Our accuser could be Moses?

Your accuser is Moses …

Who said that?

If you’re a regular reader, then you know the answer.
If you’re familiar with John 5:45, then you know the answer.

If you don’t know who it was, keep reading and then you will know the answer.

The one who said Your accuser is Moses was Jesus.

So – how does one get to be in the position where Jesus tells someone that Moses is their accuser?

Let’s start off with the statement in context

Jn 5:45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Next – let’s see why this matters.

The quote below is from a book titled Creation: Remarkable Evidence of God’s Design.

“The unquestioning acceptance and teaching of the theory of evolution by high schools, universities, and the media has produced a logical contradiction in the minds of a majority of Western Christians that seriously compromises their faith in the commands and promises of the Scriptures. Jesus Himself, speaking of Genesis, warned: “But if ye believe not his [Moses’] writings, how shall ye believe my words?” (John 5: 47). Our generation of believers in the West is the first generation in the last two thousand years of the Christian Church to have faith in Christ and the Word of God and, yet, have deep reservations about the scientific accuracy of many biblical statements, especially the Genesis account regarding the Creation of the Universe and life.”  1)from “Creation: Remarkable Evidence of God’s Design” by Grant R. Jeffrey

I’ve written about creation before – nothing new there.  But it seems that many believe they can ignore the Old Testament, or at least parts of it, with no consequences.  That’s a position that deserves a second look, especially given the last sentence from the passage in John’s Gospel –

But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

That statement is the culmination of two sets of passages, the first of which the NIV titles Life Through the Son Life Through the Son .  The second one is Testimonies About Jesus.  Let’s go through both of them to see what this is all about and why it really does matter.

Life Through the Son

Jn 5:16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” 18 For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Those “things” Jesus was doing that caused so much of an issue were healing people on the Sabbath.  

You’ve probably noticed that Jesus was interacting with Jewish people.  You may also be thinking that if you’re not Jewish, then this doesn’t apply to you.  I’m not Jewish – but I think this does apply to me.  If you’re a Christian, I think it applies to you as well.  I’ll explain as we move along through the passages.  While some of them may have nothing to do with the very specific topic we’re looking into here, I’m going to include everything – because context is important.

Jn 5:19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

Jesus starts off with an explanation about healing on the Sabbath.  

Let’s look at how the Hebrew people tended to view “healing” –

HEALING — the process of applying preventive and remedial practices to maintain good health. In the ancient world health was a highly prized possession. The Hebrews tended to think of health primarily in terms of physical strength and well-being. The land of Palestine apparently provided a relatively healthy environment, as compared to Egypt and Mesopotamia—probably because of its location as well as the various laws and practices prescribed by the Law of Moses.  2)Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Here’s the Hebrew word that’s translated as “heal” –

7495 רָפָא [raphaʾ, raphah /raw·faw/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 2196; GK 8324; 67 occurrences; AV translates as “heal” 57 times, “physician” five times, “cure” once, “repaired” once, and translated miscellaneously three times. 1 to heal, make healthful. 1A (Qal) to heal. 1A1 of God. 1A2 healer, physician (of men). 1A3 of hurts of nations involving restored favour (fig). 1A4 of individual distresses (fig). 1B (Niphal) to be healed. 1B1 literal (of persons). 1B2 of water, pottery. 1B3 of national hurts (fig). 1B4 of personal distress (fig). 1C (Piel) to heal. 1C1 literal. 1C2 of national defects or hurts (fig). 1D (Hithpael) in order to get healed (infinitive).  3)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Looking not at how this word is translated, but at it’s actual definition – there is more to it than a physical cure.  Remember – the Jewish people look at all the possible definitions, and then assigned every possible meaning that fit the context.  Only those possible definitions that made no sense would have been ruled out.  Therefore, when we read “restored favour”, “individual distresses”, and even “national hurts” – it’s a cultural choice to ignore them and focus in on physical cures as the only viable meaning of the word.  This cultural choice should not affect the way we look at the Old Testament today – we should recognize the full intent of the word, and what God could / did do in terms of healing.

We see that clearly here in Isaiah, where the “healing” goes far beyond physical sickness –

Comfort for the Contrite

Isa 57:14 And it will be said:
“Build up, build up, prepare the road!
Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”

Isa 57:15 For this is what the high and lofty One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Isa 57:16 I will not accuse forever,
nor will I always be angry,
for then the spirit of man would grow faint before me—
the breath of man that I have created.

Isa 57:17 I was enraged by his sinful greed;
I punished him, and hid my face in anger,
yet he kept on in his willful ways.

Isa 57:18 I have seen his ways, but I will heal him;
I will guide him and restore comfort to him,

Isa 57:19 creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
says the LORD. “And I will heal them.”

Isa 57:20 But the wicked are like the tossing sea,
which cannot rest,
whose waves cast up mire and mud.

