have no sense of their deep and desperate need:  did they but apprehend their awful condition–their wickedness, their blindness, their hardheartedness, their depravity–they would hasten to the great Physician to be healed by Him.  Why is it?  It is because the carnal mind is enmity against God, and Christ is God.  (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, 281)


It is the darkness of fallen human nature, a predisposition to embrace falsehood (cf. Jn 18:37) and to love corruption (Jn 3:19).  It is the love of sin that John equates with blindness (Jn 9:41).  It would be a serious mistake to underestimate the power and pervasiveness of this corrupting darkness.   (David Wells; God in the Wasteland, 42)


Remember the cliché “I’ll believe it when I see it!”  From what I have said in this book, you should conclude, that the reverse is more accurate:  “I’ll see it when I believe it.”  In other words, subtle vision is preceded by an understanding of the rules.  To see well, we need paradigms.   (Joel Arthur Barker; Future Edge, 153)


It’s been observed in surveys that the average person believes he is better than the average person.  We are blind to our own blindness.  (David Jeremiah, Captured by Grace, 69)


With all their apparent desire to hear and learn, they cared more in reality for pleasing man than God.  In this state of mind they were never likely to believe.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 317)


There’s a difference between proving a proposition and accepting a proposition.  We might be able to prove Christianity is true beyond reasonable doubt, but only you can choose to accept it.  Please consider this question to see if you are open to acceptance:  If someone could provide reasonable answers to the most significant questions and objections you have about Christianity–reasonable to the point that Christianity seems true beyond a reasonable doubt–would you then become a Christian?  Think about that for a moment.  If your honest answer is no, then your resistance to Christianity is emotional or volitional, not merely intellectual.  No amount of evidence will convince you because evidence is not what’s in your way–you are.  In the end, only you know if you are truly open to the evidence for Christianity.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 31)


The devil can traffic in any area of darkness, even the darkness that still exists in a Christian’s heart.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 15)


Self is a great let to divine things; therefore the prophets and apostles were usually carried out of themselves, when they had the clearest, choicest, highest, and most glorious visions.  Self-seeking blinds the soul that it cannot see a beauty in Christ, nor an excellency in holiness; it distempers the palate, that a man cannot taste sweetness in the word of God, nor in the ways of God, nor in the society of the people of God.  It shuts the hand against all the soul-enriching offers of Christ; it hardens the heart against all the knocks and entreaties of Christ; it makes the soul as an empty vine, and as a barren wilderness: “Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit to himself” (Hos 10:1).  There is nothing that speaks a man to be more empty and void of God, Christ, and grace, than self-seeking.  (Thomas Brooks; Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 189)


The Pharisees enjoyed being honored by men (see Mt 23:1-12), and they did not seek for the honor that comes from God alone.  They did not honor the Son (Jn 5:23) because He did not honor them!  (Warren W. Wiersby, Be Alive, 88)


They do not believe him whom the Father sent.  Their unbelief excludes the possibility of intercourse with God.  But their unbelief is also the reason why they do not have the word abiding in them.  Both senses are true and probably both are meant.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 291)


Data are always interpreted by scientists.  When those scientists let their personal preferences or unproven philosophical assumptions dictate their interpretation of the evidence, they do exactly what they accuse religious people of doing–they let their ideology dictate their conclusions.  When that’s the case, their conclusions should be questioned, because they may be nothing more than philosophical presuppositions passed off as scientific facts.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 127-28)


“You refuse to come to me” stresses the activity of the will; the Jews set themselves against Jesus.  It is not unlike Lk 13:34: “O Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”  There is the same thought of a tender eagerness to save, met by a stubborn refusal to be saved.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 293)


They make a profession of loving him, but in fact there is no real love.  This is always the case where religion is basically self-willed.  The Jews worked out their pattern of religion and tried to fit God into it.  They did not seek first the way of God and then try to model their religious practices on it.  They succumbed to the perennial temptation of religious people.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 293-4)


The Jews had their succession of impostors claiming to be the Messiah and every one had his following (cp. Mk 13:6, 22; Mt 24:5, 24).  Why do men follow impostors?  Because they are “men whose claims correspond with men’s own desires.”  The impostors became promising empires and victory and material prosperity; Jesus came offering a Cross.  The characteristic of the impostor is the offer of the easy way; Jesus offered men the hard way of God.  The impostors perished and Christ lives on.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 199)


