About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Testimonies About Jesus (ch. 5:31-47)


In verse 31 Jesus states that if His testimony to who He claimed to be was based on what He said about Himself, His testimony would not be valid.  Anyone can claim anything about himself that is not true.  This happens all the time, even in Christian circles.  Others must confirm what they see in you.  Others must see in your life what you claim.  You might even say that this is a legal matter.  As in a court of law, one can testify on his own behalf, but, before a verdict can be reached, others must testify as well, either to confirm or deny the one on trial.    


In verse 32 Jesus said that there was someone else who has testified on His behalf and His testimony is true. Of course, that other one is God Himself.  This would have driven the Jewish religious establishment crazy.  Any time Jesus associated Himself with God was considered blasphemy, especially when Jesus called God His Father or He God's Son. 


You might ask, "How did God the Father testify on behalf of Jesus?"  I think His testimony could be seen in the miracles Jesus performed.  Remember, Jesus said that the disciples would see the angels of God ascending and descending upon Him.  They would have been sent by the Father.  Also, the voice of God spoke concerning Jesus being His Son when Jesus was water baptized by John the Baptist.  That was a verbal confirmation given by God to the Jews who saw Jesus being baptized.    


In verse 33 Jesus mentions John the Baptist as another possible one to testify on His behalf.  For those who were accepting John's testimony and message of repentance, they should have accepted his testimony that Jesus was the Lamb of God, the Saviour of the world. 


In verse 34 Jesus says that He doesnít need manís testimony to verify who He is.  He has Godís testimony.  Who can outdo God?  He only mentions John the Baptist to help bring salvation to those listening to Him because many of them had believed Johnís teaching. 


How would the mention of John the Baptist help these people to come to salvation?  In verse 35 Jesus states that for a time they enjoyed the light of understanding John the Baptist offered them.  This implies that they did believe John, but now may have lost interest in John and his message.  Jesus is saying that if you believed John and the light of understanding that he shed forth, then youíd believe in me and you would be saved.  This is how Johnís testimony comes into play concerning the validity of Jesus.


Jesus says that John was a lamp, showing forth light.  One might understand this in a number of ways.  He gave forth the light of understanding as I noted above.  His message was all about repentance, so, when he spoke about sin, he was shining the heavenly light on the sin of the Jews.  His message was in fact the light that shown in dark places, exposing the sin of the people. 


In verse 36 Jesus says that He has someone greater than John the Baptist that they should also accept.  He says the work the Father has sent Him to do and finish is also a testimony in itself.  Part of the work Jesus was doing is the miracles He performed.  They were meant to help point the way to God and salvation.  Part was His preaching.  Part was yet to come in His death, resurrection, and ascension. 


The same can be, or at least should be said of us.  If we claim to be doing Godís work, and if we claim to have a certain ministry, then it should be evident in our lives.  The work is the fruit of Godís calling on our lives, and, all Christians are called to some kind of ministry.  


In verse 37 Jesus continues by saying, "You have never heard His (the Fatherís) voice nor seen His form, nor does His word dwell in you, for you have not believed the one He sent."  People without Jesus in their lives cannot hear Godís voice. Those who have given their lives to Jesus can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and thus hear God. 


Matthew 3:16 tells us that when Jesus came up out of the waters of baptism a voice from Heaven was heard saying, "This is my Son whom I love."  This sounds like it was the voice of God.  That being the case, how and why does Jesus say that these people have never heard the voice of God?  I can only guess.  Maybe, because He was speaking to a different crowd of people that weren't at His water baptism, they never heard that voice.  Maybe Jesus was talking about more than hearing a literal voice.  Maybe He was implying that in their hearts, they have never heard the voice of God.               


Who actually heard the voice of God and seen the Spirit fall on Jesus at His water baptism has been a controversy even since the second century.  There is no text that clearly states that the crowd of people at the river heard the voice or saw the Spirit fall on Jesus.  I believe according to Matthew 3:16 that at least John the Baptist and Jesus heard the voice and saw the Spirit fall like a dove. If the crowd of people, assuming there was a large crowd when Jesus was baptized heard the voice, then we need to incorporate that motion into our understanding of our present verse here in John 5.     


Jesus also said that these people had never seen the form of God.  Does this imply that God has a form, even though He is Spirit, as we learned in chapter 4?  Maybe God does have some kind of spirit form that humans cannot see.  Maybe it resembles pure light.  Maybe only angels or spirits or redeemed saints in Heaven see this form. Or, maybe Jesus is speaking anthropomorphically.  That is to say, He is speaking of God in human terms to help make a point.   


In verse 38 Jesus also tells these people that the Word of God does not dwell in them.  The Word of God here implies all that God has said to Israel over the centuries.  Israelis have consistently and systematically closed their hearts to the Word of God.  For this reason Jesus says that these people don't believe.  If they would have received the words of the prophets of old, they would have been more in tune with their God and would have received Jesus into their lives, the very Messiah the prophets spoke about, but, since they rejected the prophets, it only makes sense that they would reject Jesus.     


