“You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf.” (v. 39)

John 5:30-47 Friday 7 July 2017

Psalm: Psalm 32



Jesus responds to the accusation that in referring to God as hisFather he is making unsubstantiated claims about himself. In Jewishlaw two or three witnesses were necessary to prove a case in court.Here Jesus summons his three. First there is the witness of Johnthe Baptist who earlier in the Gospel has announced Jesus' comingand the Holy Spirit resting upon him (John1). Secondly there is the direct activity of God through Jesus,seen in the healings and other remarkable things he does, describedtellingly in John as 'signs' (as in John2:11; 4:54). Thirdly there are the Jewish scriptures,known in the Christian tradition as the Old Testament, andparticularly those that deal with Moses.

None of these witnesses is conclusive, for in each case faith isrequired, the readiness to recognise what is implied and torespond. Many responded enthusiastically to John the Baptist butwere unwilling to accept his witness. Many were enthusiastic aboutJesus' powerful deeds, but only as 'wonders' (see John4:45, 48). The Torah, the five books dealing withMoses, were read in synagogues regularly, but they were not seen aspointing to Jesus. There is an ironic reference in verse 43 to themany messianic pretenders in New Testament times who attractedenthusiastic followers but delivered nothing or were put down bythe Romans.

The Old Testament is shared by Christians and Jews but in manyways interpreted very differently. In the Christian tradition it isseen as pointing forward to Jesus, as is emphasised here.

To Ponder

  • In many church services readings from the Old Testament arerare. Do you welcome that or deplore it? Why?
  • In what ways might we think of the Old Testament as pointingforward to Jesus today? 
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