Short Meditations in John 5: 38. Absence of Truth
Jn 5:38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
I suspect that if there were verses we placed low down on our list for meditating upon, this would be one of them, but our goal is to ponder on every single verse of this chapter. The fact that the verse starts with ‘nor’ suggests it is a continuation verse, so let’s remind ourselves what went before it: You have never heard his voice nor seen his form. So Jesus is challenging his challengers over their experience and their knowledge. It’s all very well for them to criticise him, but they have lacks that they need to face.
They weren’t around when the Father spoke at Jesus’ baptism and they have little experience of encounter with the Father anyway. The implication may be that Jesus, of course, has. They certainly haven’t seen God face to face and again, the implication is that Jesus has.
But now Jesus moves on to put two things together which present a further challenge: “nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.” The first part of this verse says that they don’t have God’s word within them, and the second part goes on to challenge them and say that this is shown because they reject the one the Father has sent.
Of the paraphrase versions, the JBP version pouts it well: “Nor do you really believe his word in your hearts, for you refuse to believe the man who he has sent,” but the Living Bible puts it best: “And the Father himself has also testified about me, though not appearing to you personally, or speaking to you directly. But you are not listening to him, for you refuse to believe me—the one sent to you with God’s message.”
Now there the interesting link between the two things is displayed well, the absence of God’s word in their hearts, and their rejection of His Son. If they had been people who truly treasured God’s words in their hearts, that would mean they were truly people of God and if they had truly been people of God, they would have recognised His Son when he came with words of life and power than transformed.
It works the other way around as well. Those who receive and accept Jesus as he is, the Son of God, show that their hearts are open to God and therefore they will also have hearts that are open to His will and His word and they will treasure and uphold His word in their hearts.
If we say we are Christians, can we check ourselves out? We take on his name and so do we truly worship him or is he simply a name to attach our religion to? We say we believe in his word, but do we take time to study it, to learn it and understand it, and what is God’s will?