“There is one who accuses you”: Power in Pauses

“Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 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 5:45–47, ESV)

There can be huge drama in dramatic pauses.  Winston Churchill—a master of dramatic pauses—understood this point very well.  Jesus uses a dramatic pause in John 5.45 that is quite remarkable.  He is arguing with “the Jews” [his Jewish opponents] who were steeped in Judaic religion, most of whom would have memorized! the Torah, at a minimum.  They were devotees of Moses and felt that they would find eternal life in the Torah which he had written.  In other words, Moses was their guy.  They had read him, studied him, memorized him, and felt that they understood him completely.

Jesus uses a forward-pointing reference to cause a dramatic pause.  He says, “Listen, you who think you are the most religious people in all of Palestine and who think that you are the closest to God.  Don’t think that I am going to accuse you to God the Father.  I don’t need to.  There IS someone who will accuse you before the Father” [pause].

Ponder for a moment, what the Jewish opponents of Jesus might be thinking at this moment.  “Who is going to accuse us?  We are the most observant Jews in the world!  We follow the law to the nth degree.  Indeed, who dare accuse us?”

Do you think, dear reader, that they are at all expecting the next word that comes out of Jesus’ mouth?  “Moses! On whom you have set your hope.”

“What?!?  Surely this poor carpenter has been into the schnapps.  Moses is our guy.  We know everything he wrote.  We follow all of the laws in the Torah.  Yes, our hope is certainly in Moses, yet here is this guy telling us that Moses will accuse us before the Father!”

What a shock that single word “Moses” must have been to Jesus’ listeners.

Why would Moses accuse Christ’s opponents?  Because everyone listening to Christ at that moment would have said that they “believed” what Moses had written.  “If that is true,” says Christ, “then you would believe my words, because Moses wrote of me.”  In other words, this is a huge rebuke to the Jewish opponents of Christ.  If they really believed Moses, then they would believe Christ.  Since they did not believe Christ, it was proof that they did not genuinely believe Moses.  Talk about a wake up slap in the face.  Christ’s words could hardly be stronger.

Bob Utley: “Here is the tragedy of the Jewish leaders: they had the Scriptures, read them, studied them, memorized them, and yet missed the person to whom they point! Without the Spirit, even the Scriptures are ineffective!”

The point for us, dear reader, is that at this very moment, Christ is claiming that Moses [and by extension all of the Scriptures] wrote about and testified to Christ.  It’s your choice here, either side with Christ or side with his opponents.  Either Moses really was writing about Christ, or Christ is deluded beyond imagination.  You have to admit, however, Christ boxes us into a corner here.  He forces us to make a choice.  We cannot remain neutral.

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