The Four Witnesses of Jesus – John 5:30-47

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Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

October 6, 2013

The Four Witnesses of Jesus

John 5:30-47

Introduction

The most important question anyone will ever face is, “Who is Jesus Christ?” Your answer to that question will have a direct bearing on where you will spend eternity.

Most people will be outwardly respectful of Jesus whether they personally believe in Him or not. Many secular people think of Jesus as one of the great teachers in History or a great ethicist – a teacher of moral values. Others are a bit more spiritual and refer to Him as the founder of a great religion. Some of those influenced by eastern mysticism will sometimes refer to Him as an “ascended master.” Muslims consider Him to be a great prophet. Yet, whatever title or term of respect is applied to Jesus, it must be compared to Jesus’ actual claim for Himself to see how far away they are from the truth.

Jesus is said to be the founder of a great religion, but much of what has occurred in history in the name of Christianity has been contrary to His teaching and example. In addition, Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Jesus did not see Himself as the founder of a new religion, but rather He was calling men to repent from the perversions they had been following and turn back to the proper worship of God in Spirit and truth that had existed from the beginning.

Those who claim that Jesus was good teacher and a great ethicist contradict themselves when they do not believe Jesus’ claims about Himself. A great teacher of moral values would follow his own ethics, and Jesus taught people to be truthful. Jesus either is who He claims to be, or He knew His claims were false, in which case He would be a liar, or thought they were true even though they were actually false, in which case He would be a lunatic. You cannot be a good teacher or a great ethicist if you are a liar or a delusional lunatic.

An “ascended master” is a human who had gone through enough reincarnations to become spiritually enlightened and so transformed. Jesus’ teaching on resurrection is in direct contradiction to the idea of reincarnation. His claim about Himself it to be God who has taken on humanity, not a human who has taken on elements of deity.

The Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, but one superceded by Muhammad. In doing so they must reject Jesus’ claims about Himself and what He did otherwise they have a inferior prophet superceding a superior prophet. Jesus’ claim is to be the Son of God, a worker of miracles over nature, demons, sickness, disease and death, and the direct messenger of God. Muhammed’s claim is only to have received messages from God through an angel. In rejecting Jesus’ claims they make Him into a deceiver and a liar and so also destroy Him as a prophet.

Who is Jesus? What are His claims?

Context (John 5:1-29)

Turn again to John 5 where we will continue our examination of this chapter in which Jesus makes clear claims to be the Son of God and therefore share equality with Him. The conflict with the Jewish religious leaders arose from Jesus healing a man who had been lame for 38 years. Jesus healed the man instantly by simply commanding him to arise, pick up his bed and walk. There was no medication, no therapy and the man did not even know Jesus’ identity. Jesus simply commanded and it was so. Because it was a Sabbath, the Jewish religious leaders became very upset the man was carrying his bedding and breaking their self-imposed man made regulations. When they became aware that Jesus was the one that had healed the man and commanded him to arise, take up his bed and walk, they ignored the miracle of the wonderful healing that had taken place and began to persecute Jesus. Jesus responded in John 5:17, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” They understood clearly that Jesus was not only calling God His own Father, but was also making Himself to be equal with God and so they were seeking to kill Him (John 5:18). (See: Conflict with Traditions)

Last week we examined the escalation of this conflict that was taking place at the pools of Bethesda as Jesus gave His defense and proof that His claim was true. In John 5:19-29 Jesus clarifies and strengthens His claim that He had full authority for what He did because it was the work of God and He is equal with God. (See: Equality with the Father)  Jesus gave the following reasons for this claim in these verses.

1. He only did what He saw the Father doing (vs 19).

2. The Father loves the Him and shows all things to Him (vs 20).

3. He has authority to raise the dead and give life just as the Father (vs 21 & 25-26).

4. All judgment has been given to Him by the Father (22 & 27-29)

5. Those who believe in Him will receive eternal life vs (24 & 29).

This morning we are going to examine John 5:30-47 and the remainder of Jesus’ defense of His claim to be the Son of God. In this section Jesus point to four different witnesses to His claim. It is not enough to make a claim about yourself. There must also be others who will witness to the truth of the claim.

The Humility of the Son (John 5:30-32)

John 5:30-32 transitions from Jesus’ previous argument to the presentation of His four witnesses. In these verses we also find Jesus to be humble and submissive to the Father.

