Hey everyone. My name is Josh Pollard and I am the Adult Ministries Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Today we will be wrapping up our study on John Chapter 5. The title of this particular study has been “Worthy”. One of our Church’s core values is that “We put God First.” But that assumes that we’ve already answered the question of if Jesus is worthy of such life devotion.
Is he worthy for us to follow or is he just a fairytale for sensitive people?
is he, as Karl Marx once called religion, “the Opium for the Masses.”
Just a well thought out and maybe well-intentioned worldview that coddles the minds of poor suffering people who live pointless lives so that we have some wispy thing called “hope” to look forward to that keeps us going for a while.
A more cynical person might just say is it all a lie that we choose to embrace because it makes us feel like the good guys?
How do you know that the way of Jesus is worthy of your life’s devotion? Is his claim to be God worthy of Trust?
Go ahead and open up your Bibles to John chapter 5 (page 727). Because it’s here that we see that the Jewish leaders, much like many people today, thought Jesus was definitely not worthy of any devotion. They thought he was a liar, they thought he was immoral, they thought he was evil.
And in today’s passage he’s going to speak directly to people who doubt him.
So, as we study today, I want you to consider your doubt. I think that at some level we all have our doubts. Some of us are totally in the space of doubting that Jesus is worth much of your time but for one reason or another you ended up here today, and other of us are at a place of believing more then we ever have before but there are waves of doubt that come and go in the life of a Christian. It’s never just a line that goes up and to the right of always believing more in God. So, if I’m honest I do sometimes have moments where I wonder if this is all made up and if I’ve been wasting my life on an unworthy idea. But then I get to passages like todays.
Let’s read. We’ll start in Verse 31 and I’ll interject along the way:
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.
Have you ever known someone that went fishing alone and allegedly caught a 9lb bass? In such a case they have employed a time-honored fishing technique called lying…probably.
So here Jesus is basically saying, I’ve told you clearly who I am, but you don’t believe me so, Look at all the evidence. Look at all these other testimonies. Look at what else supports his claim that He is God. He goes on…
32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true. 33 “You have sent to John [the Baptist] and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me.
So far, they have rejected Christ’s own testimony, the testimony of others who know Jesus, but now they must take into evidence all the things that they have seen Jesus do with their own eyes.
So far at this point in John’s Gospel
Jesus has turned water into wine…,
He has cleared the temple …
He healed an officer’s child from a great distance,
He spoke to the outcast woman at the well and knew her whole life story,
He’s Healed a paralyzed man who couldn’t walk and forgave his sins.
All the works that Jesus had done thus far had been acts of compassion and mercy for people in need,
and it was these acts of mercy that supposedly showed that God the Father had sent him.
And sure, the Jewish leaders expected signs from the Messiah but they expected them to be more focused on Judging the Romans and less focused on kindness for unimportant people.
The Jewish leaders do not know to look for a Savior who loves, and because of that he can say that they don’t know the Father, which is why He goes on in verse 37 to say:
37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study[c] the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Remember, Christianity is about so much more then Bible knowledge, it’s about coming to the whom the bible testifies about. It’s about life movement, “come!”, to a specific person, “Come to me!” not just knowing the right answers.
41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God[d]?
The key word in this section in the word “glory”. A good definition of the term Glory is “a display of something worth/value.” So, Jesus is saying that he isn’t seeking his worth or value from other people. He knows his worth.
But people that don’t believe in Jesus, despite the evidence, will readily believe what one another say is true and important.
We trust advertisers to tell us what we need, and News anchors to tell us what to be mad about, and mom blogs to tells us if we’re good parents. We let them tell us how to be valuable, instead of seeking our true value as God gives it to us.
In John 1:12 it says “those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” That is the glory that we need to seek after, that is how we realize our value, our worth.
Not by listening to every internet expert and advertisement, but by seeking out the glory of being God’s Child.
He goes on:
45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
So, to summarize, they reject Jesus’ own Testimony, John’s Testimony, the works the Jesus Had been doing, the testimony of the Father in the eyes, ears and hearts of those who love him, the testimony in the scriptures, and Moses. But why, in the face of all this support for Jesus’ Claim to be the Son of God do they not come to him to have life, to be saved?
The reason is found in Verses 40 and 42. They do not have the Love of God in their hearts, and so they just refuse.
They are too focused on getting glory from one another and they end up with a pitiful glory. A value in one another’s eyes that is pretty expendable.
