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John 5:30–36

“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” (v. 36).

Returning to the gospel of John, we pick up our study today in John 5:30. We are in the middle of a teaching discourse that follows the account of Jesus’ healing of the lame man at Bethesda on the Sabbath. Our Lord’s actions and teaching associated with that event were claims to divine authority, and they mean that Jesus understood Himself to be far more than a mere man. Jesus understood Himself to be doing the very works of God Himself and to possess the very attributes that make God who He is (vv. 1–29).

So united with the Father did Jesus claim to be that He even said He could do nothing on His own (v. 30). These were lofty claims indeed, and Jesus certainly knew that the Jews would demand proof of His assertions. That explains why our Savior spoke at length about the witnesses to His identity, beginning His identification of these others who testified to Him with the startling claim, “If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true” (v. 31). At first glance, we might think that Jesus meant that we cannot take His claims at face value, but that is not what He was getting at. Instead, Jesus was acknowledging that His teaching about Himself was weighty indeed and that His opponents would not be entirely wrong to have a healthy skepticism about such incredible claims. To claim divine authority falsely would be the height of idolatry, the first and greatest sin (Ex. 20:3; Rom. 1:18–23). The Jews required multiple witnesses in legal settings (Deut. 19:15), so more than one witness would surely be necessary to demonstrate the truth of Jesus’ claim of deity.

Furthermore, the specific claims of Jesus Himself required a witness in addition to Him. Remember that Jesus said He was doing only what the Father gave Him to do and that He does only what the Father does (John 5:19–29). Two persons were acting in everything that Jesus did, and the only way to demonstrate the truth of that claim is if both persons agree that they both were acting. So, Jesus identifies the Father as one of the witnesses to Him (v. 32). However, to make it abundantly clear that Jesus was telling the truth, God sent other witnesses as well. He sent John the Baptist, not because Jesus needed his testimony but because the Father sought the salvation of His people and knew John’s human testimony would be a valuable means to convince them (vv. 33–35). In addition to John’s witness, the miracles of Jesus were also a testimony to the truth of His teaching (v. 36).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

God has not left us with limited evidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be. There is an abundance of testimony to His identity, including His own teaching, the witness of John the Baptist, the witness of the Father, and the witness of our Lord’s miracles. In times of doubt, remembering this testimony can fortify our faith and encourage us to persevere.

For Further Study
  • Deuteronomy 5:20
  • Proverbs 14:5
  • John 1:6–8
  • Revelation 1:4–5

Christian Friends

The Witness of Moses and the Scriptures

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From the April 2018 Issue
Apr 2018 Issue