Work days start at 4:00 am in my house. But some of my happiest early weekday mornings commence with fumbling through the dark, blindly feeling for a light switch, and discovering a love note my wife has left on the counter. These little one-liners are heart felt reminders of how important and loved I am in her eyes. One of my favorites is a particular green index card which reads, “I love you not for what you do but because of who you are.”
Much like my wife posting love note paper trails around our home, God has spread His love letters all across the world in hopes that someone will pick one up to hear about and receive His unique love. From grocery stores to book stores, and from hotel rooms to hospitals, Bibles are scattered all over in the world where we live. And as a friend of mine once said, “No one will ever accuse you of reading your Bible too much.” But something in me always wondered if that statement was really true??? Then one day I came across a startling statement Jesus made to a group of Bible loving Jews. He said, You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want (John 5:39-40 MSG).
Jesus had many heated conversations with Jewish Bible students as recorded throughout Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. John records one such encounter in John 5:16-47. The theme of this passage (and of the whole book of John) is that Jesus is God in human form. Jesus goes through great pains in this teaching to prove to the Jews that He is their Messiah and Savior whom they’d been waiting for all their life. In essence He was saying, “I love you! I’ve finally come for you, and I want to start a new kind of relationship with you. I love you so much I’m going to die for you so that I can come live in you.”
Jesus knew the Jews would have a hard time receiving His words, and He knew the Jewish mandate from Deuteronomy 17 and 19 would require at least two or three witnesses to corroborate His outlandish claims. So Jesus goes far beyond the Jewish expectation and provides five unique testimonies to the truth that eternal life is found in Christ alone.
Jesus’ first witness to the stand is Himself – His own first-person personal testimony to His deity. From verse 17 to verse 30 He is saying, “I am God. You must believe this to have eternal life.” But in verse 31, there’s a shift from His own testimony to the testimony of someone else: If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. Jesus knew the Jews wouldn’t bend just because somebody claimed to be the Messiah, so listen as John outlines Christ’s words as He calls four other witnesses to stand before the jury:
1. (John 5:33-35) “John the Baptist says I’m God”
2. (John 5:36) “My miracles prove I’m God”
3. (John 5:37-38) “My Father says I’m God”
4. (John 5:39-47) “Every word in your Bible points to me as God”
The last and greatest witness is the witness of the Word of God. Yet even with five testimonials, He came unto his own, and his own received him not (John 1:11 KJV). Sadly, the Jews ended up crucifying their Savior and returned home to continue with their Bible studies.
Friends, there’s nothing wrong with reading our Bibles. There’s nothing wrong with memorizing Bible verses or having Bible studies. Those are good things when done for good reasons. But we have to know the singular purpose for God’s written Word is to introduce us to and teach us to know the Living Word, Jesus Christ Himself.
How much sense would it make if I came home to my wife each day and spent the rest of the night memorizing her love note all the while she was standing right in front of me waiting for a hug? Jesus is alive folks, and if you’re a Christian, He’s alive in you! Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy
(1 Peter 1:8 NIV).
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