Monthly Archives: February 2011

John 6:22-27 – Junk Food Diet

Our Diving Deeper lesson title comes from Jesus’ words in verse 27 – “Do not labor for the food that perishes”.
• In the last two weeks, we examined both the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water.
• In today’s text, Jesus warns those who benefited from His displays of power not to miss the main point.
• He gives this warning in John 6:27.
• And His words reveal a simple but remarkable insight that should have revolutionary implications in the life of the Christian as well as the unbeliever.
• I hope to uncover some of them as we dive in to Jesus’ words.
• But first, let’s look at a couple of other helpful observations shared by John.

Firstly, John’s peculiar play-by-play:
• In verses 22-24, we are given an oddly specific account of the crowd’s realization that Jesus is gone.
• The crowd discerns that the disciples’ and their boat was gone, that Jesus did not leave with the disciples, and yet Jesus is gone.
• However perplexed by Jesus’ method of exit, the crowd then sought to find Him in Capernaum.

Secondly, Why Capernaum?
• Matthew 4:13 (ESV) — 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali,
• Jesus had apparently moved there and so it had become the base of operations for His Galilean ministry.


John 6:24-25 (ESV) — 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?”

An act of grace:
• The crowd can teach us a couple of valuable lessons
• (1) Notice when Jesus is gone
• (2) Jesus is worth pursuing

(1) Notice when Jesus is gone – “the crowd saw that Jesus was not there” – John 6:24.
• This is a fairly simple statement, but it is profound in its implication.
Why did the crowd know that Jesus was gone?
• The simple answer is that they saw Him yesterday, but today they did not.
• But the profound answer is that it was God’s grace that assured that the crowd would know Jesus was not there.

Before one’s absence can be known, one’s presence must be made known.
• This is easily established by looking at the obituaries – in most cases you would never know these folks were gone.
• But, by His grace, Jesus made Himself known to the crowd in such a powerful way that His absence would become wonderfully obvious.
• He miraculously fed them when they were hungry and left them wanting more.

How does God, in His grace, continue to make Himself known to all people that they may sense His absence?
• Creation
• Conscience
• Objective Morality
• Presuppositions for the foundation of reason and knowledge

And for the believer, do we examine our lives to see where Jesus may be missing?
• Possibilities include our marriage, our parenting, our free time, our job or our church.
• We need to be honest with our weaknesses so that we can improve.

(2) Jesus is worth pursuing – They “…went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus [and] they found him…” – John 6:24-25.
• Again, this is another fairly simple statement, but it is significant.
• One must do more than just recognize Jesus’ absence; one must also pursue and follow Him.
• And the crowd can be commended for getting in their boats and doing just that.

And for the believer, do you pursue Jesus?
• What is the evidence in your life that you do so?

But Jesus takes it up a notch when he challenges the crowd’s reason for pursuing Him.
• Let’s take a look at that now.

John 6:25-26 (ESV) — 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.

How to pursue Jesus:
• Apparently there is a wrong reason to pursue and a right reason to pursue.
• In our text today, Jesus equates the right reason with seeing signs – “not because you saw signs” (v. 26).
• And he equates the wrong reason with meeting worldly needs – “because you ate your fill of the loaves” (v. 26).
• Let’s take a look at each.

Right Reason – “you saw signs”:
John 5:36 (ESV) — 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
John 10:25 (ESV) — 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,
• In John 5, Jesus revealed that signs give testimony to who He is and who sent Him.
• Signs are a “confirmation of intervention” in Jesus by the Father who sent Him – BDAG.
• In other words, the signs themselves aren’t the point; it is what they point to.
  o We even saw last week that the disciples stumble with this right pursuit from time to time.
• The feeding, “was a symbol-laden miracle, a ‘sign’ that pointed to the gospel itself, to Jesus himself” – D.A. Carson.
  o So the right reason for pursuing Jesus is to pursue the Father’s Jesus not the world’s Jesus.
  o The Father’s Jesus, the one John is teaching us about, is ultimately the cross and Gospel.

