The Witness of Scripture

The Scriptures they claimed to know, they didn't know at all.

The Gospel of John: John 5.31-47

Read and meditate on John 5.39, 40.

Jesus makes the boldest statement yet concerning His deity, as He explains that the whole of divine revelation is about Him.

     39You search the Scriptures, for you thought
in them eternal life for you might be;
and these are they which testify of Me.
40But you remain unwilling to believe
in Me, and thus do not true life receive.

- John 5.39, 40

Reflect
1.  The religious leaders of Jesus’ day searched the Scriptures and came up with exhausting lists of things to do and not to do, which they encoded in traditions. What’s wrong with that? What were they thinking about how best to gain eternal life? Complete this prayer: Lord, don’t let me miss the central teaching of Your Word. Help me always to…

2.  Jesus is not condemning searching the Scriptures. What is He condemning? How can we guard ourselves against falling into that trap? You are the theme of the Word, O Lord Jesus, for You are the very Word of God. As I read and study, help me to know You better. That is, help me…

3.  Is Jesus right? Do all the Scriptures testify of Him? Suppose you were challenged to show one example each in the Law of Moses, the histories, the sacred writings, and the prophets that speaks about Jesus. What would you cite? Show Yourself to me, Lord, in all Your Word! As I read and study my Bible each day…

4.  Of course, if people just don’t want to see Jesus in the Scriptures, then they won’t. They’ll see what they want, and miss Jesus. And what else will they miss (v. 40)? Why does this make it so important that we use the Word of God in our witness for Jesus? Help me to prepare each day, O Lord, to carry out my witness for You. Give me Scripture to use when…

5.  We can only imagine the astonishment with which the religious leaders must have received these words from Jesus. Imagine me saying, “You’ve read all the plays and poetry of Shakespeare, and I tell you, it’s all about me.” Jesus’ claim goes far beyond that. What would His claim say about the use they had been making of Scripture? Do we just sometimes need to tell people they’re wrong? Explain. Bring together into one your prayers from questions 1-4.

Summary
“He tells them not to simply ‘read the Scriptures’ but ‘search the Scriptures.’ … These sayings were not on the surface or out in the open but were hidden very deep like some treasure. Anyone who searches for hidden things, unless they are careful and diligent, will never find the object of their search. This is why he says …, ‘For in them you think you have eternal life,’ meaning that they did not reap much fruit from the Scriptures, thinking, as they did, that they should be saved by the mere reading of them, without faith.… And so, it was with good reason that he said ‘you think,’ because they did not actually listen to what the Scripture had to say but merely prided themselves on the bare reading.” John Chrysostom (344-407AD)

Read your Bible. Study and meditate on it thoroughly. Wait before the text of Scripture until Jesus begins to emerge from wherever you’re reading. Then you’ll be ready to think about how to apply Him to your life. Is this what Paul has in mind when he says we should “learn” Jesus (Eph. 4.17-24)? Explain.

Closing Prayer
The fool hath said in his heart,
There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works,
there is none that doeth good.
The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men,
to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy:
there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge?
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and call not upon the LORD.
There were they in great fear:
for God is in the generation of the righteous.

Psalm 14.1-5

Psalm 14.4, 5 (St. Anne: O God, Our Help in Ages Past)
None understands, none seeks the Lord; they all have turned aside.
Deception leads them from God’s Word who have His grace denied.

The workers of iniquity consume God’s sheep like bread;
They trust not in the Lord, and He shall fill their hearts with dread.
           
T. M. Moore

Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you gain a better overall understanding of the focus, themes, narrative, flow, and application of God’s Word. Study at your own pace in this free, online course. For more information or to register, click here.

We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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