Isa 57:21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”

Jesus is now telling the Jewish people – and, I believe, us as well – that healing is much more than a physical cure, given.  Jesus is telling the people that the “healing” he had been doing was done at the behest of the Father.  He goes on to tell them that even greater things than the healing will take place.

Let’s look at one of those healings to see the words used and what they mean –

Jn 4:46 Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.

Jn 4:48 “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

Jn 4:49 The royal official said, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jn 4:50 Jesus replied, “You may go. Your son will live.”

Here’s the word translated as “heal” –

2390 ἰάομαι [iaomai /ee·ah·om·ahee/] v. Middle voice of apparently a primary verb; TDNT 3:194; TDNTA 344; GK 2615; 28 occurrences; AV translates as “heal” 26 times, and “make whole” twice. 1 to cure, heal. 2 to make whole. 2A to free from errors and sins, to bring about (one’s) salvation.  4)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

And the Greek word translated as “live” –

2198 ζάω [zao /dzah·o/] v. A primary verb; TDNT 2:832; TDNTA 290; GK 2409; 143 occurrences; AV translates as “live” 117 times, “be alive” nine times, “alive” six times, “quick” four times, “lively” three times, not translated once, translated miscellaneously twice, and “vr live” once. 1 to live, breathe, be among the living (not lifeless, not dead). 2 to enjoy real life. 2A to have true life and worthy of the name. 2B active, blessed, endless in the kingdom of God. 3 to live i.e. pass life, in the manner of the living and acting. 3A of mortals or character. 4 living water, having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul. 5 metaph. to be in full vigour. 5A to be fresh, strong, efficient,. 5B as adj. active, powerful, efficacious.  5)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

So both the word “heal” from the royal official and the word “live” from Jesus were far beyond a physical sense.  
The real question isn’t so much what God meant by these words – it’s whether we choose to put limits on the limitless definition of “healing” that God had in mind for us – all the way to raising us from the dead and giving us eternal life.

Jn 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

Here in the third paragraph, Jesus begins to address the heart of the issue – the lesson He’s about to teach.  With the way the NIV breaks up the section headings, and the way we (American’s at least) are taught to read, we could very well miss this.  We’re always told –

  1. Tell the reader what you’re going to tell them – this would be the first sentence or two.
  2. Tell the reader the stuff you want them to get – the middle
  3. Tell the reader what you told them – the last sentence or two.

So we have an introduction, the body, and the conclusion.  The NIV heading would make the healing seem to be the main topic, since it appears to be the introduction.  In reality, it’s more likely that this was the conclusion to the prior passages on healing.  Then, healing is used as the segue to the lesson Jesus is about to give on believing.  

As such, these passages on healing and believing are most likely both related and incredibly important.

When we add “judging” to the mix, we get the message that the topic will be a combo plate of (a) whether or not we believe, (b) Jesus will be the judge, and (c) the ultimate healing is eternal life.  This would have been problematic on every single count – 

  1. believing, since the Jewish people had trouble believing what Jesus said,
  2. as well as refusing to believe that Jesus was the Son of God and had the authority to judge, 
  3. not to mention that some of the Jews (the Sadducees)  didn’t even believe in a resurrection or eternal life.

Let’s proceed and see what happens.

Jn 5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

After shocking the people with what He said, Jesus proceeds to tell them that the really amazing stuff is yet to come!  And remember, all of this is being said to people who already were persecuting Jesus.  

To add fuel to the fire, Jesus says that everyone will rise, not just the ones destined for glory.  The evil ones will rise to be condemned, but not by Jesus.  Again Jesus points out that that everything is for the Father.  

But now He adds that He judges only as He hears.  Well, in the NIV translation Jesus appears to say that.  Here are a couple other translations –

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”  6)The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 5:30). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

30 ‘I am not able of myself to do anything; according as I hear I judge, and my judgment is righteous, because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who sent me.”  7)Young, R. (1997). Young’s Literal Translation (Jn 5:30). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

The reasons for the different interpretations regarding (1) I judge only as I hear, (2) As I hear, I judge, and (3) according as I hear I judge, are largely due to the fact that there is no Hebrew word corresponding to “only” is what Jesus said.  It was added by the people who did the NIV translation.  That, I believe is a problem.  It could make it sound as though Jesus (God) has no first hand knowledge, because He has to listen to things someone else says.  Think about that would mean when Satan is our accuser, and Jesus only goes by what He hears.  What we need to understand here is that Jesus has a very specific accuser in mind, although we haven’t heard from the text who that is.  Because of the order in which I’m presenting this – we know it’s Moses, but Jesus’ listeners – as well as anyone just reading the Bible – doesn’t know that.  This is an important distinction – one we should not overlook.

Testimonies About Jesus Testimonies About Jesus 

Jn 5:31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.

