"Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
The Jews to whom Jesus was speaking refused to believe Him. Very early in this conversation (verse 24) Jesus explicitly said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." Those who hear the words of the Son and believe the Father who sent Him will not be condemned for their sins but will have eternal life. They not only did not believe Jesus, but they also judged Him for healing a paralyzed man on the Sabbath and making Himself equal to God.
Verse 24 is part of a detailed explanation Jesus gives the Jews to help them understand He is the judge and not them. In verse 22, He tells them the Father has given Him "all judgment." In verse 27, He adds the fact that this authority is given to Him because He is the Son of Man and His judgment is just because He is carrying out the Father's will, not His own. Even though Jesus has the authority to judge, He will not be their accuser. In verse 45 they are told, "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope." The Jews had placed their hope of being right before God based upon the Law of Moses.
The Jews had already rejected three witnesses proving Jesus to be the Son; John the Baptist, the works Jesus performed, and the Father. Now Jesus adds Moses' name to the list of witnesses, but the Jews refused to believe any of them.
In Deuteronomy 18:16-19, Moses tells Israel the LORD will raise up a prophet to whom they must listen. This prophet will provide all of God's instruction, and God Himself will judge anyone who refuses to listen to Him. In John 8:28 Jesus says, "I do nothing on my own authority but speak just as the Father taught me." In John 12:49, He adds "for I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has given me a command - what to say and what to speak."
John 5:45 helps us understand, even with all the evidence, why the Jews refused to see Jesus for who He was. Jesus says they have misplaced their hope. Instead of hoping in God, they placed their hope, faith, and confidence in Moses.
We are blessed to live this side of the death and resurrection of Jesus. We are blessed to know our hope is only in the risen Savior. In Romans 5:2, Paul describes our hope like this, "Through him (Jesus) we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." I like Peter's praise: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3)
My prayer is that we believe in and have our hope in Christ alone. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.