Who is your Moses? John 5: 45-47

Who is your Moses?

45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Just like every message, my hope is that the title of this has stirred just a little bit of curiosity in you to discover what the world I’m talking about.  If so, that’s good.  If not, well you know that I care enough to try and get you to hear what I am about to teach because I believe it is that important.

Let me recap just a little in case you joined us a little late. Jesus is spending a little one on group time with the leaders who honestly wanted him dead.  This is one of they way people deal with things that annoy them, they get rid of them.  I believed Jesus threatened their elevated position in life by destroying the very foundation of what they held tightly to.  Rather than investigate if what he was teaching was correct, they attacked the messenger and in this case, the messenger was God in the flesh. Jesus was accusing them on the basis of several witnesses, some of which were discussed in previous messages which can be found on the church website.  I’ll include the site in the email.  Now, Jesus is about to declare something that will rock them to their core.

Jesus declares: 45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. I wonder how much this must have incensed this crowd.  What was meant by the statement that they had fixed their hope on Moses?  To fix your hope on someone is to depend upon pleasing them in order to get into heaven.  They believed that if they could satisfy Moses’ requirements then they would enter glory.  To them, Moses had set the bar for the entry requirements to enter heaven.  They saw the 10 commandments as the path to heaven.

They expected that Moses would stand at the side of God and defend them as followers but Jesus declares that the very person they had fixed their hope on will stand as their accuser.  That Moses would turn from being the object of their hope to their accuser.   Can you imagine you were involved in a serious accusation, standing before a judge and you call in your best friend for life and he or she gets in the witness stand and turns against you?  What would that feel like?  How could it happen that the person who they believed would defend them would turn into an accuser?  Because the very standards they had professed to follow are the ones they could not follow.  You see, they choose the commandments of Moses to define holiness and then failed to reach the mark they had set.  They could not follow the standards they had set in order to enter heaven.  Truth is, no ordinary human was meant to but they couldn’t see that.

By the way, Romans 2:1-3 tells us that even non-believers have a Law which they attempt to adhere to and fail to follow.  You might say, they don’t appear to have a law. They do when they condemn others but then break that very law themselves. The fact that setting standards for others accuses us brings me to a very logical question and the title of my lesson.  Who is my Moses?

Who sets my standard?  Who determines my bar, who writes my Law?  If you are like most people, it is most likely one or several of the following.

  1. You set your own bar –
  2. Your people – your parents, your gang, your family
  3. Society – you live by the expected rules

It is not so important who sets your standard but what we hold to be true if we keep to the standard that has been set.  The point of Jesus in this passage is that the very standards that we attempt to keep will stand in judgment before a holy God.

There is no hope of entering heaven by any standard we attempt to live by with human strength because we are constantly breaking our own standards.  If you don’t mind the example, take a diet.  Imagine that you believed that you would make it into heaven if you never ate any meat, and then one day you discovered that you had been served beef broth instead of vegetable broth.  There seems to be always things that begin to cross any line.  This is what Jesus did when he took the commandment Do Not Murder and went further to say that if we have anger towards another we are guilty.  And if we are disgusted with someone enough to call them a fool, we are guilty enough to go to hell.

Have you ever heard the expression that there is honor among thieves?   If you believe that thieves never steal from thieves – then you probably don’t know many thieves.  Some people, when trying to determine if they would go to heaven or to hell, state they have never robbed a bank.  But should that bank make an error in their favor for a small or large amount, they wouldn’t mention it.  And why do you think they attach all the pens in the bank to a small chain?  Because people do steal from banks.  My point is that not only can we not live up to God’s 10 commandments; we can’t live up to our own list of rights and wrongs.  Even those who don’t have God’s commandments will condemned by the very things that they accuse others of doing.  You don’t have to know the 10 commandments to have failed to live according to what you believe to be right and wrong.

When Moses wrote down the commandments, he gave God’s list of perfect obedience.  This was given not to show us how to earn redemption but to show us what our Redeemer would be.  That is the point of the next phrase as Jesus continues.

Moses was writing the standard that the coming Messiah would have to follow in order to be confirmed that He was the Messiah.  If the Law was the path to fellowship with God, how could Noah be called “righteous?”  He didn’t even have the Law. How could Job be called righteous?  Abraham or Jacob.  They all lived before the Law was known and yet God showed them that salvation comes by faith, not by works.  You don’t need the law to know that you are breaking your own standards or your own law.  Did these patriarchs believe in Moses?  Of course not, they didn’t even know his name.

These people, who remember hated Jesus with a passion, believed that Moses had set out the rules for being saved but Moses wrote about the Savior and what His life would be like.  That is what Jesus means when He says that Moses wrote about Me.  Now, does that negate the commandments?  Of course not – it just puts them in the proper place and shows that they are the guidelines for Holy living but they are not rules for redemption.  Salvation is by faith alone.

And Christ asks one more question that presumes a guilt upon his hearers.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”  He makes a statement about their lives by beginning with the statement, if or since you do not believe the writings of Moses.  This is more declarative than a question to them.  They refused to understand because they had invested too much on the path towards faith by works that they refused to consider reconsidering.  This might be a character trait of men – usually we don’t care if we are hopelessly lost.  We seem to have the mentality that if we are determined, we will get there eventually.  That might be true when you are looking for an address, but nothing could be more wrong about getting to heaven.  We might even look like we are being obedient to the point that we are doing things for God, but if we believe we are earning our way into heaven, we will be like those poor misguided hearts that stood in judgment and thought that doing things for God would get them into heaven.  Lord, didn’t we cast out demons, and do great works for you?  I never knew you was God’s response to these because they never believed in righteousness by faith.  They never suspected all the diligence in the world will not open heaven’s doors.  No man will be saved based on what he did, unless what he did was believe God for his righteousness.  All our works are as filthy rags.

Christ’s point is simple, if you wouldn’t listen to the one that you admire the most – and for the Jews, it was Moses – then why would you listen to the Messiah when He came with the same message?

So who is your inner voice – who is your Moses?  What are the standards we are using to attempt to make us pleasing to God?  How sad it is when a child works so very hard to attempt to earn the love of a parent who loves them unconditionally?  Even in our Christian life, we have a measure of this that creeps in.  We like to think that we have to continue to earn God’s favor.  I don’t see that in the bible.  Now please, don’t believe I think that Christians can live like the world without some kind of discipline happening.  When we are disobedient to God, we bear the strain of that in many ways because God is teaching us obedience through many different tools.  But you can not lose God’s love.  You can not lose something you never earned, your salvation.  You can not earn redemption by your own good works and obedience when God has made provision to give it to you.  And the same is true with our daily fellowship with God.  Your fellowship with God is built upon what Christ did on the cross, not what you did do or didn’t do last week.

May we understand our complete and total dependence on Christ for all things.  Live right but understand why you live right – to give glory to God and not to earn a gift that is already yours.