John #23. John 5.31-47
Need hope? Read til the end please.
In the West, we hear of miracles that happen in the East - in third world countries especially. Right now I am praying for God to do the miraculous in my friend, Nirmala, fighting cancer in India! [please pray for her now] We hear of Muslims in the Middle East encountering Jesus Christ in their dreams, as he draws them to himself! Crazy exciting stuff.
Jesus brilliantly answers the demand of Jewish leaders for proof that ‘he is indeed who he claims to be’ as we close out John chapter five. Jesus ably cites his credentials: He has been commended by the testimony of the Father, of John the Baptist, his miraculous works and the Scripture itself - exact prophecies that had foretold his coming. The passage from John chapter five: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+5%3A31-47&version=ESV
On Thursday last, I preached on “Are all religions pretty much the same?” microphone in hand, from the back of my favorite white Ford truck, speaking to folks in cars and beach chairs--women, men, children. Religions - the same? Goodness, no! Besides, the truth is, Christianity is not a religion. Religion is humans trying to work their way to God through good works. Christianity is God coming to men and women through Jesus Christ.1
Truth: Jesus Christ changes everything. In conversation, saying the name of Jesus separates the men from the boys. People can stomach belief in God (because it doesn’t have to be spelled out or broken down any further--could be Allah, Buddha, whatever … take your pick), but mention your relationship with Jesus or your love for Jesus and you have a whole new ballgame.
Personally, I love that ballgame. I love the art of bringing his name up to a stranger--could be on an airplane, in a coffee shop or at the gym. I love the discussion - asking questions, hearing what others believe. [most times, if I ask someone what they believe and then listen, in turn, he asks my belief and listens back. I usually open up a dialog by asking, 'so are you a man of faith?'] It is not my aim to argue or talk a person down, but merely to discuss; the fact is, the claims of Jesus Christ stand on their own merit.
I fondly remember a conversation I had with a young man at the ‘Monte V’2 in Flagstaff . . . when he thought he was meeting me halfway by saying ‘Well I do believe Jesus was a good teacher - a really moral guy … but honestly, that’s it.’ Wait, what?!
Jesus would be neither good nor moral if he was a liar, so it is a poor proffer really.
Enter C.S. Lewis who brilliantly stated: “I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.”
That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
We are faced, then, with a frightening alternative. This man we are talking about either was (and is) just what He said or else a lunatic, or something worse. I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”3
No, no, Jesus was more than a good moral teacher - he was the Son of God, equal in all ways with the Father. That is the reason we do well to learn all we can about Jesus Christ from the Gospels … in our case, the gospel of John just now, where he said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me."4
NOTE: I am aware that daily people are clamoring for hope, for inspiration, for a lifeline in this difficult time - so why write about what the Jewish leaders were throwing at Jesus? Because we need to be in the Word - and right now we are in the gospel of John; we must have the understanding that Jesus is who he said he was - as stated even in our passage today, and HE IS OUR HOPE. The more we learn of him and the truth of him, the greater our confidence that He will carry us through Covid, civic unrest, financial hardships, cancer, divorce, overcoming abuse, and everything else that assails us as human beings.
Having this strong trust in Jesus will strengthen us and empower us.
Rest in Jesus,
1 - More than a Carpenter, Josh McDowell
2 - Hotel Monte Vista - how I love it!
3 - Mere Christianity, CS Lewis, pp.52-53
4 - John 14.6