Wrong Reason – “ate your fill”:
Philippians 2:21 (ESV) — 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:19 (ESV) — 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
• Jesus discerns their motives and condemns the reason for their pursuit.
• A pursuit of Jesus that seeks to meet earthly needs only is a selfish pursuit and a wrong pursuit.
Why do people pursue Jesus for the wrong reasons?
How is it that anyone can pursue Him for the right reasons?
  o Nicodemus would know the answer.
  o And in the coming weeks Jesus also provides additional insight into this question.

Warren Wiersbe sums up their wrong pursuit as follows:
• “In grace, our Lord fed the hungry people; but in truth, He gave them the Word of God. They wanted the food but they did not want the truth; and, in the end, most of them abandoned Jesus and refused to walk with Him.

Jesus then makes a statement about the right pursuit of Him that sets up His Bread of Life discourse in the remainder of John 6.
• It is a profound statement about priorities and what really matters.
• We will look at it next.


John 6:27 (ESV) — 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
• Jesus “is rebuking their purely materialistic notions of the kingdom” – D.A. Carson.
• Jesus wants them to realize what matters – “food that endures to eternal life”.
• This is exactly what he was trying to tell the woman at the well.
  o John 4:14 (ESV) — 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
• Food and water sustain physical life, but Jesus gives both physical life and eternal life!
• Jesus makes the point in Matthew’s gospel as follows:
  o Matthew 5:6 (ESV) — 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
  o I want to be satisfied in Jesus!

Then Jesus addresses the source of this food – “which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
• Jesus is the source, and as we will see in His Bread of Life discourse, because He is the food!
• Notice that His argument, His reason for us to labor for His food, like John 5, is rooted in the Father.
• Jesus says the food comes from Him because the Father “has set his seal” on Him.
• And the Father has set His seal on Jesus via all the ways Jesus taught us in John 5.
  o What were the ways Jesus spoke of?

BTW – It must be pointed out that when Jesus speaks of “do not labor for”, He is not talking about works but priorities informed by a right understanding (as already discussed) of who He is.
• The crowd, as they often do, makes this mistake as we will see next week in John 6:28.

How do we labor for “the food that endures to eternal life”?
• When we earn our paychecks, do we do so for money, food, to pay the bills, to provide for our families, to go on vacation?
• Clearly, we do.
• But, Jesus seems to be saying that these reasons are not the right reasons.
• He also says as much here:
  o Matthew 6:25 (ESV) — 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

To be clear, Jesus clearly made us to work and we are to work.
• Ephesians 4:28 (ESV) — 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
• Colossians 3:23 (ESV) — 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
• 1 Thessalonians 2:9 (ESV) — 9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
• 2 Thessalonians 3:8 (ESV) — 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you.
• 2 Thessalonians 3:11 (ESV) — 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.

So what does it mean to labor for the food than endures while at the same time earning money to pay bills?
• I think an analogy may help us here.
• Since Jesus is speaking of food, we will expand the metaphor.

A junk food diet:
• I think it can be said that when we work for ourselves instead of Christ, it can be said that we are forsaking a healthy diet for a junk food diet.
• To labor for ourselves and even for our families instead of for Christ is laboring for “food that perishes”.
• And I find it interesting, in fact, that 1/3 of the American diet consists of junk food – “food that perishes”.

Bad things happen on a junk food diet AND when we labor for “food that perishes”:
• Junk food – Depression // Food that perishes – Spiritual Depression
• Junk food – Weakened Immune System // Food that perishes – More Susceptible to Doubt
• Junk food – Obesity // Food that perishes – Spiritually Apathetic in our Relationship with God

We must retrain ourselves to work for Christ.
• It is Christ’s glory we seek, not ours.
• We must learn to do things, or not do things, that elevate Christ even at the expense of our pride.

