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In the Gospel of John 5:45, Jesus says:

Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.

How should we interpret these words? Will Moses play some role of accuser at the Last Judgement? Is Moses in some way showing our sins to God?

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Moses wrote down that a prophet like him would come later. The people were to listen to him:

"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken... I [God] will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, whoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him." Deuteronomy 18:15-19 KJV

Jesus warned those Jews who thought that legalism would grant them God's favour that they should diligently study the Hebrew scriptures because they showed they needed to come to him to have life. But they sought to kill him! His disciples recognized him to be the foretold Messiah, and of them Jesus said:

"I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest me them, and they have kept thy word... For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me." John 17:6-8 KJV

How different were those pious Jews who were meticulous in keeping the law of Moses but who remained blinded to just who Jesus was - this One Moses said they must listen to, if God were not to hold them to account! Jesus told them then,

"And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life... Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" John 5:39-47 KJV

The very words of Moses (written down in Deuteronomy about the Christ) would condemn those Jewish men on the Day of Judgment. The sin of those Jewish people rejecting Christ, refusing to believe him, will then be seen by all, including themselves. No need for Christ to say a word.

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  • In this context, Jesus makes even heavier some of the Old Testament laws cited in chapter 5 of the book of Matthew.
    – Betho's
    Commented Mar 10, 2023 at 1:14
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Jesus alludes to the Law of Moses, which the Jews regarded highly. They would reference it as the Torah, the law of Moses, or, as in this case, shorten the expression to just "Moses."

It is the scripture written by Moses that will stand in evidence against those who have rejected the truth.

And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel: (Deuteronomy 4:44, KJV)

The "book of Moses" is mentioned multiple times in the Bible.

On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; (Nehemiah 13:1, KJV)

Jesus himself did this.

And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? (Mark 12:26, KJV)

So when Jesus speaks of "Moses" accusing the people in the day of judgment, he refers, not to the man, but to the book.

We may not reference the Torah, or Pentateuch, as "the Book of Moses" today--but this was the Jewish manner.

Conclusion

Moses is not personally accusing anyone; rather it is his writings--those given him by God--which stand on record against any who do not receive them.

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This teaching involves the authority of Jesus versus the (presumed) authority of Hebrew scriptures regarding doing work on the Sabbath. Jesus was working on the Sabbath and the Hebrews were condemning him because of it since by a technical reading of the Torah, doing work on the Sabbath is forbidden.

Earlier in the chapter Jesus says:

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39 NIV)

So, in other words, what Jesus is saying is that the Hebrews are tendentiously reading the scriptures to condemn His actions, but in fact regardless of what the scriptures might say his teaching overrides it because He carries the Holy Spirit in what he does and since Moses prophesized His coming, he has the authority of Moses when he overrides what the scriptures say literally.

Thus, when the Hebrews condemn Jesus according to their pedantic reading of the Torah, they are (Jesus claims) essentially defying Moses himself and since Moses was the original bringer of the Torah, his authority presupposes it. The upshot is that by relying on the words of Moses as opposed to his divine intent, the Hebrews are losing the eternal life they seek which Jesus offers ("whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life").

In other words, the Hebrews are vainly seeking eternal life in the words of the scriptures, instead of seeking eternal life from the Holy Spirit which is brought by Jesus, and when the final judgment comes it is the authority of Moses himself that will condemn them.

It is not necessary to read the passage literally and suppose that the ghost of Moses will be present at Doomsday, because when Jesus says "Moses will condemn you" it can just as well mean that the original intent of Moses as known by God will be enough to do that.

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