‘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 5:44 (NIV)
The Saviour throws a heavy shot. He puts men on the spot. We have a choice. We could say He is talking to someone else. We could say He meant those words for other people long ago. But will our hearts allow this dark little trick? Will our conscious permit us to give in to it? Do we prefer to protect ourselves and defer the blame? Or can we admit to ourselves where the words of Jesus cut right past our disguise? Do they expose our inner secrets? Do they bring out into the Light what we would hide even from ourselves?
Jesus asks us how on earth we can say we believe, when we are looking to each other instead of to God. It is a contradiction of terms! On one hand we are looking one Way. On the other hand we look to people like ourselves for confirmation, reassurance and approval. In the case of the Pharisees, they studied the Scriptures written by Moses and the prophets. They built up their hearts religion off of deciphering and tradition. They patted themselves on the back for their hard work and fine intelligence. They gained strength from the approval of those who thought like them.
In sharp contrast Jesus points out that there is a different Path altogether. He demonstrates that we can look to God. Our Father in Heaven is big enough to supply more than enough confirmation in Him. But He will do this only to those who would step out of the norm. He will give confirmation. He will provide comfort. He will approve only those who will truly turn to Him for those things. God will be God for those who look to Him! But is this what we do? Is it just an ideal that we hold? Is it something we just wish after?
Christ came pointing us directly to God. The only middle-man needed was the One sent to make our return possible. The only crutch we need is the One Who sacrificed His Own life for ours. The only person who we could truly turn to besides God Himself Is His very Own Son! He sent Him to save us. This Man is not just a Man! This Man Jesus knows God because He is sent from Him. But what is of most importance, Jesus looks not for our praise, but that of God the Father! Is that the most worthy of all possible goals? Is that what we should seek too?
If we seek the approval of our peers, then who are we honoring? If we look for confirmation from those around us, then who do we serve? If we find our reassurance among men, then how can we say we believe? Who are we looking to now? Who do we believe in today?
Dear Jesus, we would not let Your instruction be lost on only a few people a long time ago. We would let Your words touch us now! Let us hear them again! Impress them upon our hearts! Let them bring showers of blessings and mountains of good healing! Let them bring us in all conscious awareness before the Lord our God! Let Your teaching place us in His very Presence. Bring us to Him today! We reject anything less from our faith than to truly and actively seek to hear God Himself giving His approval of our attempt to draw near to Him! Do not let us settle for hearing the praise, confirmation, or approval from each other! But make our first and most desperate need to obtain praise directly from God!