John 5:31-47. Reliable Testimony.

John 5:31    “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favour, and I know that his testimony about me is true.

33    “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.

36    “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

41    “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

45    “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

This dispute with the Pharisees concludes with a weighing of the testimony in support of Jesus. How can they (and the reader) know that Jesus speaks the truth concerning his own person, his identity and mission? The testimony of two witnesses was required to establish the truth (see Deut 19:15).

John the Baptist, universally recognised as a prophet, has clearly testified that Jesus is ‘the One’. In particular, this gospel has recorded the Baptist’s testimony that:

  • Jesus surpasses John in stature and honour because he was before him (Jn 1:15).
  • John is sent to make preparations for the arrival of ‘the Lord’ (Jn 1:23). This arrival of ‘the Lord’, God himself, is foretold by Isaiah 40:1-5.
  • Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29).
  • The Spirit of God has come down from heaven and remained on Jesus (Jn 1:32).
  • Jesus is the Son of God (Jn 1:34).

But, says Jesus in verse 36, he has a testimony with more weight, more credibility, that John. The ‘signs’ and ‘works’ that Jesus has been doing demonstrate God’s own power and authority (see also Jn 5:20, 14:11-12, 15:24). These affirm that Jesus is sent from God, exercising his authority, and in closest relationship wth him.

But wait, there is more! The scriptures themselves also testify to Jesus (v39). While Jesus does not elaborate further here, at other times he explained how all the Old Testament spoke concerning him. For example, see Luke 24:27,44, Acts 13:27.

So Jesus has no need of human testimony (of which the Pharisees are so fond) because God himself testifies to him– through his signs, his works, and the scriptures. There is weighty testimony in abundance. But the Pharisees’ refusal to believe this testimony places them in the dock (not Jesus). They are under searching examination for failing to believe all that Jesus has said and done. Indeed, Moses himself will accuse them of unbelief and apostasy (v45-47).

Lord, please grow my trust in you. May I learn to view you truly– rather than through my limited human perspective. Amen.