The Gospel of John: John 5.31-47
Read and meditate on John 5.41-44.
By now, it would have been clear that the people to whom Jesus was speaking were becoming upset (He was good at upsetting things, as we’ve seen). We can imagine the murmuring, the whispering, the scornful looks. There was no way these people were going to honor what He was saying. But that did not discourage Jesus.
41No honor do I have from men. 42But you
I know, and what I know is that you do
not have the love of God in you. 43I come
to you in God the Father’s Name, for from
Him I was sent, and you do not believe
in Me. But you another will receive,
who comes in his own name. 44But how can you
believe, when all the honor you want to
receive is that which comes from men, and not
that honor which can come to you from God?
- John 5.41-44
1. What did Jesus mean by “honor from men”? How do people seek such honor in our day? Complete this prayer: Lord, I want people to love You. But I can’t guarantee they’ll always love me. Help me to be careful always to…
2. Jesus says that seeking honor from men can be a hindrance to believing in Him (v. 44). Why is this so? Can you think of any ways this happens in local churches? Guard and protect me, Lord, from seeking honor from men. Let me always…
3. Jesus mentions those who come in their own name, seeking honor from others. He might have been referring to what today might be called a “personality cult.” We see such things even in the Christian movement, where people become enamored with a favorite speaker, preacher, or writer, and then insist he or she is the last word on just about everything. How can searching the Scriptures as Jesus recommends help us to avoid this pitfall? Lord, if I’m only ever seeking to find and know You, I won’t…
4. What is involved in seeking the honor that “comes only from God”? What is that honor? What can we do to seek it? How can we know if we have attained it? Lord, I want to bring honor and glory to You in all my ways. Honor my desire to honor You, Lord, by…
5. Jesus indicates there are only two kinds of people: those who seek honor from men, and those who seek the honor that comes from God. Is that too simplistic? How would you counsel a new believer always to make sure he was only ever seeking honor from God? Bring together your prayers from questions 1-4 into one prayer.
“He accuses the Pharisees of a love for power and of prizing honors from people. He is covertly hinting that it is exceedingly inadvisable to put the diseases of their own soul on God, who can by no means have anything to do with disease. He goes on to say that they, held fast by an empty kind of glory, thereby lose the fairest prize, meaning faith in him. Paul speaks clearly of this too when he says, ‘For if I were yet pleasing people, I should not be Christ’s servant.’ It is almost always necessarily the case that those who hunt for honors from people fail when it comes to the glory that comes from above and from the only God.” Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD)
We always need to be on guard against the tendency to want others to honor us – to acknowledge our sincere faith, be impressed by our good works, boast about our ministries, and so forth. To delight in such honors is a sure sign that unbelief is creeping into our lives. We cannot honor God, or be honored by Him, as long as we seek the honor of men. What might be some signs that we were beginning to drift in this direction?
The LORD reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The LORD is clothed,
He has girded Himself with strength.
Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved.
Your throne ise stablished from of old;
You aref rom everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
The floods have lifted up their voice;
The floods lift up their waves.
The LORD on high ismightier
Than the noise of many waters,
Than the mighty waves of the sea.
Your testimonies are very sure;
Holiness adorns Your house,
O LORD, forever.
Psalm 93 (Trinity: Come, Thou Almighty King)
The Lord in majesty reigns, girded and clothed in strength!
Earth stands secure: Nor shall it e’er be moved;
God on His throne above set it in place with love –
His reign is sure!
What, though the floods arise, raising their voice to the skies,
Strong though they be, God on His holy throne
Drowns out their fearsome drone, hasting to save His own,
Almighty God on high, Your Word can never lie!
Your truth is sure – holy and just are they
Who tread Your holy way; Yours shall they ever stay
T. M. Moore
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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.