John 5:46 ‘If ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me.’

October 13, 2018 by David Farmer 0 comments

Posted in: Weekly Commentary

John 5:46 ‘If ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me.’

If ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? This seems to powerfully connect the Old Testament scriptures with those of the New Testament. Is it not fair to consider this to be true from these very words of Jesus Christ? We have been just recently reminded of the flow, if you will, of the Older Testament into the Newer. Men have ever been ‘wrongly dividing the Word of truth’ in multifold ways and under a multitude of motives. How often have we become witnesses of the bibles of numerous individuals, relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, and so on, to discover the pages of Matthew through Revelation [especially Revelation] to be ‘finger-worn’ from repeated resorting to the gospels, the Acts, the epistles, having it appears read them again and again. But to our amazement, the pages of the Older Testament are barely touched; yea, those thirty-nine books possess the quality of a brand- new book. It is sadly conspicuous as the reason for this division. An extremely popular teaching in the visible church today (and for the last almost two-hundred years) has slighted the books of the Old Testament, teaching some times that they are not even for the ‘church’ today. And as the result of this, they are in many hands, in many homes, in many churches, virtually unknown.

These words forming our focus passage this week are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to an audience made up of Jews, angry Jews at that, and they were not pleased with His words. He had gone up to the feast at Jerusalem; a feast of the Jews we are told in 5:1. Here He had come upon an impotent man at the pool of Bethesda, where was a certain man who had been thirty and eight years in his infirmity; so we are told by John the Evangelist. Jesus healed him in less than thirty and eight seconds. Straightway the man responded to Jesus directions, ‘Arise, take up thy bed and walk,’ to which he reacted with vigor, taking up his bed and walking. This formed one of the grounds of the anger that rose against our Lord. They had complained because He healed a man on the sabbath. Verse 16 relates that for this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did these things on the sabbath. Jesus’ answer to them contained more grounds for consternation as He referred to God as His Father. For this cause therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him. They were incensed for that He had healed that poor man on the sabbath. In the ensuing dialogue, these men were repeatedly the more stirred up against Him for the things that He was saying. It is nothing less than astounding that such was the case; they did not hear His words even because they could not hear His words. It wasn’t that they were a people more evil than ourselves. It was precisely what had been spoken of through the prophet, Isaiah, and others. Jesus declaimed against them when He said, if ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me. This is perfectly supported in Luke’s gospel and the well-known account of the two on the road to Emmaus that were joined by the risen Christ Himself. These two were ‘down-in-the-dumps’ to say the least, from what had so recently transpired in Jerusalem. When the risen Lord inquired of them why they were looking sad, they told Him, The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.

The sequel is glorious and grand, as our Lord charged them with foolishness and being slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. In other words, He took them to the Old Testament—of course, the New had not yet been written, but the point is that He informed them as He attempted to inform those Jews, in our focus passage, that Moses and the prophets had spoken of Him. He said,

Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus took His disciples to the words of Moses and all the prophets to make them to know that He was the One spoken of by these heralds of the Truth. Incidentally, ‘all the prophets’ would necessarily include David’s Psalms. How sad it is to see these men of old ignored by our ‘modern churches,’ by our ‘modern’ theology. Just as much as the Jews of old, as well as of today, need the veil lifted from their eyes, so do many that sit in pews at ostensibly Christian churches in our land. Well may we say that on the road to Emmaus, the risen Christ preached the gospel of Moses and David to these two forlorn disciples. One well-esteemed commentator has written:

‘The writings of Moses and the words of Jesus are closely linked. It is assumed that they have similar authority; but they are linked in another way, such that to believe one is to believe the other, and to reject one is to reject the other. It could scarcely be otherwise, if, in the terms of the sermon on the mount, Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets (Mt. 5:17). The Jews failure to grasp what Moses and his writings were about is described as not believing what he wrote: i.e. this favorite term of the Evangelist includes more than mere credence, but right understanding and hearty obedience as well (cf. Luke 16:31).

The words, or writings, of Moses are intrinsically and indissolubly connected with the words, and writings of Jesus, or the Spirit of Christ. That is to say, that the Older Testament and the Newer Testament have been conjoined by God the Holy Spirit. So that they are no more two, but one…….What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder. We would gladly see an end of copies of the New Testament apart from the Old Testament. This was never meant to be.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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