“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope.46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” – John 5:30-48
When we seek to receive glory from one another rather than from God, we voluntarily blind ourselves from seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, thus cutting ourselves off from the benefits of the faith-producing word of God.
I believe that a desire of all followers of Jesus Christ is to have a truly vital and robust faith; to be able to live a life of vibrant expectancy that God is at work in our lives every day, the expectancy that my prayers are being answered, that God is acting in my world and on my behalf, not just academically as in Providence, but actually, as in I see God changing things in my life, and in the lives of those around me.
This passage teaches us a fundamental principle that has huge ramifications for the vibrancy of our faith. From whom do we seek glory?
There is one difference between the players in this story and the circumstance of we followers of Jesus. He is speaking to the Jewish leaders when he says, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” These folks were Jews, but they weren’t sons of Abraham by faith. They did not have circumcised hearts. Jesus referred to having a circumcised heart as being born again. We also refer to it as being regenerated, made alive in Christ. Every follower of Jesus has a circumcised heart. We who are followers of Jesus are not in the same boat as the Jewish leaders Jesus was addressing here. They were seeking glory from one another and could therefore not believe the good news Jesus was bringing to them.
With that caveat, I believe the same principle applies to we Jesus followers. From whom do we seek glory? If we live our lives seeking glory from our fellow man rather than from God — even though we have been born again — we short-circuit an active, vibrant, robust faith.
All the Scriptures (at this point, the Old Testament) point to Jesus. Here Jesus taught a finely nuanced point about the Scriptures. These leaders were scholars, they knew the Scriptures, but they missed the point of the Scriptures. They had the perspective that if they obeyed the Scriptures, they would have eternal life. Jesus said, “No, you are missing the point. The Scriptures testify of me. I am the source of eternal life.” This is a finely nuanced point because we find Christ in all of Scripture, we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures. The Scriptures are of extreme value, but they don’t give eternal life, Jesus does. They do, however, feed faith (So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17), but the object of faith is the God of the Scriptures, not the Scriptures themselves. This does not diminish the absolute inerrancy of the Scriptures in the original writings.
Robust faith then flows from a heart that seeks its glory only from God who is revealed in the Scriptures. Robust faith finds its object, not in the Scriptures, but in the God of the Scriptures. We are to love the Word of God, we are to trust the promises of God given in Scripture, but we are not to confuse the Scriptures with God himself. The covenant isn’t God; the covenant reveals the character of our God.
When we seek to receive glory from one another rather than from God, we voluntarily blind ourselves from seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures, thus cutting ourselves off from the benefits of the faith-producing word of God. Yes, we will still have saving faith, but we will miss out on its vibrancy, its vitality, its robustness; the joy and elation that comes from receiving glory from God alone.
Are there parts of your life in which receiving glory from men (Okay, or women) is more important to you than receiving glory from God? Yup that means it’s time for some repentance.
Father, help us in our weakness to seek glory from you alone. Help us to find our greatest pleasure in you alone. Help us to delight ourselves in you alone, to know joy unspeakable and full of glory.
I would appreciate your feedback on these thought in the comments section below.