They loved the deferential greetings of men on the street.  And just because of that they could not hear the voice of God.  Why?  So long as a man measures himself against his fellow men he will be well content.  But the point is not:  “Am I as good as my neighbor?”  The point is:  “Am I as good as God?”  “What do I look like to him?” so long as we judge ourselves by human comparisons there is plenty of room for self-satisfaction, and that kills faith, for faith is born of the sense of need.  But when we compare ourselves with Jesus Christ, we are humbled to the dust, and then faith is born, for there is nothing left to do but trust to the mercy of God.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 199-200)


Our Lord tells the Jews that they were not likely to believe, so long as they cared more for the praise of man than the praise of God.  The true cause of their unbelief was a want of honesty and godly sincerity.  With all their professed zeal for God, they did not really care so much for pleasing Him as for pleasing man.  In this state of mind they were never likely to have faith, or to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 322)


Does it not demand that you investigate him personally to see whether the things written about him and claimed by him are valid?  If you will not do this, then you demonstrate by your actions that the difficulties you have with belief are not rational.  It is not as though God has not provided enough evidence for a thinking person to evaluate Christ’s claims.  Your difficulties are moral.  The problem is sin.  On the other hand, if you will investigate Christ’s worth and character, you will find him to be what countless others have also found him to be–the Son of God and your Savior.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 414)


Let it be carefully noted, that both here and elsewhere the loss of man’s soul is always attributed in Scripture to man’s own want of will to be saved.  It is not any decree of God.  It is not God’s unwillingness to receive.  It is not any limitation of Christ’s redeeming work and atonement.  It is not any want of wide, broad, free, full invitations to repent and believe.  It is simply and entirely man’s own fault,–his want of will.  Forever let us cleave to this doctrine.  Man’s salvation, if saved, is entirely of God.  Man’s ruin, if lost, is entirely of himself.  He “loved darkness rather than light.”  He will have his own way.  (J. C. Ryle, Expository thoughts on John, Vol. 1, 320)


The hostile Jews have failed to see in Jesus the voice and the form of God.  They have failed through unbelief.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary: John, 208-9)


Christ’s educated hearers fell short of believing because they were motivated by self-glory rather than a desire for God’s glory.  They wanted to receive glory from other scholars.  One great authority would line himself up against another, and they would begin to argue about words.  In the rabbinical schools the study of Scripture was a means to gain fame, to show off one’s intellectual prowess.  Biblical scholars dressed in such a way that everyone would recognize them.  They prayed so they would be recognized.  They were given prominence and position.  But in all of this, they were lost!  They knew the Word of God backwards and forwards, but they were unsaved!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 172-3)


Worship Point: Worship the God of the Universe Who desires to transform your perspective through the redeeming, reforming, and revitalizing work of God’s Son and the Holy Spirit.  (Ps 18:28; 19:8; 25:5; 27:1; 43:3; 56:13; 118:27; 139:11-12; Jn 16:13; 1 Cor 2:10-15; 1 Pt 2:9)


What the world needs is not knowledge; it is not teaching; it is not information; it is not medical treatment; it is not psychotherapy; it is not social progress; it is not punishment, even.  It is none of these things.

What men and women need is a new heart, a new nature, a nature that will hate darkness and love the light, instead of loving the darkness and hating the light.  They need an entire renovation, and, blessed be the name of God, it is the very thing that God offers in and through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  The Son of God came and took unto himself human nature.  He united it to himself in order that he night give us that nature. (D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones; God’s Way, Not Ours: Isaiah 1, 67)


So when we come to the Scriptures, there must be a yielding of our lives, a focus not on self but on God.  Then we will be able to hear what the Scriptures have to say to us.  Learning from the Scriptures depends on the motive and morality with which we come to them.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 173-4)


Needless to say, this view of human reason contradicts the biblical point of view as it has been explained in previous lessons.  The fall of man involved the entirety of man; all aspects of his personality were corrupted by sin.  As a result, reason is not the judge of truth; only God can act as such a judge.  Moreover, sin has so affected mankind that even rational abilities are not neutral.  Christians seek to use their reason in dependence on God.  Non-Christians seek to be independent in their thinking; there is no neutral ground on which to deal with unbelief.  Human reason can be as much a hindrance as a help to faith in Christ.  As St. Augustine once said, “Believe that you may understand.”  To rest our faith on independent reason is to rebel against God.  Reason must rest on our faith commitment to Christ and our faith must rest on God alone. (Richard L. Pratt, Jr.; Every Thought Captive A Study manual for the Defense of Christian Truth, 74)


Now the mistake here (and you find it in Steven Hawking as well I think) is to think of God as some kind of link in a chain of causality.  A little bit like a certain kind of physical explanation; you know that somehow hovering around the Singularity or in the Quantum Vacuum.  And whatever else we mean about God, from a Classical Christian standpoint; we absolutely don’t mean that.  And the analogy that I would like to offer your listeners that I myself find particularly helpful is light.