John 5:30I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 31 “If I alone bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true. 32 “There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the testimony which He bears of Me is true.

Jesus had previously been talking about the fact that God had given Him authority to execute judgment because He is the Son of Man (vs. 26) and that judgment included the final judgement at the resurrection. Jesus will be the judge of both those who did good and those who did evil with the corresponding consequences of either a resurrection to life or resurrection to judgment (vs. 29). In verse 30 Jesus claims that this judgment will be a just judgment because it would not be based on His own initiative or will, but on the Father’s.

In a similar manner to His judgment, Jesus’ testimony concerning Himself is not based in Himself alone. Such a testimony would not stand up in a court of law. There would have to be collaborating witnesses. Jesus would make this same point again in John 8:14-18. Jesus’ claims are true because they do not arise from Himself, but from the Father who also bears witness to the truth of the claim. Jesus’ judgment of others and of Himself is based in His submission to the Father’s will. This argument goes back again to His original claim in verses 17 & 19 that Jesus is only doing the Father’s work. In the rest of this chapter, Jesus presents the testimony of four additional witnesses to His claim.

The Witness of John (John 5:33-35)

The witness of
John the Baptist is the first testimony that Jesus points out to them. John 5:33 (NASB)You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 “But the witness which I receive is not from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 “He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

These Jews to whom Jesus was talking with were well aware of John’s ministry and testimony concerning Jesus. They were even willing to accept John’s ministry for a short time. There were large crowds that went out to see and hear John. Matthew 3:5 describes this, Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan. The coming of John had brought some hope. There had not been a prophet for over 400 years. Perhaps John was Elijah, or perhaps the Messiah Himself. There was hope rising that the oppression of Rome could be thrown off and the glory of Israel restored in the near future. But John came preaching repentance of sin and that included the sins of the religious leaders. They soon became antagonistic toward him. The past tense of the verb used here indicates that John was no longer present. Recall that one of the reasons Jesus had returned to Galilee some months earlier was because Herod had arrested John and thrown him in prison. They rejoiced in John’s light only for a short time. It did not take long for them to recoil at the exposure it brought.

Jesus presents to them the witness of John, but John is actually extraneous to Jesus’ demonstrating His claim. Jesus does not need or receive the witness of man. Men are not great witnesses because they often lie and can be fairly easily deceived. You know that by your own experience. Jesus has pointed out the testimony of John for their benefit for Jesus wanted them to be saved. This was testimony they themselves had heard and could still heed. John had pointed out that Jesus is “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

The Witness of Works (John 5:36)

Jesus brings up His second witness in John 5:36 (NASB), “But the witness which I have is greater than [that of] John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.

The witness of Jesus’ works is greater than John because they were of such a nature that they could only have been done by God. We must remember that what seems miraculous to us is not necessarily from God. Satan is a deceiver and has a lot of ability to do what seems like a miracle to us. Jesus even warned us that “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24).

There are no potions, lotions or slight of hand in the miracles of Jesus. They were often done by just the power of His word without even touching anything. Jesus turned the water into wine and did not even touch the jug (John 2- See: The Wedding at Cana). Jesus healed the royal official’s son in Capernaum by pronouncing it though He was still some 16 miles or so away in Cana (John 4:46-54 – See: Miracles and Rejection). The man at Bethesda had been sick for 38 years, but Jesus healed him instantly by commanding him to arise, and the man did not even know Jesus’ identity (See: Conflict with Traditions). Jesus cast out demons by simply commanding them (Luke 4:35). The signs Jesus did during the previous Passover convinced Nicodemus to say, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2 – See: The Love of God). These are miracles which require God’s direct intervention. They bore witness that Jesus had been sent by God the Father.

The Witness of the Father (John 5:37-38)

The third witness was that of God the Father Himself. John 5:37 (NASB) “And the Father who sent Me, He has borne witness of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 And you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.”

Jesus had the Father’s witness to Him constantly present, but there was already a specific event that had occurred when the Father’s witness was audibly given that others could hear. At Jesus’ baptism, the heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended upon Him as a dove and a voice from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).

These Jewish religious leaders were putting themselves in the positions of judging Jesus as if they were the only ones that could speak for God, but in reality these men had never heard God’s voice or seen Him. Jesus was in constant communication with His Father, but they were not even present to hear God’s voice at Jesus’ baptism. They did not have the basis for making such judgements against Jesus. Jesus is even more pointed in stating that they did not have God’s word abiding in them. They were the self-professed keepers and teachers of God’s law, but they rejected the one that God had sent. They could neither recognize God’s hand at work in the miracles Jesus was performing or that the Scriptures pointed to Him as the promised Messiah.

