Have you ever had that person in your circle that just can’t be happy that something good just happened to you? They just have to say something negative to put a damper on the celebration and all in the name of being a realist. It’s as if they just can’t be happy that your happy. My wife and I went to a marriage seminar with some couples from our church in our first year of marriage. And I guess we were too happy of a couple for this one lady, who herself had been married for quite a while and was having issues in her marriage. She told Deedre and I, “Oh you’re just like this, because your still in your first year of marriage. Just wait until after the first year and it’s all down hill from there.” She just couldn’t be happy that we were happy, but rather choose to speak death into our happy marriage. Well moments later, we rebuked that spirit she was trying to project on us with her words and continued on being happy. Well this was the same kind of negative spirit that a man at the Pool of Bethesda by the Temple in Jerusalem, who had been healed by Jesus, after having been terribly sick and unable to walk for 38 long years, encountered one Sabbath day.
Instead of celebrating the fact that this man was healed and walking, the Jewish religious leaders, by the Temple, decided to put a damper on his celebration by accusing him of breaking the Sabbath, because he was carrying his bed. This accusation was, of course, a complete perversion of the Sabbath commandment as Yahweh intended it, however when they later confirmed that it was Jesus who not only healed him on the Sabbath, but told him to carry his bed, they got so angry that they wanted to kill Jesus! How astonishingly ironic and absurd that they were willing to break the commandment about murder, because they thought Jesus, who gave the commandments by the way, was breaking His Sabbath! For this reason they began to persecute and confront Jesus. However, Jesus’ response to them made their murderous anger even hotter, because He called God His Father, thus making Himself equal with God. And by this point, if we were Jesus’ Public Relations Manager or Attorney, we would respectfully pull Him aside and whisper to Him that He may want to tone down the talk about being “the divine Son of God” and being “equal with God.” “Your tour is sold out and Your gaining a huge social media following. This could be bad for your image Jesus”, we’d say. However, in John chapter 5, Jesus seems to be intentionally turning the heat up by further expounding on the fact that He is not only equal with God, but is the divine Son of God, sent by the Father to save them and give them eternal life. Be utterly astounded by the incomprehensible love of God, as Jesus is standing there before those that want to murder Him and says that He’s telling them these things so they may be saved! Yet in spite of all this they would not believe!
This is the main theme of the entire Gospel of John, to believe on Jesus Christ as the Son of God, sent to save us and give us eternal life. Yet, what do you do when you’re a professed believer, but you don’t really believe? What do you mean by that CJ? Well, the idea of belief or faith in the Bible goes far beyond merely intellectually accenting to the reality that something, someone or, more specifically, God exists or is true. The Bible says that the demons believe and tremble, so it’s got to be more than believing amazing Bible facts. In the Bible, to believe or have faith is to have a heart trust in the character of God and specifically what He’s done for you through Jesus Christ. The Jewish religious leaders were focused on the commandments, keeping the Sabbath, correctly understanding the doctrines of Scripture, practicing a healthy diet and awaiting the soon advent of the Messiah, sound familiar? Yet they did not believe or trust in Him when He showed up, stood before them and offered them eternal life! And many of us are the same way. So why don’t you believe or trust in the Jesus you claim to follow and whose advent you claim to be awaiting? Let’s find out as we watch Jesus in John chapter 5, who, knowing that Jewish law requires at least 2 witnesses, masterfully calls upon 4 witnesses to the truth of His claim. Apart from Himself, He calls upon the witness of John the Baptist, the divine nature of His own miraculous works, the testimony of His Father, which seems to refer to His public declaration of Christ’s Sonship at His baptism, and the witness that will be our focus today, the testimony of the Scriptures. Hear the word of our Lord beginning in verse 38…
Please understand who Jesus is talking to here. These are those who consider themselves to be the remnant and in the right denomination in order to be ready for the arrival of the Messiah. These are the religious elite, who believe they have correctly studied the doctrines, have been taught by the best professors of theology and claim to believe in Yahweh and Jesus just told them they do not have God’s word abiding in them! Are you hearing Jesus? He is clearly saying that you can study the Bible all you want; it’s doctrines and it’s prophecies, as if by somehow merely doing this you’ll have eternal life or receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says you can study the Bible and not have His word abiding in you! Why, because if you don’t study these things through the primary lens of the Gospel, as a revelation of Jesus, you will not believe or trust in Him! The Spirit is saying, you won’t believe, because…
YOU READ & STUDY SCRIPTURE WITHOUT A FOCUS ON JESUS.
