The Lord Jesus expressed his love for people in a variety of ways in the gospels. His love was not only displayed in his forgiveness, spending time with people, and miracles, it was also displayed in his frankness by telling people what they needed to hear about themselves. He definitely was not one to try to flatter people into following him. Getting them to embrace God’s reality and truth was far more important.
Toward the end of John 5, he was rather blunt with the Jewish leaders when he exposed one aspect of what they based their religion on. For all their outward religious talk and practices, they really had no clue about who God really was and, therefore, could not recognize who Jesus really was. Here’s how Jesus bluntly broke it down to them:
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
41 I receive not honour from men.
42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.
43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.
44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
These religious leaders only pretended to know what the scriptures really said. But there was something standing in their way of genuinely knowing and understanding scripture and knowing and understanding God and his son. They were too concerned with the honor, or glory, of humans and not the honor of God that springs from having love for God and the love of God. The love of God was not in them at all.
Because of that lack of love for God which led to a lack of love for his written word, they rejected his living word, the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of embracing God’s true heavenly representative on Earth, the Lord Jesus, they wanted a false messiah who would come in his own name. It was not suitable to them to have someone with a testimony of heavenly things. They would only accept someone who was into receiving flatteries from humans, who would exalt the ideas of men, compromise with the ways of the world, promote their carnal agenda, and avoid anything that would oppose their ambitions of exalting each other to further their selfish gains. Their obsession with idolizing the glory of men made them callous toward seeking the honor that comes from God only.
Sadly, in the same way that these religious leaders and their followers anticipated a false messiah based on their misinterpretations of scripture, many religious leaders and their followers in so-called “Christian” circles today have conjured up false narratives about Jesus. Their false Christ, who winks at their sins and allows them to hang onto their sins because he “loves” them, was conjured up because of the same notions that the people in Christ’s day fell into. Everything that Christ said in the passage quoted above can be applied to them today. Since our Heavenly Father has called us to rise above that earthly mentality, thank God we don’t have to accept those humanistic false doctrines. God places in us the desire and ability (i.e., the grace) to reject the honor of men in order to focus on honoring God to experience the ultimate fulfillment that will last us for eternity even if we face temporary persecutions in this life.