Think about light.  The light in which we see cannot itself be one of the things seen.  For we can see the light only in so far as it is reflected off opaque objects. So it is the same with the Divine Light, I would argue.   The Light which is God we can only see in the creatures which reflect it.

Therefore, when we turn our minds away from the visible objects of Creation to God, it is as if we see nothing.  The world shines with the Divine Light.  But, the Light which causes it so to shine, is itself like a deep darkness.  (Rupert Shortt on Mars Hill Audio: Vol. 138; Disk 2, track 1)


The point of the miracle is that we are like the disabled man spiritually.  We have sinned, and spiritual inability to seek Christ has come from our sin.  We cannot rise to meet him.  We cannot even believe on him.  Nevertheless, it is when we are disabled spiritually–blind, lame, and paralyzed–that Jesus comes to us to save us and to free us from sin’s bondage.  The miracle reveals God to be a God of great grace.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 412)


The Bible cannot be properly understood apart from the Holy Spirit’s illumination or a transformed mind.  The Jews’ zeal for the Scripture was commendable (cf. Rom 10:2), but because they were unwilling to come to Jesus (cf. 1:11; 3:19), the sole source of eternal life (14:6; Acts 4:12), it did not result in salvation.  Clinging to their superficial system of self-righteousness by works, in their stubborn unbelief, they became ignorant of “God’s righteousness and [sought] to establish their own” (Rom 10:3).  But self-righteousness cannot save anyone, since “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment (Isa 64:6) and because “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (Jam 2:10).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 213)


Gospel Application: Those who have the Son have light and life.  Those who continue to reject the Son remain blind and in the dark.  Only Light beyond the dark creates a new world-view or perspective.   The Law of Moses is a mirror reflecting the Light of Jesus.  (Ps 36:9; 119:130; 146:8; Isa 9:2; 42:6-7; 60:1-3; Mt 4:16; Jn 1:4-5; 3:3; 8:12; 9:5; 12:46; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor 3:14-18; Col 1:10-13; 1 Jn 1:5-8)


Fundamentally, our Lord’s message was Himself.  He did not come merely to preach a Gospel; He himself is that Gospel.  He did not come merely to give bread; He said, “I am the bread.”  He did not come merely to shed light; He said, “I am the light.”  He did not come merely to show the door; He said, “I am the door.”  He did not come merely to name a shepherd; He said, “I am the shepherd.”  He did not come merely to point the way; He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  — J. Sidlow Baxter


It often seems that the more I try to disentangle myself from the darkness, the darker it becomes.  I need light, but that light has to conquer my darkness, and that I cannot bring about myself.  I cannot forgive myself.  I cannot make myself feel loved.  By myself I cannot leave the land of my anger.  I cannot bring myself home nor can I create communion on my own.  I can desire it, hope for it, wait for it, yes, pray for it.  But my true freedom I cannot fabricate for myself.  That must be given to me.  I am lost.  I must be found and brought home by the shepherd who goes out to me. (Henri J. M. Nouwen; The Return of the Prodigal Son: a Story of Homecoming, 82)


Jesus was right.  The law can do only two things, and the bringing of salvation is not one of them.  The law can either condemn, or it can point to the Savior.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 436-7)


The Jews also erred in considering the Scriptures rather than God as the source of life.  This is easy to document.  One Jewish writing, the Siphre on Dt 32:2, says, “As rain is life for the world, so also are the words of Torah life for the world.”  First Baruch 4:1-2 says, “This is the book of the commandments of God and the Law that endureth forever.  All they that hold it fast are appointed to life; but such as leave it shall die.”  Hillel’s words to the same effect are proverbial:  “More flesh more worms; more wealth more care; more maidservants more lewdness; more menservants more thieving; more women more witchcraft; more Torah more life. . . Whoso has gained a good name has gained it for himself; whoso has gained for himself words of Torah has gained for himself the life of the world to come” (Pirke Aboth 2:8).  Quite clearly, this was believed literally.  The important thing was the memorization of Scripture; this in itself won salvation.  Against this view Jesus wished to point out that formal study of the Bible was not a guarantee of life to come, as the rabbis believed.  Christ is the life, not the Scriptures considered in themselves.  Only Christ can guarantee salvation.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 431)


