The Deity of Christ — The Witnesses

“If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. 33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light. 36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 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?” — John 5:31-47.

Why present the witnesses? — Jesus’ testimony would not be false even if He alone spoke it. By “not true” (v.31), He means not permitted in court according to the Mosaic law (Deut. 17:6;19:15). Therefore, He presents five witnesses to prove that He is God.

John’s Witness (v.33-35). — Jesus refers to John the Baptizer’s witness to His identity. He was a lamp who prepared the way for Christ.

The Jewish leaders had sent messengers to John (cf. 1:19) to learn about who John was. John described himself as, “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” — John 1:23. John was preparing the way for the coming of the Lord! John pointed to Jesus repeatedly and said that He is the One. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The Lord has come. John gave his testimony to Jesus being the Lord.

Jesus says that He does not need to rely on human testimony (v.34). Jesus refers to John to teach the people that John was right. Jesus indicates that they should have listened to John and made themselves ready for His arrival. John was not the true light, but he was a bearer of the light. He was a burning and shining lamp showing the way to Jesus. In Psalm 132:17 God says He has prepared a lamp for His anointed. Jesus is the anointed and John is the lamp. The people rejoiced in his light for a while. The implication is that they then stopped listening and following John.

Jesus’ Works Are A Witness (v.36) — Jesus’ testimony is far greater than John’s words and testimony. Jesus says that the works that He is doing bears witness that the Father has sent him. John is recording the signs that Jesus did. John chooses seven signs, each of which prove that Jesus is God because Jesus is doing the things we see God doing previously in the scriptures. Jesus is doing the works of God proving that He is God. No one can do what He is doing unless He was God.

The Father’s Witness (v.37-38) — The third witness Jesus refers to is God the Father Himself. Jesus says that the Father has also given His witness concerning Him. Now we would expect Jesus to explain how the Father has given his testimony. But Jesus does not explain that. John has already recorded the testimony of the Father concerning Jesus (cf. John 1:32-34). The proof is found in the baptism of Jesus. The Holy Spirit and the Father both give their testimony that Jesus is the Son of God. The Spirit hovering over Jesus at the baptism and the words of the Father that this is His beloved Son bear witness. Jesus does not relate these points right here. Instead He says, “You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.” — John 5:37–38.

Now, this is a serious lambasting of the Jewish leaders. Despite his opponents’ claim to know God through the Torah, Jesus denies that they truly know God. At Sinai Israel saw the greatness of God’s glory and their ears heard the glory of His voice (Exodus 24:11; Deut. 4:12, 36; 5:24). Thus Jesus denies that those who reject him ever truly accepted the revelation of the Torah at Sinai either. Old Testament figures who heard the voice of God include Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, and Isaiah all “saw” or “heard” God in one sense or another. Though not seeing God directly, Israel received the law at Sinai and accepted it from God’s servant Moses. Therefore Israel claimed to have heard him, seen his form, and had the law abiding in them. Jesus said that none of that is true because they are rejecting Him. Now the Jews are rejecting greater revelation from an even greater Messenger. They do not know God because they do not know Jesus. If God’s word was in them they would have accepted Jesus. [John Bible Study (That You May Believe) by Brent Kercheville.]

The Scriptures’ Witness (vv.45-47). — Jesus refers to the Old Testament writings and says that they bear witness to Him. He agrees that the Old Testament leads to eternal life (cf. 2 Tim. 3:15). He goes on to reveal that this life is in Him, the Author of eternal life. The searching of those who refuse to find Christ in the Scriptures is futile, because it lacks the enlightenment of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6).

Moses the Accuser! (v.45). — Moses will accuse those who do not believe in the Christ, because Moses wrote about Him. Jesus does not refer to any single text in Moses (such as Deut. 18:15), but to what “he wrote” (v. 46) in a general way. This is similar to what Jesus told His disciples after the resurrection on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27, 44–46), as well as to the preaching of the apostles (Acts 3:18; 17:2, 3; 18:28; 26:22, 23; 28:23).

In verses 41-44, Jesus exposes the inconsistency of the people. They will not honour Him, although He comes from God, but highly esteem self-seeking people. Jesus reveals the purpose of the law through Moses, who writes about Jesus. Those who really believe His words will come to Christ. The law is indeed a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.

Jesus has presented the witnesses. Jesus is God according to John’s testimony, His own miraculous works, according to the Father, according to the Scriptures, and according to Moses. We must search all of the scriptures, not just the New Testament, and find Jesus to which all of God’s word pointed. Then with open hearts, as we see the glory of God in the face of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6) — not the glory of people — we will believe in Jesus and put our hope in Him. He is the giver of life. His very words will give life to those who hear Him and obey. Today is the day to accept Jesus as the Lord and submit to His words to receive life.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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