Chapter 5:30-47 (ESV) - “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. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 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?”
Question to consider: Who are the three witnesses of Jesus according to this passage?
As Jesus continued His discussion with the Jews in Jerusalem, He began by proclaiming that His judgments were just because He only sought to do that which God the Father wanted Him to do. It’s an amazing thing to think about when you think about how we make judgments in the world. How often does our judgment get clouded by our personal opinions or experiences or prejudices? Jesus was being persecuted by these men. He could have performed some kind of marvelous sign to make Himself look superior and put them in their place, but He instead appealed to the witness of John the Baptist who at one time had their favor.
John knew who Jesus was and proclaimed it publicly. Jesus also appealed to the witness of His Father in the miracles. The main reason that the Jews continually asked for a sign was because Jesus continued to say things that were counter-intuitive to their religious experiences. The idea was that if Jesus lied when He said something fantastic like “God is my Father,” He would not be able to perform an act of God. When God continued to work through Jesus while making such proclamations, it served as God’s witness that Jesus did not lie.
Of course, the Father verbally proclaimed Jesus to be His beloved Son with whom He is well-pleased, but they weren’t around to hear that. However, John the Baptist was so Jesus implored them to listen to John and believe the works that Jesus did before their eyes. Jesus could have just left it there, but He insisted that they had never heard the voice of God nor had His word abiding in them. This would have been a highly offensive statement to those who believed that their traditions were given to them directly by God and who believed that they were experts in God’s written word.
People can participate in Bible studies, church sermons, and reading plans, but Jesus’ central point was that if they truly knew the scriptures, they would be able to recognize who He was and come to Him for life, for all of scripture spoke of Him. If you’ve been through any of my other studies, you should recognize that my entire method of interpretation is to elevate Christ in the scriptures. We study scriptures to know and love Christ and then overflow with the love of the Father like the Samaritan woman overflowed with faith. Scripture is not just a series of platitudes to memorize and to inspire. Scripture should fundamentally change us and orient our view on the eternal things of God.
If they would not accept the testimony of John or the testimony of the Father through the miracles, Jesus offered a third witness whom they could not deny: Moses. Of course if they refused to listen to Moses and the prophets, they wouldn’t listen even if someone rose from the dead.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for providing a witness to us of Your Son. May we listen to Him through the words You have spoken through the apostle John. Help us to see Christ throughout the scriptures and look to Him alone for eternal life. Amen.