You see, eternal life is received by coming to Jesus in faith; the Jesus whom the Scriptures testify to! Can you hear and feel God’s unfathomable love as Jesus is appealing to the hearts of the Jews who were plotting to kill Him, to come to Him that they may have life?
I’ll never forget several years ago when Deedre and I visited the metro Atlanta area to see a friend and his family who I used to work with at a bank in Florida. He always loved to talk about the Bible with me, so I decided to show him a recently released DVD on the Final events of Bible Prophecy and then give him my own commentary, especially as it pertained to the Book of Revelation. And when I got to the main point of what I thought, at the time, was “the truth” he needed to know in the last days, I enthusiastically told him that the Roman Papal system was the Beast and that one day we’d all be forced, by a national law, to keep Sunday as the Sabbath, contrary to the Commandments. He just looked at me with this glazed over look in his eyes, with his face looking partially interested, completely overwhelmed and possible wondering if I was some fanatical conspiracy theorist. We eventually moved on to other light conversation and the last time we connected he was disillusioned with church and was starting to slip away. Now I pray that you’ll learn from my spiritually immature, misguided approach, as if the title of the Book of Revelation was “The Revelation of the Beast.” What I hope you’ll come to understand, as I eventually did, is that the main theme and title of the book is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”, which was to give hope to the church as she went through the activity of Satan and the Beast, so she’d have the confidence that Jesus wins! Because the focus of not only the Book of Revelation, but the entire Bible, is Jesus Christ!
You see, we sometimes, very narrowly, define a particular doctrine or a set of them as “the truth.” Yet in Scripture and particularly in the Gospel of John, three things are described as truth; Jesus, the word and the Holy Spirt, whom Jesus also called the Spirit of truth who guides us into all truth. However, don’t miss this critical point! Jesus, in John 14:6, called Himself “The Truth.” So here’s how this works in everyday life. The Holy Spirit draws you to the word in order to guide you to truths, with a lowercase “t”, that are intrinsically designed to lead you to Jesus who IS the Truth, with a capital “T.” And the truth Jesus came to reveal was God’s character of faithful, redeeming love! If this does not come out as your primary emphasis in anything you have to share from the Bible, you have not yet shared the truth and you need to go deeper.
You do not receive grace, the Holy Spirit or His power through correctly studying Bible doctrines. You receive grace by coming to the cross of Christ by faith and then in the overwhelming reality that you have been justified freely by His grace, you follow what Jesus taught and simply, daily, just ask for the Holy Spirit and His power in prayer. Now the Holy Spirit has inspired Scripture, speaks through it and guides you into doctrinal truth, but with the sole purpose of bringing you to Jesus in faith that you may have eternal life, be saved and grow in light of the grace you’ve received. The Bible is not our salvation. Rather it makes us wise unto salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. Are you catching this subtle, yet critical difference? My friend, Jesus is your salvation! And the Bible is seeking to draw you ever deeper into this assurance.
So are you struggling with making Jesus your primary focus as you read and study the Bible? Are you foggy or unclear about how Bible doctrines fit within the framework and story of the Gospel? This was still a problem for many Jews after the cross, for Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:14, “But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 3:14 NKJV. So I give you two resources to help you on this journey. First, go to livingforhim.tv/lifeinchrist and learn how to read, meditate and journal through the unfolding story of Scripture that daily leads you to Jesus. Second, I highly recommend truthlink.org if you want to learn or relearn doctrines within the narrative framework of the Gospel. I can guarantee from my own personal experience, if you do these two things, your life will never be the same.
Jesus now uncovers another obstacle to the Jews, and even us, believing in Him in verse 41…