John 5 Sermon: Jesus and the Job Interview
This year in our College preaching class, we had to give a ten minute sermon on John 5:31-47 in front of a group of our peers. Here’s my sermon. I don’t preach from full notes, so it won’t match word for word what I said, but will be close enough. And at the bottom, I’ve included a picture of the notes I preached from. With smaller talks, I like to bluetack my notes into my Bible next to the passage I’m preaching from and preach with the Bible open in my hands.
When I finished high school, everyone was given a written reference to put in their resumé. The trick was to get the right teacher to write it. You wanted to make sure you got a teacher who not only liked you but knew who you were. And preferably you wanted a teacher who could string two words together, so a PE teacher or a math teacher weren’t always the best bets. And seeing how everyone wanted the same handful of teachers to write their references, it became like a lottery to see who you would get.
Why were we concerned about our references? 11 years later and I don’t think I’ve ever used my high school reference in a job interview. But I have used references from other people. References tell a prospective employer who you are. They tell them what you have done and what you are qualified to do. They help inform the interviewer if you are the right person for the job.
In John 5:31-47, Jesus is being asked about his references. Jewish leaders are attacking Jesus as they demand to know by what right he is saying the things he is saying and doing the things he is doing. Just previously to this, Jesus has healed a man on the Sabbath. This was a big no-no in the culture at the time, as the Jews believed that they should not work at all on the Sabbath and they considered healing someone work. These Jewish leaders confronted Jesus and demanded to know what gave him the right to do and say the things he did. Who gave him permission to do these things?
“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid.
“You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
“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. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
“I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 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. 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?
“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:31-47)
Imagine Jesus in a job interview. He’s sitting there on one side of the table and the Jewish leaders on the other.
“Have you got any work experience?”
“Well, I’ve healed the sick, given sight to the blind, casted out demons, walked on water, fed thousands with virtually nothing, and preached about God all over Israel.”
“Okay, but do you have any references?”
The Jewish leaders wanted to know who Jesus was. They wanted to know why he was upsetting their way of doing things. Just who did he think he was?
So Jesus pulls out his references. They liked John the Baptist right? John had been baptising people and calling them back to God. His testimony would have to be worth something, right? In verse 33, Jesus points out that John points towards Jesus as the one God has promised. The great Messiah who will bring glory to God and make Israel a great nation. But they haven’t believed what John has said.
If John’s testimony isn’t good enough, what about the things he has done? Surely the work in verse 36 that Jesus has been doing, the work that the Father gave him to do, is testimony to who he is? Who else can do the things Jesus does, except the one who God sent?
Even if the Jewish leaders ignore both of these references, they can’t ignore the next one. In verse 39, Jesus appeals to the Scriptures. The very Scriptures that these leaders have been studying all their lives. The very Scriptures that are foundational to every thing they believe. Jesus points to the Scriptures and says, “These Scriptures? They’re all about me.”
Jesus is the promised son of God. He is the one that God said he would send to earth to deal with the problem of sin. These Jewish leaders had been waiting for him all their lives. But now that he was there, they didn’t want to have anything to do with him. They rejected the one who came to save them.
Think about your life. Are you missing something? Are you searching and searching for something but haven’t found it? Are you looking to fill a hole in your life, but no matter what you try, it just doesn’t fit? Have you tried to find satisfaction and purpose in friends, family, material possessions, work, play, whatever? Have you found all the applicants lacking?
In Alice Cooper’s 1973 song Elected, he said “Kids want a saviour, don’t need a fake.” Are you looking for someone or something to be your saviour, but so far only found fakes?
Have you tried interviewing Jesus? The reason that Jesus brings up his references is because he is the saviour. In verse 34 he says “but I mention it that you may be saved”. He is going through all of this because he is concerned about you. He wants you to know that you can be rescued from sin. That you can be restored to a right relationship with God. And all you have to do is accept him as your saviour.
Consider Jesus for the positon of your own personal saviour. When you weigh up the evidence, when you examine the testimonies, when you take a look at his qualifications, you’ll find that Jesus is the only man for the job! Jesus is the only one who can save you. Will you consider him for the position?