John 5:31-47 (NRSVCE)
Testimony is the central focus of this passage. John testifies that Jesus is the Messiah, the works of Jesus testify on behalf of the Father that Jesus is the Messiah. The Father directly testifies that Jesus is the Son of God, when he says “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Scripture testifies to Jesus. Even Moses testified to Jesus. “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” Yet despite all of this testimony, Jesus is still rejected. And why? Because man seeks glory in himself, not in God. Jesus says that the reason he is rejected is because “the Jews” do not have the love of God in them (scare quotes because John’s Gospel has a very particular emphasis on “the Jews” and their opposition to Jesus). They have never heard Him, never seen Him, and they do not have His word abiding in them. They love man above all, which is why they accept a man who comes in his own name, but not a man who comes in the name of God. They seek glory from each other, and for themselves, rather than turning to God.
The contrast here is Jesus. “I do not accept glory from human beings.” Jesus seeks glory only from God—that is, it is only God’s approval that matters, not the approval of men. Is this our attitude? Are we really concerned with pleasing God, or are we more concerned with the approval of men? By the way, don’t forget to Like, Share, Subscribe, and Retweet this post! That’s the attitude we have now, and Jesus shows us that it’s an attitude which has always been with man, even from the very beginning! Think of the first sin, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the garden. They did that because they wanted to be the masters of knowledge, they wanted to be like God. They sought glory for themselves, they sought approval only from each other, and in so doing they rejected God. And now here we are, many thousands of years later, showing the same defiance to the will of God. This defiance testifies to the state of our condition—it testifies to our need for healing, for repentance, and for a savior.
That is what Jesus has come to do. He comes in the name of the Father to expose sin for what it is, to bring us to repentance, to heal us, and to ultimately save us from eternal death. He comes to give life, but that life comes with a condition. We must love God above all, with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind. For if we love the Father, we will love the Son whom He sent, and no longer will we seek glory from each other. We will look to God as the source of all glory, and in so doing we will be saved.