Jesus now begins to address the question of whether or not He truly is the Son of God.  Again, we see Jesus begin with a statement that is clearly about someone else, but not identifying who that someone else is.  The people listening have got to be nervous about what’s coming next.  They’re all thinking, who can Jesus mean when He says – I know that his testimony about me is valid.

Jn 5:33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

It’s time for a bit of panic now, on the part of the Jewish people Jesus is addressing.  Back in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, we previously read exactly what Jesus was referring to when He said – You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth.  Here it is –

John the Baptist Denies Being the Christ

Jn 1:19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.’”

Jn 1:21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”

Jn 1:22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

Jn 1:23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”

Jn 1:24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

Jn 1:26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”

Jn 1:28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Jesus the Lamb of God

Jn 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Jn 1:32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

This is all bad news for the ones who sent this delegation to question John the Baptist.  One after another response is from Old Testament prophecies – which the Jewish leaders would certainly have recognized.  Jesus knew these are the ones who sent that delegation – and throws the response back in their faces – telling them they already have testimony about Him from John the Baptist.  It’s bad enough that Jesus knows about this little detective-work trip, but at this point, maybe they’re somewhat relieved – hoping that this is all Jesus has.  

Jesus is going to kill those hopes with His very next sentence.

Jn 5:36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

This is not good.  Testimony weightier than John.  
And then it gets worse.  For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me.  Back to that again.

However, it actually gets worse.  You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.  Jesus continues to talk about all the studying they do – looking into the very scriptures that foretell His coming, and yet they do not recognize Him.  We can study, learn, “know” all sorts of things.  However, unless we understand and live the things we’ve learned – they are useless.  That is essentially what Jesus said to His audience.

Jn 5:41 “I do not accept praise from men, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God ?

We looked at loving God earlier, in The problem of – With all your mind. Or not?, which examined what Jesus meant when He said – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  We saw the Old Testament origins of every part of that statement.  The Jews would also have been aware of – Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.  Jesus is telling them, very plainly, that they’ve gone beyond that to even putting each other above God.  In fact – so far above that they make no effort at all to please God. 

And now comes maybe the worst of all – the conclusion that ties it all together –

Jn 5:45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Uh Oh.  While we read it earlier, the Jews listening to Jesus finally hear the name of their ultimate accuser – Moses.  The man to whom God gave the ten commandments and the law, is the one who accuses these people.

While they, and we, should be most concerned about God, the scenario that Jesus set up is bad news for these folks.  They claim to follow Moses – be experts in The Law – follow God, because they obey the laws given to Moses – and Jesus tells them that the reason they don’t believe Him (Jesus) is because they don’t believe Moses either.  This hits to the very core of what they believe, no matter whether they have interpreted it correctly or not.  And Jesus is telling them that they got it all wrong – from the very beginning, from the very words they memorized from Moses.


OK – this is bad for the Jewish people at that time.

But how does it apply to a non-Jewish person today?

If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?

Genesis – including the creation account – was written by Moses.  It was the beginning.  If we don’t believe it, then we’re calling it a lie.  And once we begin to call God a liar, how can we all of a sudden claim to believe anything at all that He says?  If we can’t accept the things are are plainly visible, how can we begin to accept the things that aren’t visible at all – let alone the things that will happen in the future?

Who better than Moses to point out that we don’t believe the words from God that he recorded for us?

Later in John, we read –

The Jews Continue in Their Unbelief

Jn 12:37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Jn 12:39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

Jn 12:40 “He has blinded their eyes
and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

Jn 12:42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

Jn 12:44 Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

Jn 12:47 “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

Let me ask you – Is today’s science any different than the Pharisees were to the Jews back then?  Are we afraid to admit that God made everything, because the “educated” people say that’s not true?  Are we afraid to admit there are laws and absolute truth, because the “educated” people say that limits our potential?  Are we refusing to help others, because our society says it should be everyone for themselves?  

There are plenty more things to add, but I believe the point is made.  

Mt 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The law still applies – to all of us.  What’s new with Jesus is grace and forgiveness.  But the law is still needed to let us know the difference between right and wrong.  And whether it’s a Jewish Pharisee or a modern-day “expert” of something who’s telling us that’s wrong – the end result is still the same.  We shouldn’t let either one prevent us from receiving God’s grace, and enjoying eternal life with Him.

To sum it up, in Old Testament days, the law was needed in order that people would know when to make a sacrifice to God, asking for forgiveness.  Today, the sacrifice is no longer needed, because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for al of us and for all our sins.  However, the law is still needed, because it lets us know when we need to ask for forgiveness.  The need for the law is still there – even today – for all of us.


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References   [ + ]

1. from “Creation: Remarkable Evidence of God’s Design” by Grant R. Jeffrey
2. Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). In Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
3, 4, 5. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
6. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 5:30). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
7. Young, R. (1997). Young’s Literal Translation (Jn 5:30). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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