39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 “I do not accept praise from men, 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 if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? (John 5:39-44 NIV)
The religious authorities of Jesus’ day were going crazy. Jesus was authentic–He was genuine. His words were like nothing the people had ever heard before. The religious leaders were losing their audience because all of the buzz was about Jesus. Jesus didn’t try to placate them. He didn’t try to win them over. He didn’t try to find common ground. Jesus had come to do His Father’s will and nothing, no one, would deter or distract Him.
We can learn quite a bit about the religious authorities Jesus was addressing just from reading these few verses. Jesus said, “I know you.” They diligently studied the Scriptures, but lacked the love of God. They were satisfied with receiving the praises of people. They made no effort to gain the praise of God by the way they lived their lives. These traits of the Jewish religious leaders are still with us today aren’t they?
I don’t want to be one of those followers of Jesus that can quote chapter and verse and yet possess a hard heart towards others. I don’t want to be one of those followers of Jesus that tries to impress others with my knowledge of God’s Word, but is unimpressive in the areas of grace and mercy. I don’t want to crave the praises of people. No, I want to be so focused on living a life that pleases God that I am oblivious to the opinions, praises, or appraisals of people. The difference between Jesus and the religious folks of His day is that Jesus lived, spoke, and breathed for an audience of One while the religious folks lived for the masses.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will sensitize me when I get off track and begin to take pride in religious activities rather than living to grow in my relationship with You.