What was true for them is still true today. There are those that claim to speak for God and assure us that they are true to His word, yet, as you listen to what they say, it becomes evident that they have twisted the Scriptures to in order to justify their rejection of Jesus. The Jesus they speak of is a different Jesus than the one of the Bible. I have already pointed out that Jesus is not an “ascended master” and He is much more than just a good teacher, a great ethicist and a prophet. He is the sinless Son of God who both created and holds all things together. He is the redeemer who can forgive people their sins and grant them eternal life and who will judge the unbelieving.

The Jesus of the various cults is also a different Jesus. For example, the Mormon Jesus is son of Elohim and the brother of Lucifer. He is a glorified resurrected man. They teach that you can also become like him and get your own planet. The Jesus of the Jehovah Witnesses is a god, not the God. Their Jesus is a created being instead of being the eternal creator of all things. Other cults are similar in denying certain attributes of Jesus’ deity. Then there are those who make Jesus into a wonderful genie that grants their every wish simply because they have said the magic incantation of “in Jesus name.” Their Jesus exists for their pleasure and not they for His.

When a person, or group, will not believe in the Jesus of the Bible, they will not believe the Bible either. They will distort it to fit what they want to believe. If you do not know the Scriptures yourself, then you are subject to being led astray by such people.

The Witness of the Scriptures (John5:39-47)

The fourth witness Jesus puts forth is that of the Scriptures themselves. John 5:39 (NASB) “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me;40 and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.

They had the very word of God in the Scriptures, but their understanding of them had been perverted to such an extent that they really did not know what they were talking about. Much like an earlier generation during the time of Jeremiah had thought no harm could come to them because the Temple of God was located in their midst, so there was a common belief among the religious leaders, and hen
ce among many common people too, that salvation came from possessing the word of God itself. They had made the Bible a mystical book which would bring life rather than a communication from God on how He would give life.

For example, just a few generations earlier, the famous Rabbi Hillel said in one of his maxims, “More flesh, more worms; More wealth, more care; More maidservants, more lewdness; More menservants, more thieving; More women, more witchcraft; More Torah, more life . . . Whoso hath gained a good name, has gained it for himself. Whoso hath gained the words of the Torah, hath gained for himself life in the world to come.

In short, they believed that they gained eternal life by the study of the Scriptures. Don’t misunderstand me, studying the Bible is a wonderful thing, but the Bible itself will not do much for you unless you heed what is written. There are those today who are “Bible Scholars” in that they study the Bible in the original languages and make careful analysis of the words and grammar used, but in all their study they do not know the message of the book! Most universities have a Religion department of some sort and you will find men and women there who write very technical papers about the Bible, but they do not know the God of the Bible or the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. They study the book, but they do not know its message.

Jesus is very direct with them and tells them that the Scriptures bear witness of Himself. The message of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ, but they were lost in the delivery vehicle and forgot about the purpose of it. That would be like going down to the airport to pick up the king’s ambassador, but when he arrives, you are so enamored with the plane and examining it that you forget about the ambassador. They were extremely diligent in their study of the Scriptures, but they neglected its message.

Because of this neglect of the message God gave them in the Scriptures, they did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah when he came and were therefore unwilling to come to Him to receive life. Let me stress that point. They were unwilling to come. They had the information and the capability, but Jesus did not fit what they wanted so they rejected Him and were therefore unwilling. There are many who are the same way today. They are unwilling to come to Jesus.

In verses 41-44 Jesus points out that despite all their claims to godliness and piety, they actually had no interest in the things of God. He contrasts Himself with them, “I do not receive glory from men; 42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 43 “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another shall come in his own name, you will receive him. 44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and you do not seek the glory that is from the [one and] only God?

These Jewish religious leaders were more concerned about what others thought about them than what God thought about them, and they put a lot of pressure on everyone else to conform to their position. The people were even afraid to “speak openly for Him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13). But regardless of such pressure to conform, the issue is still going to boil down to what you really believe about God. If God really is the most important thing in your life, you will stand up for Him and do what He says regardless of how anyone else responds and what they may do to you.