Paul puts it like this:
• Colossians 3:23 (ESV) — 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
• Philippians 2:13–16 (ESV) — 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

John 6:16-21 – It Was Now Dark and Jesus Had Not Yet Come

Our Diving Deeper lesson title comes from Jesus’ words in verse 17 – “It was now dark and Jesus had not yet come to them”.
• I see these words as deeply symbolic of the nature of Jesus’ relationship with us and His attempts to grow us spiritually and emotionally – heart, mind and will.
• We will explore how our text today makes this apparent.

A couple of observations before we get started:
(1) There are, when surveying Matthew, Mark & John’s accounts of this story, actually 4 miracles to be found.
• Jesus walks on water – John 6:19
• Peter walks on water – Matthew 14:29
• Jesus stops the storm – Matthew 14:32 & Mark 6:51
• Jesus immediately brings the boat to its destination – John 6:21
(2) It is also worth pointing out the time frame of this trip
• The boat trip started “when evening came” (John 6:16), that is between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.
• And from John 6:18 it appears the wind was already blowing at their departure time.
• And we learn from Matthew 14:25 and Mark 6:48 that as late as the “fourth watch of the night” they were still fighting the wind and waves, that is from 3:00 to 6:00 a.m.
• They had only managed to row “about three or four miles” (John 6:19) during this 6+ hour ordeal.

A quick word about this boat filled with 12 men (ESV Study Bible).
• The “Jesus Boat” was about 26.5 feet long, 7.5 feet wide and 4.5 feet high
• The Sea of Galilee is about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide
• They were a little fish in a big pond and in the dark

Taking into account these observations, let’s see if we can learn a few valuable lessons from our text today.


John 6:16–17 (ESV) — 16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.

At the risk of stating the obvious, Jesus sent His disciples off to Capernaum in the dark.
• But, symbolically speaking, the darkness they faced was a lot more than a setting sun.
From the disciples’ perspective, what did the “darkness” consist of?
    o A rough sea and strong wind – John 6:18
    o “The wind was against them” – Mark 6:48
    o They were “beaten by the waves” – Matthew 14:24
    o They were making “headway painfully” – Mark 6:48
    o And on top of all that, they were ultimately “terrified” at the sight of Jesus – Mark 6:50

In Acts 16 we see another example that “darkness” is not uncommon in the life of the believer.
• Acts 16:19 – Paul and Silas were seized and dragged to marketplace.
• Acts 16:22 – their clothes were stripped off.
• Acts 16:22 – they were attacked by the mob.
• Acts 16:22 – they were beaten with rods.
• Acts 16:23 – after many blows, they were thrown into prison.
• Acts 16:24 – they were put in stocks that spread their legs to induce additional pain.

Laura Hillenbrand’s latest book, Unbroken, tells us about the “darkness” faced by Louis Zamperini:
• In 1943, Louis crashed in the Pacific while on a rescue mission during WWII
• He and 2 survivors were adrift for 47 days
• He was attacked by sharks
• He was shot at by Japanese dive bombers
• Eventually he was rescued by the Japanese
• He was held as a POW for 2 years
• While a prisoner he was severely mistreated and tortured – starved, beaten, humiliated
• In 1945, he was freed
• When freed, he became an alcoholic trying to cope with the trauma he endured
• His marriage was falling apart
• He was filled with anger and nightmares (woke up to realize he was strangling his wife)
• He was obsessed with revenge and killing “The Bird” one of his notorious guards

A harmonization of our text today, teaches us a profound truth about the “darkness” faced by the disciples.
• In John 6:15 we see that after Jesus sent the disciples off, He “withdrew again to the mountain by himself”.
During the hours that the disciples were struggling Jesus was on the mountain doing what?
    o I would suggest He was certainly praying and, among other things, probably praying for the maturation of His disciples
• In fact, we are told in Mark 6:48 that “he saw that they were making headway painfully”.
• So, profoundly, Jesus was “watching” them struggle.
• And in this sense He was with them.
But why was he “watching” them for 6+ hours and not saving them?
    o In some ways it almost seems sadistic.
    o We will get to that in a minute.

