|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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!
Verses 41-47. -
(d) The effect of the revelation of the Son upon the Jews. Verses 41, 42. - This appeal to the will of man was apparently entirely misunderstood, and ended for the time in failure. "They would not come." Everything was prepared, but none were ready or willing to accept even so rich a blessing as life itself. This is the refrain of the whole Bible: "Ye will not; .... Ye would not;" "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" "I called, and ye refused;" "I wrote the great things of my Law; ye have counted them as strange things." Our Lord proceeds in the closing words to account in some respects for this unwillingness. I receive not glory from men, but I know you (ἔγνωκα, I have come by experience or intuition to such knowledge of you), that you have not the love of God in you. The love of God is the principle of all obedience; and Christ elsewhere declares it to be the first and great commandment of the Law. But love is the principle of all knowledge. "He that loveth not knoweth not." This principle reaches its fullest expression when we learn the greater truth that "God is love." It is true of all objects of love, the highest kind of knowledge is not possible without love. This is pre-eminently the case when we think of knowing God. Since God is essential Love, without experiencing love we cannot realize that Divine essence. Again, there is an elementary faith that precedes elementary love, but when love is once awakened, faith again deepens, and love grows by what it feeds upon, until the faith becomes vision and the love rapture. But why the opening words, I receive not glory from men? Probably they intimate opposition and questioning to some such effect as this: "Thou hast declared thyself the Giver of life and resurrection, and charged our lack of spiritual life upon our unwillingness to believe these claims and to submit ourselves to these exalted assumptions or to go to thee for life. Thou art eager, after all, for our approval and glory." To this Christ replied, "Glory from men I receive not. It is not for my sake, but for yours, I say, 'Come unto me and live;' but, alas! having searched you through and through, I discern no love, none of the spirit out of which the forces of faith can be evolved. The reason why you are unwilling to come to me for life is that you are measuring me by yourselves, and have not that self-emptying and abnegation and distrust out of which faith and love, love and faith, must ever spring."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I receive not honour from men. Not but that honour from men was due to Christ; and it becomes all men to honour him, as they do the Father; and he does receive honour and glory, and blessing from his saints, by their praying to him, praising him, believing in him, and serving him; but his sense is, that in asserting his equality with the Father, and in producing the testimonies he did, in proof of it, his view was not to obtain honour and applause among men, but to vindicate himself, and glorify his Father: nor did he say what he had just now said, about men's coming to him, with any such intention, to gather a party to him, to set up himself as a temporal king, in great pomp and splendour, and receive worldly homage and honour from men, as his subjects; for his kingdom was not of this world, and coming and subjection to him were things of a spiritual nature.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
41. I receive not honour from men—contrasting His own end with theirs, which was to obtain human applause.
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