We must remember that Jesus warned us in John 16:33 that “in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.” Paul is very blunt about this in 2 Timothy 3:12, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Jesus pointed out in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:10-12, “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when [men] cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Fear of what others might think or do should never keep us from living for Christ and speaking up for Him. But these particular Jews did not reject Jesus and become unwilling to come to Him out of fear, but from desire. Our text says they “receive glory from one another” and did not “seek the glory that is from the one and only God” (vs. 44). They wanted to be praised by each other. That is why they would receive others who came in their own name, but not Jesus (vs. 43).

Jesus was not popular with the religious elite. He came in the Father’s name, and like John the Baptist, He called for repentance even from them. He had already exposed their hypocrisy when He had to clear the Temple of the merchants and money changers. The religious elite had allowed God’s house of prayer to become a den of thieves (Luke 19:46). (See: Zeal for the Lord) Yet history shows Jesus’ prophecy concerning them has been fulfilled many times over. Theudas and Judas of Galilee are mentioned in Acts 5:36-37. In A.D 132-135 there was a man named Barkochba that arose that Rabbi Akiba even called “The Star of Jacob” in reference to Numbers 24:17. There have been many since. Not all that many years ago, Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson had been claimed to be the Messiah, but he died in New York City and remains in his grave.

Before we are too hard on these people, we had better look in the mirror and see how easy it is to act the same way. We often look to the “elite” in whatever circles we are in determine what we should accept or reject. This is true even in fundamentalist circles. I often find pastors that tend to accept or reject things based on whatever their favorite Bible teacher or professor said. People often just tend to repeat whatever the pastor says. One of my constant challenges to all of you here is to be Bereans who check out what is said with the Scriptures. I can be wrong and you are responsible to correct me if there is error from what God has said.

None of us should be here to receive the praise of men. We all should be seeking the praise of God and that requires that the message of God in the Scriptures rule us. Jesus did not seek the praise of men for He loved God. That is how we should be. These Jews were the opposite. The sought the praise of men and they did not love God.

The hope of these men was in their study of the Scriptures. They thought that in keeping the Mosaic Law they would gain eternal life, and they had manipulated the Law to the point that they deceived themselves into believing that they were keeping it. Recall the claim of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 who said to Jesus that he had kept the all the law.

Jesus attacks their false hope in verses 45-47, “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in 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?”

The truth of the matter was that despite their claims to be followers of Moses, they did not believe or follow what he had written. Moses pointed to the coming Messiah throughout his books. Jesus is the seed of the woman that would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). He is the seed of Abraham and Isaac by which all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3; 22:18). He is the “Shiloh,” the ruler promised from the line of Judah who would never lose the scepter, the ruler’s staff. Jesus is the star out of Jacob and the Scepter that would rise out of Israel (Numbers 24:17). He is the great prophet of Deuteronomy 18 that God would raise up to speak in His name, and whoeve
r would not listen would be judged by God. There is also all the typology such as the Passover lamb and the Levitical sacrifices looking forward to Jesus’ final sacrifice for sin and Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness.

They had set their hopes in the writings of Moses, but those very writings would condemn them for their unbelief in both Moses and the Messiah. If they would not believe Moses’ writings, how would they ever believe what Jesus was telling them? The final reality was that they only believed what fit into the religious system that they themselves has created. They only believed what they wanted to believe.

Conclusion

As tragic as this is, there are still so many that respond the same way to Jesus today. Often those people will even profess to be Christians. They have created their own system and reject what does not fit it. They have the Bible, and some are even diligent students of it, but they do not heed its message.

Jesus’ claim is to be equal with God the Father because He is God the Son. He backs up that claim with the testimony of four witnesses: John the Baptist, His works, God the Father and the Scriptures. You can believe the witness and Jesus’ claim and receive eternal life, or you can reject them and continue as you are under His condemnation. But be careful that any profession of belief that you make in Jesus is real. Do not be like these Jews and so many others who, at Titus 1:16 states, “They profess to know God, but by [their] deeds they deny [Him], being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed.” How you live your life will demonstrate what you really believe.

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times the word “witness” or “testimony” 2) Discuss with your parents the four witnesses to Christ and what you believe about them.