First, we need to resolve the story.


John 6:19–21 (ESV) — 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

So 6+ hours later, Jesus finally chose to come to the rescue of the disciples and He did so in a miraculous way.
• Matthew, Mark and John all tell us that the disciples were terrified by the sight of Jesus walking on the water.
• Given the fact that it was dark, perhaps Jesus was somehow illuminated so that they might see Him thereby making the scene eerie.
• But upon speaking, “It is I”, the disciples recognized Jesus and in so doing Jesus’ presence immediately brought peace to the disciples and to the sea.
• And as one more display of Jesus’ power, “immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going”.
• This fourth miracle suggests that the “darkness” the disciples faced had a specific purpose and figuratively led them to a place they needed to be.
• Let’s see what that purpose or reason may have been.


As mentioned previously, Jesus “watched” the disciples endure the “darkness” for hours.
• I suggested that this could seem somewhat sadistic.

But it is even more troubling when we consider the following:
• The phrase “He made” in Matt 14:22 and Mark 6:45 literally means “to force or compel by authoritative command” – Zhodhiates.
• In other words, Jesus made the disciples depart knowing full well the “darkness” that was to come.
• It was not a surprise to Jesus and it was not an accident.
• And this leads us to the first of at least (2) reasons for the “darkness” and Jesus’ role in it.

Reasons for the “darkness”:
(1) “They were safer in the storm in God’s will than on land with the crowds out of God’s will. We must never judge our security on the basis of circumstances alone” – Warren Wiersbe.
• In John 6:15, we see that the crowd was going to take Jesus by force and make Him King.
• It is not out of bounds to consider that the disciples themselves would have been supportive of this action.
• Wiersbe observes that at this point in the disciples’ spiritual walk, “Their ideas of the kingdom were still too national and political”.
    o And shortly, we will see evidence of their immaturity.
• So remarkably, the takeaway here is that the “darkness” we face at any given time could very well be an expression of God’s grace.
    o In other words, the “darkness” we are in now is better for us than the “darkness” we would have faced had circumstances gone the way that makes sense to us.

So we get why Jesus sent them into the “darkness” of the storm.
• Now let’s discuss why Jesus watched and waited – “had not yet come to them” (John 6:17).

Matthew 14:33 tells us that after Jesus showed up, the disciples “worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’”.
• Clearly a right response to the four miracles they just witnessed and an improvement.
• However, Mark 6:52 makes this statement, “for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened”.
• And this leads us to the 2nd reason for the “darkness”.

(2) “Darkness” or “storms” are sometimes necessary for hardened hearts.
Jesus put it plainly in Marks’s Gospel.
• Mark 8:17–21 (ESV) — 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20 “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?
• So, from Mark 6:52 and the passages we just read, we see that a purpose of the storm was related directly to the disciples’ inability to rightly understand the power of Jesus.
• John 6:6 tells us the event with the hungry 5,000 was a test and Mark’s Gospel makes it clear that the disciples failed the test.

What is a hardened heart in this context?
• This word, “hardened” literally refers to “a small piece of stone broken off from a larger one”.
• Metaphorically, it denotes an inability to “sense” truth due to a hardness present in one’s heart.
So what was it that the disciples did not understand or “sense” (Mark 8:21)?
• Apparently the disciples did not rightly understand Jesus’ power and the significance of it.
• And this lack of right understanding, or hard heart as Mark and Jesus call it, manifested itself in actions that were contrary to a belief in Christ as Lord and Savior.
• And according to Mark 6:51 the action caused by the lack of a right understanding was to be “utterly astounded”!
    o BDAG defines this phrase as “astonishment mingled with fear, caused by events which are miraculous, extraordinary, or difficult to understand.”

