Jesus Calls His Witnesses to the Stand – John 5:31-47

(Note:  John chapter 7 was published this morning by mistake.  Here is the next post in the series.)

Up to this point in John chapter 5, Jesus has been identifying Himself as the divine Son sent by God.  But now Jesus explains that the testimony of one person about himself is not worth much and He calls on the testimony of several witnesses to support His claim to be the divine Son of God.

John 5:31 “If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true.”  (There is not only “another” who testifies about Jesus, but several “others” as we are about to see.)

33 “You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth.” (The first witness Jesus calls is John the Baptist.) 34 “But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.” (John the Baptist’s testimony regarding Jesus is recorded primarily in chapter 1 of the apostle John’s gospel.  John the Baptist said of Jesus, ” ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.’  Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ ” (Jn 1:29, 34-36) ).

Next is the witness of Jesus’ works. 36 “But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish – the very works that I do – testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.” (The testimony of Jesus’ works is even greater than the testimony of John.  Three miracles have been recorded so far in this gospel and many more have surely been performed.  And even greater miracles are coming; the feeding of the 5000 and the raising of Lazarus from the dead, for example.  These works Christ performs are clearly supernatural, and indicate that He has been sent by God.)

Continuing on… 37 “And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form.”  (The Father is also His witness, referring to His baptism.  What did the Father say?  “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Mt 3:17).  They did not hear the voice, but it was enough to convince John the Baptist (Jn 1:32-34).) 38 “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.”

Now a new witness, the Scriptures, is called to the stand by Jesus. 39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (You search the Scriptures for the key to eternal life when eternal life is right in front of you; Me!  The Scriptures bear witness of Me.  I am the eternal life you seek, but you are unwilling.)

41 “I do not receive glory from men; 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43 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. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (If you had the love of God, you would have received the One who came in God’s name.  If you had the love of God, you would have listened to the testimony of John the Baptist, the miracle works, God the Father, and the Scriptures.  But you were more interested in the accolades of your peers than of God.)

45 “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words ?” (Even your most sacred prophet, Moses, wrote of Me.  The testimony of Moses and Christ are so closely linked that Jesus expects His listeners to embrace the testimony of both.  At least that is how it should be.  But as we will see in the passage ahead, the Jews are not buying it.)

We close our exposition of John chapter 5 with this quote from F. F. Bruce in his commentary on the book of John.  “The conflict between Jesus and the religious establishment in Jerusalem, begun in this chapter with His claim to be the Son of God, continues to be waged with increasing intensity throughout the gospel until it reaches its climax in the passion narrative of John 19:7, “By our law He ought to die, because He has made Himself the Son of God.”