John 5:41-44 (NIV) 41 “I do not accept praise from men, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?
On verses 41-44: Interesting. Jesus seems to be saying that if you’re all about living for people’s praise and approval and are not interested in pleasing God, this will keep you from an effective, saving, fruitful faith in God. In other words, faith is a heart issue.
John 5:45-47 (NIV) 45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
On verse 45: Why does Jesus call Moses the “accuser” of the Jews (v45)? It’s because Moses wrote down the Jewish law, the ultimate purpose of which was to show the Jews how far they fall short of God’s standards. So “Moses” here is a reference to the Jewish law, not so much Moses the person. While Moses (i.e. the Jewish law) accused the Jews and showed them that they were sinners who failed God’s standards and who deserved death as punishment, Jesus came not to accuse and punish the Jews further for their sins but to save them from their sins.
How had the Jews set their hopes on Moses (v45b)? The Jews had “set” their hopes” on Moses in that they thought that by obeying the Jewish law they could gain eternal life. The Jews thought that they could earn God’s approval and entrance into heaven by their own merit and performance. But in thinking this way, they missed the point of the Jewish law, which ultimately was there to show their need for a Saviour. That is why Jesus came, to be the Saviour the Jews – and all people everywhere – need.
In what way did Moses write about Jesus (v46)? Here’s one way: by writing down the Jewish law which pointed to the Jews’ need for a Saviour, Moses “wrote about” (v46) Jesus. By not seeing their need for a Saviour when they thought about the law, the Jews were effectively not believing what Moses had written (v47), despite saying that their hope was in what Moses had written. Some scholars believe that Deuteronomy 18:15 is also Moses writing about Jesus and how he would come to earth one day.
Lord Jesus, since faith is a heart issue, I pray that a love for the praise and approval of people would not control me and hamper my faith. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for not coming to be our accuser but our Saviour. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!