Seeking Glory: John 5:16-47

Focus Passage: John 5:16-47 (NIV)

16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” 18 For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. 25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 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 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. 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 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.

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?

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?”

Read John 5:16-47 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

In one of Jesus’ replies to a challenge He received, He shared a statement that completely shifted my perspective on His character. While Jesus hints at this idea earlier while talking about John’s testimony, He clearly states it several verses later in a way that doesn’t leave any loopholes for misunderstanding His intent.

During His response, Jesus directly states, “I do not accept glory from human beings.” (v. 41)

However, He quickly follows this up by saying “But I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.” (v. 42)

If Jesus followed His “but I know you” statement with an exception, or with a group of people who truly gives Him glory, then we might think He shared an exception to the rule. But Jesus essentially follows up by saying that He especially doesn’t accept glory from those who don’t have God’s love in their hearts. A human being who believes in Him may give Him glory, but He doesn’t accept it. A human being who does not believe would be even less likely to give Him glory, and even in the rare case that they do, He still would not accept it.

The next two logical questions we could ask ourselves are, “Does Jesus ever accept glory from anyone/anything?”, and “Since Jesus doesn’t accept glory from human beings, where does the glory go that is directed His way?

To answer our questions, we can continue reading to learn a little more about what Jesus meant. Jesus continues by saying, “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. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (v. 43-44)

The response to our second question is easier to see. Since Jesus came in His Father’s name, any credit (i.e. glory) we try to give Him will be directed upwards toward the Father. Reading this shifted my thinking and prompted me to open my eyes to seeing miracles Jesus did where the gospel writers share that glory went to God the Father. In case you are wondering, there are many such examples. Giving the Father glory was one thing that motivated Jesus to help and heal people.

The response to our first question is trickier to see, but Jesus hints at it when He talks about how we should “seek the glory that comes from the only God”. (v. 44b)

While Jesus does not accept glory from us, He does accept glory from the Father, and He does allow the Holy Spirit to work through Him. In this way, Jesus sets an example for each of us – and it reveals His character. At the core of Jesus’ character is a 100% focus on God (the Father), and this God-focus can be a test we can use to determine whether someone is truly sent from God or not.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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