“But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:40
I lose things all the time. And when I say “all the time”, I mean all.the.time. My poor husband hears the words, “I can’t find my _____”, daily. More often than not, he will end up finding whatever it is I misplaced that day. Why? Because when we are looking so intently to find something, we often end up missing it. I once was almost late to work because I couldn’t find my keys that were in my hand the entire time. Ugh.
When we read John 5, we see Jesus is speaking to this exact type of searching and not finding. Jesus healed a man of an infirmity, who then had to carry his mat because he could walk now. Praise the Lord, right?! Oh but wait…it was the Sabbath and no one is allowed to carry their mat on the “day of rest”. So instead of being praised, Jesus was hunted by the Jews because they wanted Him killed. Let that sink in. They sought to kill Jesus because He healed someone on the Sabbath. Then, once confronted by the Jews, Jesus took it one step further and referred to God being His Father. At this point, gloves were off and the Jews wanted Jesus dead.
Even with His life on the line, Jesus didn’t shy away from hurting their feelings or their pride. He is speaking of eternal life, and there is nothing touchy-feely about eternal damnation in hell. Within this preaching moment, Jesus speaks simple directions: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life.” (verse 24) Jesus blew up religion and boiled it down to one thing: faith. That was the missing link for the religious Jews. They had everything tidy and neat on the outside by following their religious traditions, but lacked the one thing they needed for eternal life.
In verses 38-40, Jesus really hits deep with the Jews. He said, “But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.” (verse 38) This was more than likely a major insult to these people. He was basically telling them that their knowledge of the bible was no knowledge at all. If we sincerely understood how much the Jews dedicated their lives to studying scripture, we might begin to realize the depth of this statement. But, at this point in time, 300 Old Testament prophecies had come true through the first coming of Jesus. For being highly-esteemed biblical scholars at the time, they really missed the mark. They searched and searched through scripture but couldn’t see that their Messiah was right in front of them offering a life of abundance. On top of that, they were not willing to admit their sinful actions and accept His gift (verse 40).
It’s truly sad to read this passage of scripture because I think of our world today and how much we are in need of the Messiah. All these man-made rules and religions offer false security in the afterlife and keep people in a life of bondage rather than abundance. If only people were willing to admit their need for Jesus, they would be free indeed. But, we are also susceptible to missing the mark as followers of Christ. Although we may have a relationship with the Lord, we often miss Him speaking to us because we are caught up in our own “religious traditions”. The simple call God gives us in Psalm 46:10 rings true for me: “Be still and know that I am God…”.
I am the first to admit that I will close my bible after a long passage and ask myself, What did I just read?. Reading my bible can definitely become a mundane task if I’m not careful. I do believe there is beauty in reading every day out of obedience to God, but let us not forget that every scripture is God-breathed and we should not take that lightly (2 Timothy 3:16). Maybe we just need to switch up when or where we read our bible. Something as simple as that can give us a fresh perspective. This week, let’s be intentional with our devotion time and allow God to move through our hearts as we humble ourselves before Him and are still in His presence.