“If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid. There is Another who testifies about Me, and I know that the testimony He gives about Me is valid. John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a time you were willing to enjoy his light. The Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me. You have not heard His voice at any time, and you haven’t seen His form. You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life. but I know you — that you have no love for God within you.”
John 5:31-32, 35, 37-40, 42
Part II–What a sad reality! Jesus, while talking to the Pharisees (Hebrew religious leaders of Jesus’ day), reveals that, He, the One spoken of in their own Scriptures, was not accepted by them. Last time, we talked of the testimonies given to the world concerning Jesus (see July 21), yet they didn’t believe–today we look at one of these specifically, the Scriptures. From the very beginning (Gen 3:15), the scrpture spoke of a coming Messiah Who would mortally wound the devil, our enemy, and reconcile us to God the Father, in a love relationship with Him that He originally intended (II Cor 5:18-19) for us to have with Him. But somewhere along the way, things got distorted–out of balance. While the Scriptures were at the center of Hebrew worship, the God of the Scriptures was not necessarily present. Jesus hits it in this passage when He says, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me . . .” (vs 39)
Now these preists and scribes and pharisees were really serious students of God’s word and they truely respected God. Such respect had they for the Scriptures, that the scribes, who copied the scriptures by hand, would pause each time they encountered the word “God” while they were writing, wash themselves, change their clothes, throw away their old pen-replacing it it a new one, then write the word “God”, which in their language was modified to leave out all the vowels so that no one really knew how to pronounce the word, thus making it more sacred. Now God is the Main Character of the Scriptures! So, that lots of washings, clothes, pens and rituals! As they copied the Scriptures, they were not allowed to mess up. If they did, that manuscript had to be trashed and they had to start again. Such were the tedious tendencies of all their religous habits! But where was God in all this? He, Himself was unworshipped and not really known!
All of the poring over and studying, memorizing and reciting, writing and ritual would NEVER bring them into a relationship with God. So when Jesus , their Messiah actually did show up, they missed Him!
Jesus said, “I know you — that you have no love for God within you.” (vs 42)
Sadly, after all the rituals and writing, all that was left was religion with no relationship that had no love for God.
Equelly sad, this scenario is possible for us today as well. While our ritual falls far short of theirs, we are often guilty of having a lot of “head knowlege” of God, with little or no “heart knowledge” of Him! We sometimes know the Bible without truely knowing its Author! We also are sometimes all about the ritual, but light on the relationship. Even we, as Christ followers, can fall into a pattern of worshipping an experience or an emotion that we have during the experience, but missing out on worshipping God Himself!
You see, a relationship with God is not only a Sunday & Wednesday thing. The Hebrews actually did quite well at incorporating God or at least the acknowledgement of Him into their everyday lives! God wants a relationship based on love to be at the center of our encounter with Him. That’s why He sent Jesus, the very expression of His love for us to restore us to that relationship to Himself.
So, before we get too critical of the pharisees of the Bible, let make sure there’s not a pharisee in the mirror! Let’s put the God of scriptures back into our experience of worship with Him. Let’s worship Him, not His word, not the benifits that knowing Him brings, not even the fulfillment and positive emotions that accompany knowing Him-BUT HIM, HIMSELF! Lets worship Him.
Think about it!