“And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.” (John 5:37–38, ESV)
Imagine that you have seven kids and they are perfect kids. You and your spouse work hard at being parents and it shows. Your kids get good grades. They do not get into trouble. They are well known at school. All of their teachers love them. All of their teachers love you. You have read all the parenting books and mastered them. You never raise your voice to your kids. You speak and they obey.
The word gets around and pretty soon people are asking you and your spouse to come and explain to them how to be great parents. Everyone listens to your wisdom and asks you questions about how they can have perfect children. You are glad to tell them how. You are parental experts and if truth be told, even you believe it yourself.
One day I request a meeting with you and your spouse and my message is this: You have not a clue how to be a parent. You are totally blowing it.
I suspect that this would be a message that would be difficult for you to believe.
This is exactly the sort of milieu in which Jesus speaks to his Jewish opponents in John 5.37-44. To be frank and honest, he gives them a real beat down. Everyone—including they themselves—believes that they have eternal life mastered. Jesus says: “No. You do not. You do not even have God’s word abiding in you!” Wow. Those must have been difficult words to swallow for people whom everyone acknowledged were the most religiously devoted of anyone in their society.
- You have never heard his voice
- You have never seen his form
- You do not even have his word abiding in you, because if you did, you would believe the one whom God has sent
- You diligently search the Scriptures…and completely miss the message: They are about me!
- You refuse to come to me that you may have [eternal] life
- You do not even have the love of God within you
- You do not seek the glory [that would be me!] that comes from the only God.
Are you getting a sense, dear reader, of the power of Christ’s words? They thought they were doing everything that Christ says they were not doing. Talk about a disconnect between perception and reality. Was ever a gap farther than with Christ’s opponents?
Here’s the thing. Jesus says, that if you—yes, you dear reader—come to the Scriptures for eternal life [as you certainly should], but do not discover Christ there, then you are 100% wrong. You are as wrong as his opponents were.
Do you seek eternal life? You can certainly find it, in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This was Christ’s claim.