Short Meditations in John 5: 42. Loveless
Jn 5:42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.
Hold on to the conclusion at which we arrived in the previous study, that Jesus is not trying to win a popularity contest, trying to get people to like him and is refusing to let us think he wants people to praise him, but the truth is that he is showing in stark relief the hardheartedness of these people before him, a hardheartedness that will eventually drive them to have him put to death, thus fulfilling the will of God for His Son to be a sacrifice for our sins: “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (Acts 2:23)
So that is what this conversation is all about and is why John is recording it. Yes, indirectly we will consider the greatness of Jesus but that is not what the thrust of this passage is about; it is all about the listeners, these people who have been challenging Jesus. We need to realise this, that whenever there is dispute about Jesus, it is the disputers who are being judged by their words and attitudes, not Jesus. It may take eternity for some to realise this but Jesus doesn’t need defending; he just is the Son of God, so one day they will realise that, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:10,11)
In the earlier verses there was a lot about testimony (v.31-37) but then challenges: i) nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. (v.38) and ii) you refuse to come to me to have life (v.40), and so now iii) he adds, you do not have the love of God in your hearts.
Disbelief and refusal to respond to Jesus were their first two failures but now the reason for that is exposed – they have no love for God! Wow! Yes it does say the ‘love of God’ but that may clearly, in the present context, be taken to mean, ‘the love for God’ as well as the ‘love of God’ for if they had love for God and God’s love in their hearts, then they would have accepted Jesus straight away; this conversation would not have occurred.
It had all started when Jesus healed the invalid at the pool (v.1-15) which raised their legalistic and hard-hearted ire and the challenge to Jesus’ authority (v.16-23). This opened up on Jesus’ ministry (v.24-30) and then the talk on testimony. If these Jews loved God and had His love in their hearts, none of this would have happened. For us, the question must be is God’s love or my love for God predominant?