Remember the “if, then” clauses from elementary school. If you do x, then y will happen. I remember studying this in grammar class. I recall drawing lines from a list of “if” sentences to correspond with the “then” conclusion. Jesus must have picked up on this rule in his schooling. He tends to give the disciples and Pharisees a lot of “if, then” examples. Toward the end of John 5 Jesus is having quite a conversation with the Pharisees about their allegiance. His crescendo is v.40: “How can you believe when you seek glory from one another and do not seek glory from God?”
This is a great statement by Jesus, but I have a problem with it. Everything in me wants to be praised and recognized by others. I want to do something great and have people pat me on the back telling me how wonderful I am. I want the spotlight, I want my name in lights, I want people to desire to be like me. I guess that is why Jesus’ words in John 5 are so troubling to me. What Jesus tells us here is that seeking glory from others is the opposite of belief. If we truly believe the Gospel then we realize that we are loved no matter what. There is no need to seek glory because we have the ultimate love and approval from the only voice that truly matters.
Jesus’ hope for us is that we will choose belief over glory. He is familiar with the decision and he knows it is a hard one to make. When Satan came to him and told him to jump from the temple, he was asking Jesus to choose glory over belief. Satan was trying to convince Jesus that glory was the goal. Jesus knew it was an empty promise, I often forget.