John 5:40
(40) And ye will not come to me.--The real hindrance is once more traced to the will. (See Note on John 3:9.) It is moral, not intellectual. The result of a true willingness to know the truth is certain, not problematic. "Ye search because ye think ye have: if ye were willing to come, ye should really have."

The lesson is wide in its bearing. The Rabbinic spirit is not confined to Rabbis, nor is the merely literal study of the Scriptures limited to those of Judaea. Dictionaries, and grammars, and commentaries, are tools; but the precious ore is in the mine, and is to be extracted by every man for himself. He who wisely uses the best means will know most of God and His truth; but this knowledge no man can purchase, and the essentials of it none need lack. It is to be learned in the closet, rather than in the library; in action and trust, rather than in scholarship and thought. Religion is not philosophy, and the world by knowledge has never known God. For every humble heart that willeth to be a scholar, God Himself willeth to be the Teacher.

Verse 40. - And ye will not come to me, that ye may have life. This fearful conclusion of the whole matter is charged upon the responsibility of man. Doubtless, elsewhere, the will is described as itself made willing by the Divine attraction, by the grace of the Father. "He that hath seen and heard of the Father [seen, i.e. his shape and heard his voice - seen his shape and heard his voice in my ministry and manifestation], cometh unto me." Yet the grace of God working directly on character or indirectly by other revelations, never obliterates the sense of responsibility. The appeal of God is made to the will of man, whether we consciously or unconsciously are made "willing in the day of his power" (cf. John 7:17; John 6:44, 67; John 8:44). The sad tone of this solemn charge corresponds with and does much to explain the pathetic cry, "O Jerusalem... how often would I have gathered thy children... and ye would not!" while the entire passage suggests that this appeal was only one specimen out of many such discourses, one hint of the numerous sayings and self-manifestations, one of many accumulated proofs of his Divine commission, out of which the belief of the evangelists and the invincible assent of the Church arose, that he was indeed "the Word made flesh," "the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

5:39-44 The Jews considered that eternal life was revealed to them in their Scriptures, and that they had it, because they had the word of God in their hands. Jesus urged them to search those Scriptures with more diligence and attention. Ye do search the Scriptures, and ye do well to do so. They did indeed search the Scriptures, but it was with a view to their own glory. It is possible for men to be very studious in the letter of the Scriptures, yet to be strangers to its power. Or, Search the Scriptures, and so it was spoken to them in the nature of an appeal. Ye profess to receive and believe the Scripture, let that be the judge. It is spoken to us as advising or commanding all Christians to search the Scriptures. Not only read them, and hear them, but search them; which denotes diligence in examining and studying them. We must search the Scriptures for heaven as our great end; For in them ye think ye have eternal life. We must search the Scriptures for Christ, as the new and living Way, that leads to this end. To this testimony Christ adds reproofs of their unbelief and wickedness; their neglect of him and his doctrine. Also he reproves their want of the love of God. But there is life with Jesus Christ for poor souls. Many who make a great profession of religion, yet show they want the love of God, by their neglect of Christ and contempt of his commandments. It is the love of God in us, the love that is a living, active principle in the heart, which God will accept. They slighted and undervalued Christ, because they admired and overvalued themselves. How can those believe, who make the praise and applause of men their idol! When Christ and his followers are men wondered at, how can those believe, the utmost of whose ambition is to make a fair show in the flesh!And ye will not come to me,.... Which is to be understood, not of a corporeal coming to him; for many of the Jews did come to him in this sense; some for one thing, and some for another; some for the loaves, that they might eat and be filled; some to see his miracles, and others to partake of the benefit of them; some to hear him preach, and others to catch and cavil at what they could: nor is bare coming to hear Christ preached, or an outward attendance on, and submission to his ordinances, such a coming to him as is here designed; for with these eternal life is not connected: bodily exercise profiteth not in this way; but a spiritual coming to Christ, or a coming to him by faith is here meant; in which sense the phrase is frequently used in this Gospel, especially in the next chapter; see John 6:35; and those who come aright to Christ, come to him as the alone, able, suitable, and sufficient Saviour; and in themselves as sinners, and ready to perish; and as such they are received by him with a welcome: but these men did not see themselves as such; nor did they see any need they had of coming to Christ; for they thought they had eternal life elsewhere: and such were their ignorance of themselves and Christ; and such their prejudices against him; and such the depravity, perverseness, and stubbornness of their wills, that they had no inclination, desire, and will to come to Christ, any more than power; which is an argument against, and not for the free will of man, unless it be to that which is evil: and this perverseness of their wills to come to Christ, when revealed in the external ministry of the word, was blameworthy in them, since this was not owing to any decree of God, but to the corruption and vitiosity of nature; which being blameworthy in them, that which follows upon it must be so too; and it was the greater aggravation of their sin, that they had the Scriptures which testified of Christ, and pointed at him as the way of life, and yet would not come to him for it:

that ye might have life; that is, eternal life, as is expressed in the foregoing verse, and is so read here in Beza's old copy, in the Syriac, Arabic, and Persic versions. This is in Christ, not only the purpose and promise of it, but that itself: he has the disposal of it, gives the right unto it, and a meetness for it, with all the comforts arising from it, and all the promises and blessings relating to it; and all that come to Christ by faith may, and shall have it: this is the will of the Father, the end of his giving of Christ, and of his mission and coming into the world, and is inseparably connected with believing in him.

John 5:39
Top of Page
Top of Page