Social media is a great modern example of this. People tweet and post to get a bunch of like and followers, as if that means something. They think that means they are valuable in other people’s eyes, but what do they do as soon as they tire of you? They unfollow, they delete. We used to play this game in college called Facebook roulette where one person would pick a letter and a number. Then you go your friends list, go to the names that start with that letter, count down the list to the number they said, and then you had to just delete them. Or you work for a company for years and years, thinking that you have worth because of your contribution, but when you don’t fit anymore, what do they do, they “right size” you, and you never talk to any of those people ever again. It happens even in families, you raise a child, give them everything they need, make sure they get to college so they can get married and have a family of their own, and what do they do? They move away with the grandkids.
Even the glory we get from those who love us the most is quite pitiful when it compares to being a child of God.
While friends and work and family are important, they lack the power to tell you who you really are and how valuable you really are. Only God can do that through Jesus, when we don’t refuse to come to him.
So, then the question becomes, how do I not refuse to come to him? Or instead, how do people come to believe that Jesus is worthy of trust?
Well, the first step in not rejecting the evidence is to first look at the evidence.
The Jewish Leaders of Jesus’ day had such a vast array of evidence that they refused to listen to (Jesus, John, The Works, The Scriptures, The Father, Moses) But when we turn the focus onto our modern day we run into a bit of an issue. For us, all of those sources are just one source for us – The testimony of the Scriptures.
But for some people saying the Jesus is God and you should devote your life to following him because the Bible says so, isn’t completely convincing. They may say that it is circular reasoning – The Bible is true because the Bible says it’s true… I can see the issue.
Well, when the Jewish Leaders wouldn’t believe Jesus own words, He had them look at other evidence that supported his words.
And while there is so much evidence for why we should trust Jesus, what I want to do right now is just tell you some of the reasons that strengthen my belief in Jesus, that he is a real living person, that he is who he claimed to be and why I’m trying to live my life like him.
Now, your reasoning for believing might be different then mine and that’s totally ok. I’m just one example. Perhaps my reasoning helps yours.
I won’t be able to break down each of my steps in reasoning today, but each could go into a ton more detail so maybe write some of this down.
Ok, so if someone were to ask my why I believe in Jesus I would have to say that for me it all starts with a belief in a God. Traditionally there are many philosophical arguments that are considered “Proofs of God”
but the one that I find most convincing is called the “First Cause” argument, or the “cosmological proof”, first developed philosophically by Aristotle and later theologically by Thomas Aquinas.
The main point of this is that everything has a cause and if you follow those causes all the way back then logically there must be one un-caused cause – something that just always was and has caused everything else. This “something” would be God.
Now we could stop there and we would have what’s called “Deism” which basically believes that some god created everything but then never got involved in it. But I think there is more evidence we must look at.
So, I believe there must be a god, but which God? For that, we must take into evidence the historical reliability of the New Testament. Is what we have today, what was actually written by the eyewitnesses? Or hasi it been corrupted over the years?
Archeologists have found pieces of scrolls with New Testament writing on it that was made within a few decades after the life of Jesus. And if you added together all of the ancient pieces of scripture that we can have from the first few centuries of Christianity there are over over 5000 of them in the original Greek.
When we study them, we ca see that the message of the Bible that we have now is virtually identical to what was written down in the first century.
If you include other ancient manuscripts of the New Testament that were in other languages then we’ve got over 24,000 items to study from very early in the life of the church.
The closest runner up in ancient manuscripts would be the Homer’s Iliad, which some have likened to a “Bible” of ancient Greek gods.
It was written around 800BC and
was set around 1200BC.
We only have about 1000 fragments of manuscripts.
And the earliest of those that we have is from the 2nd century AD.
That means for the second-place finisher there was a 400-year gap between when the events supposedly happened and it was first written down, and a 1000-year gap between when it was first written and the earliest copy we have found.
That’s the second best supported ancient document we have. And we assume it’s a pretty reliable representation of what Homer first wrote.
That’s makes the fact the New Testament has many thousands of manuscripts, some from within mere decades of when it was written, when eyewitnesses may have still been alive, such a strong argument for why the New Testament has been trustworthily passed down.
The New Testament is by far the most historically reliable collection of texts that we have as a world civilization.
So we know that what we have is a good representation of what the eyewitnesses first wrote down, what is what they wrote down a true or a bunch of nonsense?
Well for that we must acknowledge that the resurrection of Christ, as it has been reported by eyewitness in the Gospels is extremely well supported.