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is your answer to the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” What is Jesus’ claim to that question? What evidence does Jesus given in John 5 to back up that claim? What can be said of someone that says Jesus is a good man but does not believe Jesus’ claims? Why did the religious leaders only receive John for a while? How do the works/miracles of Jesus demonstrate that He is divine? What about people who do “miracles” today? What was the witness of God the Father concerning Jesus? Why didn’t these Jews receive and accept it? Is there any parallel to these kind of people in our own time? Why do you need to know the Bible for yourself? Why did the Jews “search the Scriptures”? Why didn’t they gain life from their studies? Why did they receive others who came in their own name, but not Jesus? What did they want more than God’s approval? What did Moses write about? Why didn’t they understand what Moses had written? On what basis will God judge them? On what basis will God judge you? What is the evidence of true belief in Jesus?

Sermon Notes – 10/6/2013

The Four Witnesses of Jesus – John 5:30-47

Introduction

Founder of a great _________? Much of Christianity does not follow Jesus’ teaching or example. Matt. 5:17

A good teacher and ethicist? Yes, but if His claims are _____then He was either a liar or a delusional lunatic

An “Ascended Master”? Jesus claims to be _____who became man, not a man who took on aspects of deity

A prophet? Yes, but the _________One receiving revelation directly from God and working divine miracles

ContextJohn 5:1-29

Jesus’ healing of a lame man on the _____________ resulted in conflict with the Jewish religious leaders

John 5:17-18, Jesus claimed to be doing God’s Son doing ___________ work and they understood the claim

John 5:19-29, Jesus gave the following reasons for His claim

1. He __________________ did what He saw the Father doing (vs 19).

2. The Father loves the Him and shows all things to Him (vs 20).

3. He has authority to raise the dead and give life just as the Father (vs 21 & 25-26).

4. All ________________ has been given to Him by the Father (vs 22 & 27-29)

5. Those who believe in Him will receive eternal life vs (24 & 29).

The Humility of the Son (John 5:30-32)

Jesus’ judgments are just because they are based in the ______________ initiative and will (vs. 30)

Jesus’ claims are true because there are ____________ that bear witness to His testimony (vs. 32)

The Witness of John (John 5:33-35)

They ________the witness of John the Baptist for a short time, but became antagonistic by his call to repent

Jesus pointed out John’s testimony for their _______________because He wanted them to be saved (vs 34)

The Witness of Works (John 5:36)

Jesus’ working of miracles were of such a nature that they could ___________ have been done by God

Jesus did miracles simply by the power of His _____: turning water into wine, casting out demons, healings

The Witness of the Father (John 5:37-38)

Jesus was in constant _______________with His Father and an audible testimony was given at His baptism

These men wanted to judge Jesus, but they had ______________ heard God’s voice or seen Him

They were self-professed _______________ of God’s law, but they could not recognize God’s hand at work

Those who _____________ the Scriptures have a different Jesus than the one of the Bible

The Mormon Jesus is a glorified resurrected man who is the brother of _______________

The Jesus of the Jehovah Witnesses is a god who is a _____________ being

Others make Jesus into a _____________ that grants their wishes according to their pleasure

Those who do not believe the _____________ of the Bible will not believe the Bible either

The Witness of the Scriptures (John5:39-47)

They had perverted the Scriptures making them into a mystical __________ that would give life

How tragic to be a “Bible Scholar” and yet know / believe the ______________ of the Book

Because they neglected the message of the Scripture, they were ________to recognize / receive the Messiah

Vs. 41-44, They were more concerned about pleasing _____________ that pleasing God

Believers will be ________________ : John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12; Matthew 5:10-12

They wanted the praise of ______________ more than the praise of God

Though it is easy to be swayed by those in your circle of friends, you must be a _________and seek the truth
Vs 45-47, They claimed to follow Moses, but did not _________ what he had written

Jesus is the seed of the woman that would ____________ the serpent’s head – Genesis 3:15

Jesus is the seed of Abraham & Isaac through whom all the earth would be ______- Genesis 12:3; 22:18

Jesus is the ___________ out of Jacob and Scepter out of Israel – Numbers 24:17

Jesus is the great ____________ God would raise up to speak His name and to judge – Deuteronomy 18

Jesus fulfills the _______of the Passover Lamb, the Levitical sacrifices and Moses lifting up the serpent

They rejected the truth in order to believe what they _____________ – most people are the same way today

Conclusion

Jesus’ claim is to be _____________ with the Father because He is His Son – verified by four witnesses

You can believe His claim and receive eternal life – or reject His claim and remain under His condemnation

Titus 1:16 – how you __________ your life will demonstrate what you really believe


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