In the Old Testament when God established the judicial law for Israel, one of the things that God did was to establish a way that the truth can be verified. If someone was accused of anything, how the judges would know that it was true. The system that God established was what we would call today as eye witness testimony but, it did not end there, God required that there must be a minimum of two eye witnesses before any accusation can be determined as true. See the verse below:
Deuteronomy 19:15 (ESVST)
Laws Concerning Witnesses
15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.
If you read further on from verse 16-21, you will realize that God made provision on how to identify and deal with a false witness. However, that is not part of the discussion today. The important message to get is that only on the evidence of two or more witnesses shall the truth be determined and accepted to be true. Having this in mind, let’s look at our passage for today.
Here we find Jesus still in Jerusalem at the feast of the Jews. This is after he healed a man on sabbath at the sheep gate pool called Bethesda. This angered the Jews and as they were questioning him, he then told them where he got the authority from to do what he did and how he himself is God. Now if someone was to make such a claim, according to Jewish law, they would have to either prove their stament or die. Now, as we read above, truth can only be established on the evidence of two or more witnesses. Jesus in our passage today does not only give them two or three but gives them five witnesses. John the Baptist, the works that Jesus do, God, the scripture and lastly Moses.
Let’s see how Jesus develops this.
John 5:31-47 (ESVST)
31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.
Jesus begins by emphasing what already is known by the Jews that if anyone testifies about himself then, his testimony cannot be accepted as true. This simply reminds the Jews of the verse we dealt with at the beginning of this message. Jesus then says, there is indeed another person that testifies about me and he knows that his testimony is true.
JOHN THE BAPTIST
33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John.
Jesus then tells them that John the Baptist is one who bears witness about him. Jesus tells them that this John was a burning and shinning lamp and they the Jews were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. This same John bears witness about me, Jesus told them. Jesus continued to say in verse 34 that, it is not even that I need testimony from man but, I am saying these so that you may be saved. Jesus then continues to say even though John bears witness of me but, the testimony I have is even greater than that of John.
WORKS OF JESUS
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.
Jesus then said to them although John was the shining lamp and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light, he has even a greater testimony than what John had. Jesus says the reason being that the works that God has given him to accomplish, the ones that he is currently doing, these works bear witness of him. Jesus is saying, look at the works that I am doing, no one can do this unless he is of God. If you don’t believe my words, then take a look at what I am doing.
37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.
Jesus then says God who has sent him, he himself has borne witness about me. You will remember that when Jesus was baptized, God did speak
Matthew 3:17 (ESVST)
and behold, a voice from heaven said, “ This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus is then saying, even God himself witnessed about me. Then Jesus said but you have never heard his voice, you have never seen his form and you do not have his word abiding in you, why, because you simply do not believe the one whom he has sent.
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 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 do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
Jesus the said to the Jews, listen you spend countless hours searching and trying to understand scripture because you believe that in these scriptures, you have eternal life but, one thing that you simply do not see is that these very same scriptures bear witness of me. You will recall that Jesus could only have referred to the old testament scriptures since the New Testament did not exist yet. Jesus said, although these scriptures bear witness of me, you refuse to come to me that you may have life. Jesus was simply saying, you believe that scriptures will give you eternal life, these scriptures bear witness of me and therefore it is me who will give you eternal life but yet you refuse to accept me.
Jesus then said, listen, I don’t seek glory from people but from God but one thing for sure is that you Jews do not have the love of God within you. Jesus then said to them, I have come in my fathers name and you don’t recieve me but if another came in his own name you would recieve him. Then Jesus told them that the reasons why they don’t believe is that instead of seeking glory form God, they seek glory from one another. Instead of pleasing God, they would rather please themselves. What is important to them is their reputation and their public status rather than seeking the glory of God and this prevents them from believing.
45 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. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
It is well known how much respect the Jews had for Moses and his writings. They believed in everything that Moses wrote and tried to live by it. They had set their hope of eternal life in these very writings of Moses but then Jesus said to them, that he is not the one who is going to accuse them infront of God but, it is the very same Moses who will accuse them because he wrote of him and they don’t believe. Jesus told them, Moses wrote of me and you don’t believe, how then will you believe my words.
Jesus did not only give them two or three witnesses but he gave them 5!
This brings us to the end of Chapter 5.
Father thank you for such wonderful words of encouragement. Encouraging us to trust and believe in our Lord, your son, Jesus Christ who by the evidence of five witnesses declared himself to us. May we accept and believe in his words at all times. Thank you Father for allowing me to reach another milestone in my life as it is my birthday today the 10 January, in Jesus name, Amen