Jesus continues his response to His critics in Jerusalem. Up to now, Jesus has healed a crippled man on the Sabbath and He has claimed to be equal with God in works, love, judgment and honour. Now, Jesus speaks about the evidence to His claims. Jesus does not just say: “Have faith” or “believe it because I said so” , He offers reasons and testimony as to why He should be believed. This evidence is given in the form of human testimony, His miracles and the Word of God.
This passage of scripture is extremely important for biblical faith based purely on that Jesus makes no attempt to ask the people to trust Him blindly – “blind faith”. Jesus fulfills the requirements man needs for evidence by giving three separate lines of evidence to prove His claims.
Testimonies About Jesus
31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true.
33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.
36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” John 5:31-47
In keeping with Jewish customs, Jesus knew He could not testify or bare witness to Himself, He needed witnesses or evidence to testify about Him. The need for human testimony is not something that Jesus requires, but Jesus understood that in order for the Pharisees to “believe”, they needed some sort of natural testimony.
The first testimony
Jesus specifically refers to John the Baptist, who bore witness to Jesus and proclaimed His anointing by the Holy Spirit. When the Pharisees came to investigate John the Baptist, he immediately pointed them away from himself and towards the Promised One – Jesus (John 1:25-28).
The second testimony
The next form of evidence Jesus provides is His miracle working abilities, which points directly to His divine nature – He has Godly power. These miracles were seen by others, including critics, first-hand and so Jesus can give this evidence as being far greater than the witness John the Baptist bore for Jesus.
This, is a major part to the Gospel of John – he specifically focuses on Jesus’ miracles, calling them “signs” . The purpose of choosing these miracles is to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God. Miracles are used by God sparingly as a way to prove His message (Hebrews 2:3–4). The fact that Jesus is wielding the power of God should inspire faith in those who see His works.
The third testimony
In His final testimony, Jesus offers what should be the most powerful testimony of all – the written Word of God. But, unfortunately, these men were too focused on the law and the words in Scriptures that they had never heard God’s voice. Even so, if they knew the laws and scriptures so well, how is that they do not recognise Jesus? Simply put, knowledge is not the same as faith. They were filled with pride and arrogance and this blinded them to recognising that the Scriptures they knew so well were being fulfilled.
We can know the scriptures well, but still lack in faith. It is not enough to know about God as it is to have saving faith in God. Those who refuse to believe will not believe, with or without evidence.
This is a problem many people, many Christian denominations, face today. Their focus rests more on laws and traditions, power and prestige, rather than having faith in the truth. We, as Christians, are call to be believe by faith!
The Pharisees are not rejecting Jesus because they don’t have enough evidence. They are rejecting the evidence because they refuse to believe in Jesus.
Jesus is known for His love and kindness. But He was also willing to be confrontational and powerful when needed. In this passage of Scripture we see Jesus be confrontational. He gets personal with the Pharisees. Jesus has provided more than enough evidence and yet the very law the Pharisees are experts in condemns their actions and supports His claims. For Jesus to point to Moses—the cornerstone of Pharisaical traditions—as the very evidence that they were sinners is an intensely personal, direct challenge to their very identity.
Don’t be like a Pharisee!
There are many who profess to believe the Gospel. They are even good Bible teachers and go on to earn a Ph.D. in Theology. But when reading their written works or observing their way of life, we could seriously question whether they truly know Jesus in a saving way. Like these Jews, they have studied the Scriptures, but they missed coming to Christ so that they may have life.
Don’t be like that! The testimony of the witnesses to Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, is solid. Jesus spoke these words so that you may be saved.
Come to Him so that you may have eternal life.
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