Picking up from our last text about Jesus healing the man on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders are not pleased. They aren’t interested in the miracle, they could care less what has happened for the man who was crippled for over thirty years, they only care that he carried his mat on the Sabbath. In this text, we will see that Jesus makes a defense that contains within it not only His message about the gift of God, but the message of who Jesus is. It will be followed by a proof of His claims, and is clearly the sort of thing that the leaders of the day would not put up with.
Jesus explains that God works on the Sabbath and so does He, for He does what the Father does. The Jewish leaders are quick to understand what He is telling them: He is on an equal footing with God. Quite naturally, their reaction is not one of rejoicing as it should have been; instead they are anxious to kill Him!
Jesus ups the ante so to speak by going a step further. Not only is He on an equal footing with the Father, but He will also raise from the dead those whom it pleases Him to raise. This is the “gift of God” that we came across when He was talking with the woman at the well in the previous chapter.
In 22-30, Jesus goes further still telling the leaders that He will be the One to judge all men and that those who dishonor the Son also dishonor God. In short, He was telling them that He and the Father were One. We must pause here to consider the fact that by making these statements, Jesus was in violation of the Law… that is of course unless He was God Himself. He goes on to further discuss God’s gift of eternal life for those who believe His Word, and with every sentence He digs His hole a little deeper in the eyes of those Jewish leaders who do not wish to hear such things. His boldness in speaking of the resurrection, a controversial topic among those very leaders, and its connection with Him personally must have driven them wild with fury and the lust for blood.
Continuing in 31-35, He begins to prove the things that He has just said, beginning with the testimony of John the Baptist. Reminding His hearers that they have heard John’s testimony about who He is, He also reminds them that they were, if not supporters of John, giving credence to him for a time. In fact, they had even asked John for his views on Jesus. Jesus tells them that He is pointing this out to them so that they might be saved, that is to say so that they might believe Him.
Jesus moves on to cite further testimony to His veracity: the Scriptures themselves. Notice that He points out to them that God’s Word does not reside within them, for they refuse to believe the One that God has sent. It is His contention that the Scriptures themselves testify about Him, and that they of all people should know that fact.
As He continues along this line of reasoning, Jesus adds that they would accept almost anybody who came speaking for themselves, and yet when He came speaking in God’s name as the One who had been foretold in the Scriptures, and whom they were expecting to come, they reject Him. His implication is that their rejection of Him comes from their own desire to receive praise from others, and yet they do so at the cost of receiving the only praise that is worth receiving; that praise being from God Himself.
Jesus wraps up His defense with an accusation of His own: They do not believe the Scriptures. He told them that Moses condemns them, not Jesus because it is the very Law of Moses that they make a mockery of when they go to such ridiculous lengths to appear to love, while at the same time, they carry with them only accusations and disdain for their people. They do not believe what Moses wrote, so they reject the One He wrote about: Ouch!