Suppose you had a boat that is fastened to a dock above a waterfall by a chain of ten links.  How many do you have to break to set the boat adrift?  The answer is: Just one.  In the same way, men are adrift and condemned by the law no matter which one or how many of the commandments have been broken.  (James Montgomery Boice, John, The coming of the Light, 435)


Spiritual Challenge: If you enjoy the Light seek more Light.  If you don’t enjoy the Light beg God to give you the desire and ability to seek and see the Light.  (Eph 5:8-14; 1 Jn 1:5-8; 2:8-11)


Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself. — Erasmus


The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit.  Among the things of the Spirit to which the natural man is most averse is God’s estimate of sin, which is difficult even for a Christian to accept and appreciate.  This is why believers are to exhort each other daily, “lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13).  Now if sin can deceive a believer, how much more deceitful is it to an unbeliever?  If a man with 20-20 vision cannot discern an object at which he is gazing, how shall one born blind see it?  Because of the deceitful nature of sin, the unregenerate world cannot comprehend.  (Donald Grey Barnhouse, God’s Freedom, 27)


Our beliefs and feelings cannot be changed by choice.  We cannot just choose to have different beliefs and feelings.  But we do have some liberty to take in different ideas and information and to think about things in different ways.  We can choose to take in the Word of God, and when we do that, beliefs and feelings will be steadily pulled in a godly direction.

One of the worst mistakes that can be made in practical ministry is to think that people can choose to believe and feel differently.  Following that, we will mistakenly try to generate faith by going through the will–possibly trying to move the will by playing on emotion.  Rather, the will must be moved by insight into truth and reality.  Such insight will evoke emotion appropriate to a new set of the will.  That is the order of real inward change.  (Dallas Willard; Renovation of the Heart, 248)


Though God in this threefold revelation has provided answers to our questions concerning Him, the answers by no means lie on the surface.  They must be sought by prayer, by long meditation on the written Word, and by earnest and well-disciplined labor.  However brightly the light may shine, it can be seen only by those who are spiritually prepared to receive it.  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (A. W. Tozer; The Knowledge of the Holy, p.14)


There is more in Christianity than can be gathered from books or teachers. A blind man may learn the theory of light.  But open his eyes and he is in a new world.  “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord” (Isa 54:13).  Though one may have had the best instructors, yet if he is not taught of the Lord, he is not prepared to teach others the way of salvation.  The captain who understands navigation, in approaching a strange coast, gives the control of the ship into the hands of the pilot who knows the channel.  An unlettered man who enjoys religion is a much safer spiritual guide than an uncovered theologian.  One cannot teach what he does not comprehend.  “For what a man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him?  Even so the things of God knoweth no man,” but if he is destitute of the Spirit of God he cannot comprehend the things of God.  If he thinks he can it only makes matters worse.  “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned’ (1 Cor. 2:14).  (B.T. Roberts; Fishers Of Men, 35-6)


Thomas couldn’t believe, without sufficient data, because the implications were just too staggering.   (Steve Brown; If Jesus Has Come, 104-5)


Let us recognize before we do warfare that the areas we hide in darkness are the very areas of our future defeat.  Often the battles we face will not cease until we discover and repent from the darkness that is within us.  If we will be effective in spiritual warfare, we must be discerning of our own hearts; we must walk humbly with our God.  Our first course of action must be, “Submit…to God.”  Then, as we “resist the devil…he will flee” (James 4:7).  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 16)


Our Lord Jesus Christ, with all the concern, compassion and love which he showed to mankind, made some very vivid portrayals of man’s condition.  He did not mince words about the gravity of human sin.  He talked of man as salt that has lost its savor (Mt 5:13).  He talked of man as a corrupt tree which is bound to produce corrupt fruit (Mt 7:7).  He talked of man as being evil:  “You, being evil, know how to give good things to your children” (Lk 11:13).  On one occasion he lifted up his eyes toward heaven and talked about an “evil and adulterous generation” (v. 45).  In a great passage dealing with what constitutes true impurity and true purity he made the startling statement that out of the heart proceed murders, adulteries, evil thoughts and things of that kind (Mk 7:21-23).  He spoke about Moses having to give special permissive commandments to men because of the hardness of their hearts (Mt 19:8).  When the rich young ruler approached him, saying, “Good Master,” Jesus said, “there is none good but God” (Mk 10:18)…

Jesus compared men, even the leaders of his country, to wicked servants in a vineyard (Mt 21:33-41).  He exploded in condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees, who were considered to be among the best men, men who were in the upper ranges of virtue and in the upper classes of society (Mt 23:2-39).