One of the many points that support this is the fact that 10 of the 11 disciples that were eye witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection were killed for their faith. Now, you might say “So what, plenty of people have died for that they believe in throughout history.” And that’s true, but the Disciples did not just believe that he resurrected, they knew it firsthand. And if it was not true then they would have knowingly died for a lie.
Plus, he had appeared to his disciples, other close followers, 500 other people, and even Saul, a radicle anti-Christian Jew who then became Jesus’ biggest proponent.
All of these hundreds of people could have been asked if the written accounts were fakes and put an end to the whole thing, but they didn’t and Christianity spread like wildfire across the whole known world.
So, if the eyewitness accounts of Jesus are reliable then what they talk about must have really happened. And God must have really raised him from the dead. God would not raise him from the dead and have him appears to all these people if he was saying all of these lies.
So, the historical reliability of the Resurrection, for me, shows God validating all of the claims of Jesus, including Jesus being the only way, Jesus being divine, and the God of Israel being the only God.
Thus, the most rational conclusion based on the historical evidence and eyewitness accounts is to believe that Jesus is Worthy of our trust.
Two resources that really helped me grow in this that every one should check out are the books The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. [put books up on the screen] Both have great audio books, both are even available at our local libraries, and I’ve read both several times. They are fantastic.
Now, what is important to realize is that these testimonies in and of themselves will not save anyone. Remember from our passage that the reason that they didn’t come to Jesus was not that they didn’t have enough knowledge, it was that they just refused to come to Him. Their hearts were not in love with God, instead their hearts were hard.
In fact, most of these arguments could easily be agreed to by people that do not follow Jesus in the least.
You don’t need any love for God at all.
You don’t have to be a Christian, just a good historian, just a good philosopher, just a good debater.
The best that these testimonies can do is begin to remove stumbling blocks, to begin to soften hearts.
Then at some point, with God’s help, they may stop refusing, and instead, come to him. It’s very simple, just come to him.
Testimonies that require faith
And when you come to him you get a whole new set of testimonies, ones that require faith to be of any value. This would include things like the
internal guidance of the Holy Spirit,
the testimony of how God is moving in the live of other believers,
the power of God to totally transform people.
You see, like verse 37-38 say, once you believe, you begin to see God at work in the world – you begin to hear his voice in your heart – and his Word, his truth, begins to dwell in you.
And what I’ve found is that these testimonies that require faith, that were once not convincing to the non-believer, become the most convincing of all.
You are no longer learning about Jesus but you are learning Jesus, getting to know him, beginning to follow his way.
The way of Life, the way of kindness and mercy for those in need, the way of seeking the glory that only God gives instead of the poor glory that comes from other people.
And if you are new to this whole Jesus thing, then that’s what you are invited into. His instruction was quite simple to those who didn’t believe in him yet, it was just come to me. Not fix up your life, not figure it all out, not be sure you know all the arguments first. No, it was just “Come to me.”
He does the rest. He takes your heart that had no love for God in it and rebuilds it.
He saw your sinful life and willingly died on the cross to make a way for you.
When you believe he gives you the right to become children of God, and like a good father, his love is powerful, and clear, and kind, and safe. You are invited to take a step into that love – to come to him. During our last song today, just go to him in prayer, in your heart.
If you want to do that for the first time today then after the service, I’m going to be over here with our follow up team and we’d love to hear what you are thinking, where are you at. Maybe you are ready to jump in, maybe just ready to look a little closer. Either way, come talk to us.
And for those of you that are already on that path, and can see God’s work in the world, you know his voice, his word lives in you,
this week I want you to tell someone why you believe. Maybe it’s a long story, maybe it’s short and simple. or maybe it brings up some questions that you need to start looking more into in order to strengthen your faith.
Maybe your reason for believing is more rooted in your experience with God, or maybe it’s more rooted in study and logic, ideally it would grow to be some of both of those things.
You see I told you some logical reasons that strengthen my confidence in my faith but my faith comes much more from my experience with God’s mercy and steadfast presence in my life.
The two sides help each other and everybody will have a different story.
Jesus is not an equation to just apply to people. He’s a living person, so your story of meeting with him will all yours at first.
But when you share it, it may very well become a part of their story as well. So collectively, the gospel is our story.
So, when you’re driving home in your car or this week in your house give a testimony. for some of you maybe try writing it all down in journal or even a letter.
Add your testimony to the tools that God maybe using to show Himself to people and to give them their true glory as His Children.
Copyright: Josh Pollard
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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