person in cassock standing on altar

John 5:41 – 47

[New to our exegesis of John’s Gospel? Try starting at The BeginningJohn 1:1-2].

41 I do not accept glory from humans. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

41 δόξαν παρὰ ἀνθρώπων οὐ λαμβάνω, 42 ἀλλὰ ἔγνωκα ὑμᾶς ὅτι τὴν ἀγάπην τοῦ θεοῦ οὐκ ἔχετε ἐν ἑαυτοῖς. 43 ἐγὼ ἐλήλυθα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ πατρός μου καὶ οὐ λαμβάνετέ με· ἐὰν ἄλλος ἔλθῃ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τῷ ἰδίῳ, ἐκεῖνον λήμψεσθε. 44 πῶς δύνασθε ὑμεῖς πιστεῦσαι, δόξαν παρ’ ἀλλήλων λαμβάνοντες, καὶ τὴν δόξαν τὴν παρὰ τοῦ μόνου θεοῦ οὐ ζητεῖτε; 45 μὴ δοκεῖτε ὅτι ἐγὼ κατηγορήσω ὑμῶν πρὸς τὸν πατέρα· ἔστιν ὁ κατηγορῶν ὑμῶν Μωϋσῆς, εἰς ὃν ὑμεῖς ἠλπίκατε. 46 εἰ γὰρ ἐπιστεύετε Μωϋσεῖ, ἐπιστεύετε ἂν ἐμοί, περὶ γὰρ ἐμοῦ ἐκεῖνος ἔγραψεν. 47 εἰ δὲ τοῖς ἐκείνου γράμμασιν οὐ πιστεύετε, πῶς τοῖς ἐμοῖς ῥήμασιν πιστεύσετε;

The Glory Doesn’t Belong to You!

Jesus has been accused of pride, ascribing to himself divinity. But Jesus turns the tables on the religious leaders and makes accusations against them. He says they do not have the love of God in them. It is unclear whether he is referring to the absence of their love for God; or, they lack God’s love for others in their hearts. The ambiguity, however, works when we remember that our love of God is lived out by loving others. In any event, Jesus finds them loveless.

Well, “loveless” isn’t exactly right. They love themselves. Jesus accuses them of being so enthralled with themselves and their self-praise that they have no room to glorify or recognized God. They are easily duped by false messiahs but miss the Real One. They care more about their their religious activity than what their religion was meant to focus on — God!

And then, Jesus brings his accusation to another level. He said even their religious hero, Moses, whom they believed interceded before God on their behalf, accuses them because they have fallen so far outside the faith of Moses that they do not recognize the One who came from God.

I find this passage especially sobering. In our last section we experienced the challenge to live out the message of Jesus in our hearts. In this section, the challenge is to seek the praise of God rather than human beings. This may sound easy, but it’s not — it is, in fact, impossible without God’s help. Everything about us seeks the approval and affirmation from others. We even learn and grow by imitating (cf. Rene Girard) each other. Even in our non-conformity we are seeking the approval of being such!

But Jesus challenges us to seek rather the praise of God; meaning, to live out the message of Jesus as acts of giving glory to God, and affirming the Kingdom of God, rather than the praise of humans.

This is ridiculously hard to do, but in it is Life!

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