Why You Will Not Believe
Text: John 5:39-47
Last week I rather hurriedly went through v30-38, where we find that the Father has given three key testimonies to the Son; John the Baptist, miracles, and the scriptures.
In closing this chapter, there’s a huge question we need to be asking ourselves. If Jesus Christ is God, which he has emphatically claimed in the middle part of this chapter, and there are three irrefutable testimonies to that claim, why did the most religious people not believe it? That is the question we need to be asking ourselves, and that’s what the rest of this chapter is about.
The Lord Jesus gives us insight into the unbelief of sinners. He gives an indictment of them in v37-38. Since they had not seen God or heard from Him personally, that made them totally dependant upon the testimony of others. They needed testimony, and God had provided it through John the Baptist, miracles, and the scriptures, but they were rejecting all three.
And so Jesus says, v38. If you received the OT scriptures at least, you would receive Christ.
I. YOU WILL NOT SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES PROPERLY v39
There is much debate about whether this is in the imperative or indicative. It could be translated either way. So is Jesus pointing out that fact that they search the scriptures, or telling them to search the scriptures? If I had to choose I would probably go contextually with the indicative.
Jesus is pointing out that they search the scriptures, and they thought that by doing this they possessed eternal life. Here we see that the scriptures are not an end of themselves. There are many who think the study of scripture is the end, but it’s not. The study of scripture is the means whereby we attain the end. They are the means to lead us to Christ, “they are they which testify of me”.
‘testify’ – this is an important word in this gospel. Matt x1, Mk x0, Lk x2, Jn x32 verses. He is writing to get you to believe! And to believe you need testimonies. And Jesus says the scriptures testify of Him. But not only do they reveal Him, they reveal the testimony of those who saw Him. John 12:37-41 – the glory Isaiah witnessed was the glory of the Son of God, the preincarnate Christ, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory”. When a prophet saw God they saw the Son of God.
We must realize that unless we grasp their true content and purpose, the scriptures cannot give life, they point to the One who gives life. And the Jews are not alone in this issue. They thought they had life in the scriptures. They thought that by being the nation to whom God entrusted the oracles of God, and that by their study of the scriptures, that they had life.
What they needed to do was search the scriptures to see and believe in the One that’s central to them.
II. YOU WILL NOT COME TO CHRIST IMMEDIATELY v40
i.e. you don’t want to come to me’. Christ is in all the scriptures of the OT, and they refuse to come to Him. Even though they understood John, saw the miracles, and read the scriptures, they would not come to Christ. And the problem was not lack of evidence, but lack of will. They did not want to come.
They had no logical reason to deny what they heard, saw, and read, but they did not want to believe.
III. YOU WILL NOT PRIORITIZE GOD’S HONOUR APPROPRIATELY v41-44
1. The Lack that Causes This – v41-42
It is clear from the preceding language that Jesus put the will of His Father as priority. He did this because He had the love of God in His heart. So Jesus tells them that He doesn’t need them to receive Him. He doesn’t need honour from men. Why is this important? Because, as I said, the only concern He has is the will of the Father. That is His priority.
But those He speaks to are not like that. He knows why they will not receive Him because they do not have the love of God in their hearts. That is what they are lacking and that is why they do not prioritize God’s honour.
So what does that lead them to do?
2. The Nature that Demands This – v43-44
v43 – Why would man receive a man who comes in his own name, but not receive Christ? All Christ did was for the Father. He did everything and said everything the Father sent Him to do and say. He was the true servant. I want all the young people to really listen now. Jesus is going to reveal what happens when men do not have the love of God in their hearts.
v44 – is a rhetorical question. Jesus isn’t looking for an answer. He is telling them, you can’t believe because they sought the honour of men. That’s what happens when people do not have nor want the love of God ruling in their hearts, they seek the honour of men.
By nature, men are enslaved to their desires v44. They desire the praise, respect, adoration, approval, and support of men. And you will defend this desire so much, that you will turn the truth into a lie to defend your desire! Understand that.
In fact, man will turn any truth into a lie in order to defend any of his desires.
He will turn the truth into a lie to support abortion. He will say abortion is not murder to defend personal rights. The irony. Defend personal rights by robbing another o their personhood. He will turn the truth into a lie to support divorce. He will argue that happiness is more important than commitment. Again, the irony. For he will eventually expect commitment as a prerequisite to happiness with another person.
He will turn the truth into a lie to support sexual orientation. He will argue that it’s not a choice, not realizing that if you remove choice from any decision, you remove morality from every decision, meaning that anything that is done to them or anyone else, neither right or wrong.
All this reveals is the power of human desire. By nature it is demonic, and it will turn any truth into a lie to support its end.
And this is why you don’t believe. You desire something that which demands your unbelief. Sex, companionship, friendships, money, partying, drugs, etc. There are things in your life that demand you remain in unbelief, and you’re selling out to them. This is why find it hard to believe.
IV. YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THE LAW CONDEMNS INDISCRIMINATELY v45-47
Remember, Jesus isn’t trying to be hard on these people for the sake of it. He is telling them the truth because He has a love for them. He weeps over them. He is distressed by their relentless unbelief.
v45 – “in whom ye trust” i.e. you trust in the Law, but you don’t see the one he revealed.
v46-47 – this is the kind of language that gets a man killed. This would have driven the Jews mad.
This is not a problem the Jews only have. Sure they were and are blind. Indeed, they have a double blindness upon them. But this problem of unbelief cuts across all ethnic groups, because no one wants to believe.
Close – these are the reasons why the Jews didn’t believe, and are perhaps the reasons why you have yet to believe.
v44 – Why does a love for man prevent faith in Christ? Why can’t you have both? Why does Jesus say you can’t? Faith gives glory to God and expects nothing for self. The reason you believe in Christ is because you realize there’s nothing honourable in yourself.
Christ will set you free from this enslaving position. He sets us free by making us seek the approval of God in spite of the approval of men.