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Judged by Moses & the LAW
45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (KJV)
The last witness here called is Moses, v. 45, etc. The Jews had a great veneration for Moses, and valued themselves upon their being the disciples of Moses, and pretended to adhere to Moses, in their opposition to Christ; but Christ here shows them,
(1.) That Moses was a witness against the unbelieving Jews, and accused them to the Father: There is one that accuses you, even Moses. This may be understood either, [1.] As showing the difference between the law and the gospel. Moses, that is, the law, accuses you, for by the law is the knowledge of sin; it condemns you, it is to those that trust to it a ministration of death and condemnation. But it is not the design of Christ’s gospel to accuse us: Think not that I will accuse you. Christ did not come into the world as a Momus, to find fault and pick quarrels with everybody, or as a spy upon the actions of men, or a promoter, to fish for crimes; no, he came to be an advocate, not an accuser; to reconcile God and man, and not to set them more at variance. What fools were they then that adhered to Moses against Christ, and desired to be under the law! Gal. 4:21. Or, [2.] As showing the manifest unreasonableness of their infidelity: "Think not that I will appeal from your bar to God’s and challenge you to answer there for what you do against me, as injured innocency usually does; no, I do not need; you are already accused, and cast, in the court of heaven; Moses himself says enough to convict you of, and condemn you for, your unbelief.’’ Let them not mistake concerning Christ; though he was a prophet, he did not improve his interest in heaven against those that persecuted him, did not, as Elias, make intercession against Israel (Rom. 6:2), nor as Jeremiah desire to see God’s vengeance on them. Nor let them mistake concerning Moses, as if he would stand by them in rejecting Christ; no, There is one that accuses you, even Moses in whom you trust. Note, First, External privileges and advantages are commonly the vain confidence of those who reject Christ and his grace. The Jews trusted in Moses, and thought their having his laws and ordinances would save them. Secondly, Those that confide in their privileges, and do not improve them, will find not only that their confidence is disappointed, but that those very privileges will be witnesses against them.
(2.) That Moses was a witness for Christ and to his doctrine (v. 46, 47): He wrote of me. Moses did particularly prophesy of Christ, as the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham, the Shiloh, the great Prophet; the ceremonies of the law of Moses were figures of him that was to come. The Jews made Moses the patron of their opposition to Christ; but Christ here shows them their error, that Moses was so far from writing against Christ that he wrote for him, and of him. But, [1.] Christ here charges it on the Jews that they did not believe Moses. He had said (v. 45) that they trusted in Moses, and yet here he undertakes to make out that they did not believe Moses; they trusted to his name, but they did not receive his doctrine in its true sense and meaning; they did not rightly understand, nor give credit to, what there was in the writings of Moses concerning the Messiah. [2.] He proves this charge from their disbelief of him: Had you believed Moses, you would have believed me. Note, First, The surest trial of faith is by the effects it produces. Many say that they believe whose actions give their words the lie; for had they believed the scriptures they would have done otherwise than they did. Secondly, Those who rightly believe one part of scripture will receive every part. The prophecies of the old Testament were so fully accomplished in Christ that those who rejected Christ did in effect deny those prophecies, and set them aside. [3.] From their disbelief of Moses he infers that it was not strange that they rejected him: If you believe not his writings, how shall you believe my words? How can it be thought that you should? First, "If you do not believe sacred writings, those oracles which are in black and white, which is the most certain way of conveyance, how shall you believe my words, words being usually less regarded?’’ Secondly, "If you do not believe Moses, for whom you have such a profound veneration, how is it likely that you should believe me, whom you look upon with so much contempt?’’ See Ex. 6:12. Thirdly, "If you believe not what Moses spoke and wrote of me, which is a strong and cogent testimony for me, how shall you believe me and my mission?’’ If we admit not the premises, how shall we admit the conclusion? The truth of the Christian religion, it being a matter purely of divine revelation, depends upon the divine authority of the scripture; if therefore we believe not the divine inspiration of those writings, how shall be receive the doctrine of Christ?
Thus ends Christ’s plea for himself, in answer to the charge exhibited against him. What effect it had we know not; it would seem to have had this, their mouths were stopped for the present, and they could not for shame but drop the prosecution, and yet their hearts were hardened.
Henry, M. (1996, c1991). Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Jn 5:31). Peabody: Hendrickson.