What is wrong with being “utterly astounded” and unable to understand the significance of the power of Jesus?
• Perhaps it is wrong because proper worship begins with recognizing who God is and not simply what He does for us.
• In other words, Jesus is who He is not because of what He does, but because of who He is and because of whose authority He operates.
• So to only recognize Jesus’ power is not to understand its true source and significance.

James Boice makes the following observation:
• In John 6:12, we are told that the disciples gathered the leftovers from the feeding into 12 baskets at Jesus’ command, presumably for them, so that “nothing may be lost”.
• We also see later in Mark 8:14 that this was something that Jesus did with them more than once.
    o Mark 8:14 (ESV) — 14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Boice then asks the question, where was the bread?
In other words, evidence for the source and significance of Jesus’ power was “right under their noses”!
• And yet they were still “utterly astounded”.

Lessons for Us:
In one way, the hard hearted condition of the disciples is troubling because it reveals that believers are not immune to this devastating problem.
• But, this is something that I don’t think comes as a surprise to us.
• And so, because of this, the hard hearted condition of the disciples is oddly comforting.

And additionally, we should now have a better perspective on the “darkness” or “storms” we face as believers.
• They may very well be an expression of God’s grace.
• And they certainly are designed to grow us and soften our hearts.
• Warren Weirsbe puts it like this – the “darkness” or “storm” we are in is either
    o Storm of Correction
    o Storm of Perfection
• In either case, it does not mean that God has left the believer alone.
• It may seem as if “Jesus had not yet come”, but He is with us, praying for us, and waiting for us.

Remember Louis Zamperini’s 6 years of hell that we mentioned briefly.
• For 6 long years, “Jesus had not yet come”.
• But in 1949 Jesus did arrive in Louis’ life and he was saved at a Billy Graham crusade.
• And when he looked back with a born again heart at his life, he saw Jesus everywhere.

John 5:38-47 – Jesus’ Apologetic Part III – Testimony of Scripture

In the past two weeks we have explored why the Jews sought to kill Jesus “all the more” (John 5:18).

In Part I, we discussed the Jews’ accusations concerning Jesus:
  • Breaking the Sabbath (John 5:18)
  • Making Himself Equal with God (John 5:18)

And in Part II, we discussed Jesus’ response to these accusations in His description of:
  • (1) The Father/Son Relationship
  • (2) The Testimony of the Father/Son Relationship
  • (3) Implications of the Father/Son Relationship for Us

Today, in finishing John 5, we will detail Jesus’ description of how Scripture bears witness to these three things.
  • Jesus, in fact, goes so far as to even link belief in Him to belief in Scripture’s written testimony of Him.

James Boice characterizes Jesus’ discussion of Scripture in our text today as:
  • The Misuse of Scripture
  • The Accusation of Scripture

We will gladly borrow his insight.


John 5:38–44 (ESV) — 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

Jesus highlights at least (3) ways the Jews misused Scripture.
  • (1) Scripture is not to be used to justify
  • (2) Scripture does not bring eternal life
  • (3) Scripture is the standard not humanity

We will explore them one at a time.

(1) Scripture is not to be used to justify
In John 5:39, Jesus tells the Jews, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life”.
  • They casted aside faith and created a new Biblical view of salvation based on works.
  • Jesus did not shy away from making clear the disdain He had for this misuse of Scripture.
    o Matthew 23:27 (ESV) — 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.

Paul also battled this misuse of Scripture throughout his ministry.
  • Galatians 3:1–2 (ESV) — 1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?
  • Galatians 3:10–11 (ESV) — 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

James pointed out the folly of this misuse of Scripture.
  • James 2:10 (ESV) — 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.
  • James tells us that perfection in observance of ALL of the law is required to be justified by the law.
  • As we well know, only Jesus has lived such a life.