In verses 39 and 40 Jesus says something very interesting.  He says; "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life."  The Pharisees and Saducess constantly studied the Old Testament Scriptures.  They thought, as Jesus states here, that the Scriptures themselves brought eternal life, but that was not true back then and it is not true today.  One can study the Bible and not find eternal life.  The Scriptures, as Jesus says here, testify about Him.  If you study the Bible and reject Jesus, youíve missed the intent of the Scriptures and fail in your attempt to find eternal life.  This does not negate the importance of studying the Bible.  Studying can lead you to Jesus.  If you give your life to Him, youíd learn about Him and find Him in Scripture, yet if you reject Him, all the study in the world will do you no good.


Studying the Bible should lead to Jesus, but that's not always the case, as is clearly seen in the so-called liberal church.  If you bring unscriptural presuppositions of liberal thought to the table of study, you will not understand what the Bible is really saying, and, you will not find Jesus.  Let's not impose our thinking on God's word.  Let His Word speak for itself.   


In verse 41 Jesus says that He does not accept the praise of men.  Why would He say this?  Jesus knew manís heart as He has said earlier.  He knew the fickleness of man Ė one day he believes Ė the next day he doesnít believe.  He knew only to well how sinful man is, so why would He want to receive praise from men?  Men might well have wrong motives for giving praise to Jesus.  Jesus doesnít need praise to make Him feel good as we do.  We could learn a lesson here.  As Jesus was secure in Himself and His relationship to His Father, so we should be secure in ourselves and our relationship with Jesus.  Jesus didnít need the praise of man to make Him feel good about Himself.  We donít need the praise of man to make us feel good about ourselves.  We should feel good about ourselves based on the fact that Jesus feels good about us, and that should suffice.


In verse 42 Jesus comes right out and tells those listening to Him that they donít have the love of God in their hearts.  Iím sure this irritated those hearing these words.  The Jewish religious leaders gave themselves to their brand of Judaism.  They felt they had the love of God in their hearts, but, it was their brand of Judaism, not God's brand. 


Jesus was not afraid to irritate people by speaking the truth.  Truth mattered to Jesus and it should matter to us.  Another thought here is that people shouldn't necessarily be irritated by the way we speak the truth, but by the truth itself.  Sometimes Christians cause undue irritation by their own unkind mannerisms.  Let the truth offend, not the way we present the truth.  


In verse 43 Jesus goes on to say that they accept others who testify about themselves, but they wonít accept Him who doesnít testify about himself.  To Jesus that makes no sense.  Anyone can say anything about themselves to be true when in fact what they say could be false.  The generation listening to Jesus preferred to take the chance and believe those men who said all sorts of good things about themselves, but refused to believe in Jesus who performed the miracles of God that were a testimony on His behalf. 


We need to understand that not all people rejected Jesus.  Many in the crowd did accept Him, but the Jewish leadership who represented the people for the most part rejected Him as a mad man.


In verse 44 Jesus points out one fault of the Jewish leadership and those in the crowd who believed as they did.  Jesus says that they accept praise from one another, and this praise is supposed to validate them, make them officially what they claim to be.  Jesus says that praise from man means nothing if you donít have praise from God.  It is so important for us to understand our place with God and with Jesus.  If we are truly His then we know that we have Godís approval.  It is Godís approval that we need.  Yes, it is nice to have manís approval, and it certainly makes us feel good, but manís approval comes and goes, and may not even be accurate in the first place.  We should understand that we have Godís approval if we have given our lives to the One He has sent, namely Jesus.  It's only our insecurities that make us look for praise of men.


In verse 45 Jesus tells those in opposition not to worry about Him accusing them before God.  He doesnít have to do that anyway.  They accuse themselves.  They do this by claiming that they are followers of Moses and the Law.  The fact that Moses and the Law spoke about Jesus and they refuse to see that is what accuses them.  They are students of the Law, but theyíve missed the intent of the Law, and that is Jesus.  This tells us something about the Law of Moses.  Yes, it was a number of rules to live by but the main importance of the Law was to show people their need of a Messiah, and that Messiah is Jesus.  Paul clearly teaches this in his letter to the Romans.


So Jesus doesnít have to accuse these people.  Their actions, their misunderstanding of the true nature of the Law accuses them before God.  Because they claim to obey the Law of Moses when in fact they don't, that will accuse them before God.  The Biblical fact is this.  If you refuse God's grace and thus be free from accusation, then you will be judged by your works.  No one can stand before God and not be accused apart from God's grace.  The choice is ours.  Be judged by our works or receive the grace of God.


Verse 46 confirms what I've said above.  Jesus said that if the Jews really believed Moses, then they would believe Him.  Why?  Because Moses spoke and taught about the Messiah who would come.     


In verse 47 Jesus simply concludes that because they didn't believe Moses, they won't believe Him.  Of course, they thought they were believing Moses, but they weren't.


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