The Lord Jesus made a fundamental statement about man’s depravity in Jn 3:6: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”  He saw in man an unwillingness to respond to grace–“You will not come to God” (Jn 5:40), “You have not the love of God” (v. 42), “You receive me not” (v. 43), “You believe not” (v. 47).  Such sayings occur repeatedly in the Gospel of John.  “The world’s works are evil” (Jn 7:7); “None of you keeps the law” (v. 19).  “You shall die in your sins,” he says (Jn 8:21).  “You are from beneath” (v. 23); “Your father is the devil, who is a murderer and a liar” (vv. 38, 44); “You are not of God” (v. 47); “You are not of my sheep” (Jn 10:26); “He that hates me hates my Father” (Jn 15:23-25).  This is the way in which our Lord spoke to the leaders of the Jews.  He brought to the fore their utter inability to please God.

Following another line of approach he showed also the blindness of man, that is, his utter inability to know God and understand him.  Here again we have a whole series of passages showing that no man knows the Father but him to whom the Son has revealed him (Mt 11:27).  He compared men to the blind leading the blind (Mt 15:14).  He mentioned that Jerusalem itself did not know or understand the purpose of God and, as a result, disregarded the things that concern salvation (Lk 19:42).  The Gospel of John records him as saying that he that believed not was condemned already because he had not believed on the Son of God (Jn 3:18).  “This is the condemnation, that…men loved the darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (v. 19).  He said that only the one who has been reached by grace can walk not in darkness but have the light of life (Jn 8:12).  The Lord Jesus emphasized that it is essential for man to be saved by a mighty act of God if he is to be rescued from his condition of misery (Jn 3:3, 5, 7-16).  Even in the Lord’s Prayer the Lord teaches us to say, “Forgive us our debts” (Mt 6:12).  And this is a prayer that we need to repeat again and again.  He said, “The sick are the people who need a physician” (Mt 9;12).  We are those sick people who need a physician to help us and redeem us.  He said that we are people who are burdened and heavy-laden (Mt 11:28)…

The people who were most readily received by the Lord were those who had this sense of need and who therefore did not come to him with a sense of the sufficiency of their performance.  The people he received were those who came broken-hearted and bruised with the sense of their inadequacy.  (Roger R. Nicole, “The Doctrines of Grace in Jesus’ Teaching”)


Jesus said I am the light.  Jesus said we are to be the light of the world.  The trouble with light is that it attracts bugs.


Remember in the darkness what you have learned in the light. (Joseph Bayly as quoted by Philip Yancey; The Bible Jesus Read, 71)


When we are confronted with Christ we see in him the witness of God in our hearts.  The Stoics held that the highest kind of knowledge comes not by thought but by what they called “arresting impressions;” a conviction seizes a man like someone laying an arresting hand on his shoulder.  It may be that Jesus here means that the conviction in our hearts of his supremacy is the witness of God within.  (William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: John, 197)


Remembering death acts like a filter, helping us to hold on to the essential and let go of the trivial.  Climacus pointed out that a “man who has heard himself sentenced to death will not worry about the way theaters are run.”  His point, of course, is that all of us have been sentenced to death; it’s just a matter of time, so shouldn’t we live our lives accordingly?  Why let trivia captivate our hearts?  Forgetting death tempts us to lose perspective.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 151)


Spiritual Challenge Questions:



–  What do you think Jesus means in Matthew 6:22-23? 


B-  In Romans 1:18-25, what does the Apostle Paul say is the reason some suppress the truth?  What does Paul say is plain to unbelievers?


C-  Why couldn’t the Jews look at the evidence and see the truth about Jesus?   What is there about our perspective that blinds us to the truth?  