Paul also teaches that the misuse of Scripture to justify can harden the heart.
  • Acts 13:39–41 (ESV) — 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: 41 “ ‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’ ”

(2) Scripture does not bring eternal life
Again, in John 5:39, Jesus says, “…in them you have eternal life”.
  • “Jesus insists that there is nothing intrinsically life-giving about studying the Scriptures, if one fails to discern their true content and purpose” – D.A. Carson.
  • What is Scripture’s role in our salvation?
  • What is it that justifies us if not Scripture?

(3) Scripture is the standard not humanity
In John 5:44, Jesus accuses the Jews of usurping the divine standard of Scripture and replacing it with human standards, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
  • Kostenberger describes these Jews as being, “so self-absorbed in the fulfillment of their religious duties that they had no room for God’s revelation” – Andreas Kostenberger.

William Barclay sums this third point up beautifully when he says:
  • “The point is not: ‘Am I as good as my neighbor?’ The point is: ‘Am I as good as God?’ The point is not: ‘Is my scholarship and is my piety greater than that of other people whom I could name?’ The point is: ‘What do I look like to God?’ So long as we judge ourselves by human comparisons there is plenty of room for self-satisfaction, and self-satisfaction kills faith, for faith is born of the sense of need. But when we compare ourselves with Jesus Christ, and through Him, with God, we are humbled to the dust, and then faith is born, for there is nothing left to do but to trust to the mercy of God.
  • What are some biblical examples of those who were “humbled to the dust”?

In citing the misuse of Scripture, Jesus also gives us some hints as to what the Right use of Scripture is.
  • (1) Scripture is to Abide in us
  • (2) Scripture is to be seen as testifying to the truth of Christ

(1) Scripture is to Abide in us
In John 5:38, Jesus tells us that what the Jews are doing wrong is that they, “do not have his word abiding in you”.
  • And conversely in John 8:31, he tells the Jews that did believe in Him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples”.

What does it mean to Abide in Scripture?
  • It is more than just an intellectual understanding of Scripture.
  • In fact, a real understanding of Scripture is not even possible unless we abide in it.
  • The Greek word, Meno, means to remain, dwell or live.
  • D.A. Carson describes it as absorbing God’s revelation.
  • The Psalmist puts it like this, Psalm 119:11 (ESV) — 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

From all these we can deduce that whatever abiding is:
  • (1) It endures; it is not fickle.
  • (2) It softens our heart and conscience, and makes us vulnerable to the truth of Scripture.
  • (3) It leads directly to right actions, “might not sin”.
    o This is just as we learned in the “Heart and Mind of Belief” lesson.
  • (4) It is a means to our sanctification.

And an abiding in Scripture has other benefits:
  • “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” – Jeremiah 15:16
    o Food, Joy and Delight
  • “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” – John 17:17
    o Truth
  • “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” – Romans 15:4
    o Encouragement and Hope

(2) Scripture is to be seen as testifying to the truth of Christ
In John 5:39, Jesus proclaims of Scripture that, “it is they that bear witness about me”.
  • In other words, the right use of Scripture and the law is to point to a need for Christ and not for works.

Paul makes this plainly clearly throughout his epistles, but especially in Galatians and Romans.
  • Galatians 3:24 (ESV) — 24 So then, the law was our guardian [tutor] until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
  • Romans 10:4 (ESV) — 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
  • And we can look at Acts 13:16-41 to see in detail how Paul argues for Christ and the Gospel from the OT.

BTW– This is why “The Way of the Master” method of Ray Comfort is so compelling. It uses the law to point us to our need for Christ and to reveal to us the dead end of works.

BTW – In John 5:43 – Jesus alludes back to the F/S Relationship from last week’s lesson and provides for us some historical insight into the habit of the Jews of following false Messiah’s who don’t have the Father’s testimony.

Moving on, Jesus proceeds to reveal the relationship between belief in Scripture and belief in Him.


John 5:45–47 (ESV) — 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Jesus said “he wrote of me” in verse 46, so let’s confirm that Moses did speak of Christ.
  • Numbers 21:8–9 (ESV) — 8 And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
  • Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV) — 15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—
  • Deuteronomy 18:18 (ESV) — 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.

