( A Commentary on John 5: 31-47)
Daily Reflection – 3/18/2021
Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. “I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:31-47)
Can you hear the frustration of Jesus in this Gospel passage? Does its message possibly reflect who you are?
Jesus’ opponents refused to accept his authority to speak and act in the name of God. And they refused to believe that he was sent from the Father in heaven. They demanded evidence for his claim to be equal with God. Jesus answers their charges with the supporting evidence of witnesses: John the Baptist, the miracles that Jesus performed, the authority of God, his father and the words of Moses.
But for some in his audience it was not enough. For too many today, it is not enough.
Jesus said: ‘As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ He is the source of our light. It is Jesus who turns the darkness of our judgements, pettiness, prejudice and discrimination into light. When we have Jesus in our hearts and our lives then our attitude changes. Jesus, the light of the world, helps us to emerge from our darkness and to walk in the light of faith and truth.
Yet far too many view this as a challenge. Again, and again, we are confronted with the light and truth of love and yet we close our hearts. We stumble away into some blind alley, clinging to the darkness that seems safe and familiar. We fail to open fully to the life-force that confronts us in the beauty of creation or some tender word of kindness or act of generosity. We turn away from the honest admonishment in a word of truth that we need to hear but refuse to accept.
We are like the people to whom Jesus spoke in John 5. We are faced with light and life but choose darkness and death. The beauty of life calls us to embrace the light of love that is embodied in Jesus in whatever way that light is manifest in our lives.
We are into the fourth week of what should be the Lenten conversion that God wants to work in us. We need to ask ourselves how indifferent we are to everything God has given us to strengthen our faith and help us to grow in our relationship with Jesus.
Do we still have hatred in our hearts for some long-ago hurt? Do we let words of discrimination – no matter how subtle – leap from our mouths? Do we take the words of Scripture and twist them to fit our personal perspective? Do we wrap the cloak of frequent trips to Church to hide the fact that our daily lives do not reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ? Do we have jealousy in our hearts for someone that has more, acts better, or simply and sincerely tries to live the Gospel?
In the end, the final end, it all comes down to this — we can say that we believed, that we loved God but was that reflected in our lives? For the works that we performed will testify on our behalf.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may listen to your word attentively and obey it joyfully.”
Scripture tells us that God reveals himself to the lowly, to those who trust not in themselves but in God alone. The lowly of heart listen to God’s word with an eagerness to learn and to obey. The Lord Jesus reveals to us the very mind and heart of God. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, he opens our ears so that we may hear his voice and he fills our hearts and minds with the love and knowledge of God. Do you believe that God’s word has power to set you free from sin and ignorance and to transform you to be like him?