Monday morning! Time for a new week and a fresh outlook. So, what are we looking at today? John 5:33-47. You’ve got a bit smaller of a passage to read, so take time to chew on it well.
Jesus is continuing His discourse (fancy word for “speech that teaches”) that began in John 5:17. He talks about the importance of John and the value of the spoken testimonies given about Him, but that none of the religious leaders seem willing to accept those testimonies.
A section that bears particular attention is John 5:39-40. The second-person plural which opens this passage could also be translated as an imperative. That is, Jesus could be commanding the leadership to search the Scriptures. He points out that the Pharisees, the Scribes, et. al., believe that the Scriptures (the Old Testament) hold the key to eternal life.
So the goal for them should be to read those Scriptures and see how they point to Jesus!
He is either observing that they have been searching the Scriptures or that they need to. Either one fits the grammar. Both point out that the questions about Jesus would be more readily addressed if people would have read what they claimed to believe.
Funny thought, huh?
That’s not something any of us ever do, is it? Claim to know where the answers are but never look there?
Jesus is the answer—we’ve sung it for years—but do we actually go to Him?
And to wrap up, let us consider this from John Chrysostom (344-407):
He tells them not to simply “read the Scriptures” but “search the Scriptures.” … These sayings were not on the surface or out in the open but were hidden very deep like some treasure. Anyone who searches for hidden things, unless they are careful and diligent, will never find the object of their search. This is why he says …, “For in them you think you have eternal life,” meaning that they did not reap much fruit from the Scriptures, thinking, as they did, that they should be saved by the mere reading of them, without faith.… And so, it was with good reason that he said “you think,” because they did not actually listen to what the Scripture had to say but merely prided themselves on the bare reading. HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 41.1.
Joel C. Elowsky, ed., John 1–10, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 205.