And Luke told of how, on the Road to Emmaus, Jesus Himself explained how Moses and the OT testified of Him.
  • Luke 24:27 (ESV) — 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

But how is it that Moses will accuse the Jews (5:45)?

The accusation is that because there is no belief in Christ, there is no right belief in Scripture and Moses.
  • In our text today (John 5:47), Jesus puts it as follows, “if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?
  • This accusation demonstrates there are right and wrong ways to understand Scripture!

Paul takes the accusations even farther – they aren’t even real Jews.
  • Romans 2:28–29 (ESV) — 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
    o Paul, in 29, even addresses the same issue Jesus did in John 5:44 – humanity is not the standard.

Jesus’ words elsewhere take the accusations up another notch:
  • John 8:47 (ESV) — 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
    o We learned from John 3 that those who “hear” (believe) are those who are born again.
    o So these Jews are those who, from John 3, remain under God’s wrath and love darkness.
  • 1 John 5:10 (ESV) — 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.
    o A Serious Accusation Indeed – if there is no belief in Scripture’s testimony about Christ then there is no belief in God the Father because, as we saw last week, the Father is the authority behind and the primary testimony of Christ.

On a side note concerning Scripture, elsewhere Jesus even testifies that the testimony of Scripture is sufficient for belief.
  • Luke 16:29–31 (ESV) — 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ” (from The Rich Man and Lazarus).
  • In other words, evidence is not the real issue!
  • Let’s go down this rabbit trail briefly.

The issue is a right and abiding relationship with Scripture.
  • Scripture is the testimony and the evidence that Christ is the Messiah.
  • And Jesus indicates again and again that Scripture is to be believed [by implication the Gospel] because it is from the Father.

John Frame takes Jesus teaching on the testimony of Scripture to its logical conclusion when he defines faith:
  • “Faith does not believe despite the absence of evidence; rather, faith honors God’s word as sufficient evidence”.
  • Therefore, as we mentioned last week, unbelief cannot be blamed on a lack of evidence.

But can belief have any basis on evidence outside of God’s word?
  • Yes but, “…it is not decisive. God’s sovereign illumination is decisive” – John Piper.
  • “It gives reassurance to faith and it displays the rationality of Scripture itself” – John Frame.
  • Remember, from the Saving Faith and Spurious Faith lesson we learned that faith based on evidence (works) is a Spurious Faith.
  • And a spurious faith operates on the notion that “seeing is believing”.
  • Whereas, a saving faith operates on the notion that “believing is seeing” – Boice.

Apologetically, this outside evidence does have a value:
  • It can be used to, “sweep aside rationalizations [and] arguments by which the subject resists conversion” – John Frame.

Moving on, Jesus’ has affirmed the place of Scripture in testifying to Himself.
  • He has accused the Jews of not believing the very Scripture they claim to hold so dear.
  • And He has challenged us to have a right relationship with Scripture and not to misuse it for the glory of man.

Lesson for us:
  • Using Scripture to justify is to trust our work – man is on the throne.
  • Abiding in Scripture is to trust Christ’s work – Christ is on the throne.
  • Real belief in Christ is trusting in the revelation of who He is as declared in the Word of God.

Quick summary of John 5 and our three Jesus’ Apologetics Lessons:
  • Jesus does claim to be equal to the Father
  • Jesus can work on the Sabbath because the Father works on the Sabbath
  • Jesus operated under the authority of the Father
  • Jesus was dependent on the Father
  • Jesus was obedient to the Father
  • Jesus was due the same honor as the Father
  • John the Baptist, the Father (via works and HS) and Scripture bear witness to Jesus
  • Those who “hear” Jesus live
  • Jesus judgment is just
  • Jesus warns of the misuse of Scripture
  • Jesus uses Scripture to accuse
  • To not believe Jesus is to not believe Scripture