Read: John 5:30-47
Have you ever done a good deed and then felt the barbed grip of pride start to lay hold of it, claiming it for its own? You begin to look at yourself thinking, “Wow, I must be a really good person, look at what I just did!” You finish your time alone with God in the morning with a perverse sense of accomplishment thinking, “Look at me, I began my day with God, he must be really proud of me, now I have to Instagram this moment, so everyone knows that I am really following God.”
In this passage, this is what Jesus is calling out the Jews for doing. He says that they do not study the Scriptures to gain an understanding of God or to know Him better, but rather to gain prestige from their fellow Jews. They do good deeds to be seen in the marketplaces as a good person. Jesus says that it is for this reason they do not recognize Him as the Messiah. They do not search the scriptures to learn, but to gain recognition amongst their fellow Jews. Jesus says that if they actually knew the Scriptures, they would have recognized Christ because “it is they that bear witness about me” (v. 39).
In this passage, Jesus claims there are four bearers of His witness besides Himself: John, whom the people acknowledge as a prophet from God, Christ’s works, God the Father, and the Scriptures. Though the leading Jews of the time, choose to ignore the first two, they claim to be experts in the last two, especially in the Scriptures. However, Jesus says that the fact that they do not recognize Him is proof they do not read the Scriptures seeking after God, but rather to seek after their own glory. This misplacement of priorities blinds them to the true gospel. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (v. 44).
How often do we read the Bible, go to church, give to the homeless, or do good works, simply because of how it makes us feel or how it looks to others? The more we do this, the blinder we become to the truth of the gospel. We stop seeing the Scriptures as to how they pertain to us, but rather how they challenge others. We become focused on gaining glory from man, rather than falling on our faces before our God and Savior and accepting the everlasting life He promises to those who believe in Him.
Meditate today on verse 44. Do you seek the glory that comes from God or are you blinded by the glory that comes from man? If you are convicted of the latter, confess your pride to God. Ask him to give you clean hands and a pure heart and ask for His strength to seek only that which comes from Him.