So What?: Palm Sunday is Lamb selection day.   Jesus has given more than enough evidence to select Him.  Jesus is light and life.  Choose life.   (Prv 4:18-19; Isa 5:20; Jn 8:31-38; Rom 12:1-2)


The Palm Sunday crowd was glad to proclaim Jesus king as long as the evidence about Jesus was compatible with their desires (Palm Sunday).  But, the minute the evidence about Jesus went contrary to what they desired (Good Friday), they abandoned Jesus.  We must become a slave to the truth, not its master.  The truth will set you free (Jn 8:32), not the other way around. — PK


Jesus came on a donkey and the people say, “Hosanna” which is a political thing, “We want a king.” And they waved palm branches which is a way of saying, “We want a king, we want a deliverer.”  But, Jesus came on lamb selection day as a way of saying, “Yes I am the king, but my kingship is going like I just told you on the road down there, by my being a servant.  I’m going to go and give my life and that will usher in my kingdom” (Ray VanderLaan; That the World May Know; Set 4, Faith Lesson 23; “The Lamb of God”)


“Wherever the Biblical world view has been prevailed, there has been freedom.  Where it has been taken away, freedom has been lost.”  (Chuck Colson; Session 6: What Do I Do Now? –  Segment 2: Wide Angle)


Earthly fears are no fears at all.  Answer the big question of eternity, and the little questions of life fall into perspective. —Max Lucado


If we keep hearing the truth but do not respond to it, it is taken away.  That is why I fear for any person who does not know Christ but complacently joins a congregation and hears the Bible taught but does not obey it.  If he listens long enough and does not respond, the day will come when he cannot comprehend the truth.  Believers too, when they hear the Word of God preached, must respond in some way.  That is why when we are moved by something we hear, we must put into action the truth we receive.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: John, 175)


On a logical level, the Christian worldview is the only one that is not self-refuting.  Moreover, because it is based on historical events, it can be proven.  Most religions are, and have always been, based on myths.  Christianity is unique in that it is founded on specific historical truth claims, notably the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The historical evidence is sufficient to compel agreement from any fair investigation of the facts.  So Christianity is not just a creed or a philosophy or good ideas about how to live our lives.  It is truth.  (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 317)


If the Bible is true, then God has provided each of us with the opportunity to make an eternal choice to either accept him or reject him.  And in order to ensure that our choice is truly free, he puts us in an environment that is filled with evidence of his existence, but without his direct presence–a presence so powerful that it could overwhelm our freedom and thus negate our ability to reject him.  In other words, God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet he has also left some ambiguity so as not to compel the unwilling.  (Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, 31)


The kingdom of God always appears upside down to the human perspective.  We think it’s strange to die in order to live, or to give in order to receive, or to serve in order to lead.  Solomon captures the perpetual enigma of our looking-glass values just as Jesus describes them in the Sermon on the Mount.  He insists we should embrace sorrow over laughter, rebukes over praise, the long way instead of the short, and today instead of yesterday.

The truth is that it’s not the kingdom of God that is upside down–it’s the world.  It’s not the Word of God that turns life inside out–it’s the world that has reversed all the equations that God designed for our lives.   (David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 189)


The darkness will always war against the light.  And the light must always war against the darkness.  In the end, there is no neutrality.  You either let the darkness overcome you, or you overcome the darkness.  There is no middle ground.  Either the darkness will destroy the light, or the light will destroy the darkness.  (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries, Day 45)


The Jewish religious teachers and authorities would express their ultimate rejection of both Moses and Jesus when they used their perverted understanding of the law to justify His execution:  “The Jews answered [Pilate], ‘We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God’” (Jn 19:7).  They rejected the fourfold testimony of John the Baptist, Jesus’ works, the Father, and the Scriptures to Christ’s deity.  As a result, in the most heinous act of apostasy in history, they crucified their own Messiah (Acts 2:23).  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: John, 216)


Because he has the witness of God he is not troubled by the opposition of people.  But though this witness is so clear and so valuable to him, he does not anticipate that the Jews will respond to it.  Their ignorance is threefold.  (1) They have never heard God’s voice.  Moses heard that voice (Ex 33:11), but they are not true followers of Moses, otherwise they would have heard God’s voice in Jesus (3:34; 17:8).  (2) They have never seen God’s form.  Israel saw that form (Gn 32:30-31), but they are no true Israelites.  Were they, they would have seen God in Jesus (14:9).  (3) They do not have God’s word abiding in them.  (Leon Morris, The New Int’l Commentary on the NT: John, 291)


Demon Uncle Screwtape speaking to under-ranking demon Wormwood on getting his patient to sin:

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness.  But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.  It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing.  Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.  Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.  (C. S. Lewis; The Screwtape Letters, 56)

  Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  — John 9:5






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