25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice — the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. 27 And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. 28 Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, 29 and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. 30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.
31 If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. 33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. 36 But I have a greater witness than John — my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not trust me — the one he sent to you.
39 You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.
41 Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t trust! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.
45 Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really trusted Moses, you would trust me, because he wrote about me. 47 But since you don’t trust what he wrote, how will you trust what I say?”
It would take an entire book to unpack everything going on in this passage. But there is only one thing I want to focus on today. The religious leaders Jesus was addressing here were experts in the Hebrew Bible. They had much (if not all) of it memorized and had devoted their lives to understanding it. No doubt they had searched Scripture to understand what to think about John the Baptist and Jesus, as Jesus acknowledges in v. 39. The problem with their reading, however, was they were not reading Scripture through the lens of God’s love for them and the whole world. So much depends on how we approach Scripture, which is the basic message I’ve been trying all year to get across.
Because we are at least as prone as these religious leaders ever were to reading the Bible with unloving eyes. We don’t know the Scriptures as well as they did and we struggle as much as they did to read it in love, which puts us in an even more difficult place when it comes to really understanding what God is trying to communicate to us through Scripture. Remember how I told you John’s Gospel carried the main themes of God’s love for the world and the world’s hostility toward God? Even those of us who are in active relationship with God are still part of this hostile-to-God world. Our default mode of thinking is not loving, it is hostile. Hostile to God. Hostile to each other. Hostile even to our own selves. To really get what’s going on here, we have to interpret it all – Scripture, the world, each other, ourselves – through the framework of the love of God. It has become popular in some circles to talk about a “Christian worldview,” and while I generally despise such thinking (for reasons I should share here at some point), if there is any such thing as a way Christians are to view the world, it is through the love of God.
Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the importance of this. And don’t underestimate the difficulty.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.