"You search the Scriptures, because you think in them you have eternal life. These are they who bear witness of Me. Yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. I do not receive honor from men. But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father's name, but you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you -- Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" John 5:39-47
Do you believe the words of Jesus -- that He is the only-begotten Son of God, come into this world a true man that He might fulfill God's law for us and then suffer our condemnation and punishment by His death on the cross?
As Jesus' words make clear, not all who claim to be God's children and read and study the Scriptures understand the message of God's Word. Not all see their utter sinfulness and failure to measure up to the demands of God's holy law, and not all look to Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross in faith for mercy, forgiveness, and life everlasting.
Jesus' hearers in John 5 read and studied the Scriptures -- particularly the Torah, the writings of Moses -- and thought they could please God and be acceptable in His sight by their keeping of God's commandments. They failed to see that the commandments revealed their sinfulness and that the Scriptures pointed to the coming Messiah and Savior who would redeem them from their sins and iniquities by His innocent sufferings and death on the cross. Though the Old Testament Scriptures pointed them to Jesus the Messiah and to His atoning sacrifice as the only way to be acceptable in God's eyes, they failed to see that Jesus was their Messiah and Savior -- their only hope for salvation and partaking of the glories of God's everlasting kingdom.
Instead of hearing God's Word, they accepted the words and interpretations of men. And instead of seeking glory from God, they sought honor and glory from man and rejected the truth of God's Word.
As Jesus said, He did not need to accuse them before God the Father; the very writings of Moses, in which they trusted, condemned them for their failure to keep God's commandments and their refusal to look to Christ Jesus and His perfect sacrifice for pardon and forgiveness.
If Jesus' hearers believed the writings of Moses, they would also believe Jesus' words, repent of their sinful ways, and look to Jesus and His cross for mercy. Why? Because Moses wrote of Jesus and His coming.
Jesus is the Offspring of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15); Abraham's Offspring through whom the nations of the world would be blessed (Gen. 12:3; 22:18); the substitute Lamb offered up in the place of God's people foreshadowed by the ram offered up in the place of Isaac (Gen. 22:13-14); the perfect Lamb of God foreshadowed by the Passover Lamb and Israel's sacrifices (Exo. 12:1ff.; John 1:29); the Prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15-19).
And, of course, if we also include the Writings and Prophets of the Old Testament, we would know the place of Messiah's birth, that Jesus is Yahweh Himself in human flesh and blood, that He would suffer and die and redeem us from all our sins, that He would rise again and establish an everlasting kingdom, that He would ascend into heaven, that He would come again in glory and be our judge, that the way to be saved is to turn from our sins and look in faith to Messiah Jesus and His cross and place our hope and confidence in Him.
Do you believe Jesus' words? Do you believe Him when He reveals our failure to keep God's commandments? When he reveals the fact that we are sinners and cannot stand in God's judgment on the basis of our own life and works? Do you believe His words, as well as the testimony of Moses and all the prophets, that Jesus is God the Son and the Messiah and Savior? That only through faith in Him and His atoning sacrifice on the cross can we sinners be pardoned by God and acceptable in His sight?
If you do not come to Jesus and believe His words, if you do not trust in Jesus as your Savior, the words of Moses and all the prophets condemn you.
In John 3:35-36 we read: "The Father loves the Son, and has placed all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life. He who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."
O gracious and merciful Father, we Thank You for the gift of the Son and for forgiveness and life through faith in His name. Grant that we hear and believe the witness of Your Word and the witness of the Son that we might repent of our sins and trust in Messiah Jesus, and so receive the everlasting joys of heaven. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House. Devotion is by Randy Moll. He may be contacted by email at [email protected]. More of Moll's devotional writings are freely available at https://mercifulsaviorlutheran.net. Opinions expressed are those of the author.]