THE FOURFOLD WITNESS
THE ACCEPTANCE OF JESUS AS THE CHRIST, THE ONE SENT FROM GOD IN HEAVEN, CHALLENGES THE MIND OF ANY HUMAN BEING. WE DO NOT THINK THAT THERE IS SOMEONE THAT TRANSCENDS THE EARTHLY CONDITION. OUR THINKING IS THAT WE ARE ALL FROM THIS WORLD AND MANY ARE TRYING TO FOOL US INTO THINKING THAT THEY ARE SOMEHOW SPECIAL, SPECIALLY APPOINTED FROM ABOVE, SO THAT THEY CAN MANIPULATE US, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF US AND BENEFIT MATERIALLY FROM US. IN FACT, WE THINK THAT THIS IS THEIR ULTIMATE GOAL, GET MONEY FROM US. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, JESUS KNOWS THAT THIS IS A CHALLENGE TO ALL OF US, AND HE OFFERS FOURFOLD PROOF OF HIS DIVINE ORIGIN.
THE BIBLE NEVER ASKS THAT WE BLINDFULLY BELIEVE IN ITS PROPOSITIONS. THE BIBLE ALWAYS PROVIDES EVIDENCE FOR BELIEF IN ITS ASSERTIONS. NOT BELIEVING IN THE BIBLE IS A REJECTION OF THE TRUTH RATHER THAN THE REJECTION OF A FALSE PREMISE. WE ARE INVITED BY GOD TO PROVE HIS OFFERING, TO REASON IT, AND THEN ACCEPT IT. THE BIBLE THEN ASSERTS THAT NOT BELIEVING IN WHAT IT OFFERS IS FOOLISH. IN FACT, TO REJECT ITS TRUTH IS TO REJECT THE TRUTH. ITS CONSEQUENCES ARE ETERNALLY FATAL.
THE FOURFOLD WITNESS
31 “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not [e]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; forthe 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?”
God has never expected us to believe blindly in His word. God has always provided evidence to His truth. Jesus is announcing Himself as the Son of God, the Messiah, the One sent from God, the One through Whom we can come to God, there is none other who can do this for us. This is indeed a lot to be asking of any human being to believe. For that reason, Jesus provides four sources that witness of His divine origin, call and purpose.
Number one in the list is God Himself.
32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true.
God used prophets in the past to make the promise of the Messiah, His earthly origins, from the house of Judah, from the kingly family of David, born in Bethlehem. In these prophecies God laid out the purpose of the Messiah, the character of the Messiah and His ultimate goal. All of this was done, so that when the Messiah appeared, the Jewish people would not be in the dark as to who He was and why He had come.
Second, John the Baptist was the present prophet God used to announce the Messiah’s arrival.
33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.
Jesus did not bring witness to Himself, but John came before Him attesting that Jesus was the one sent from God, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
John the Baptist was recognized by all as a prophet of God. He carried God’s message to the Jews. The message was, get ready because the Messiah is coming. I am not the Messiah. I am here to point the Messiah to you. Jesus reminds the Jews and us that it was God’s prophet, by the will of God that pointed Him out as the one sent from God. John the Baptist gave witness to Jesus’ origin, mission and identity. Jesus did not testify of Himself, John the Baptist did.
Third, the works of Jesus, were hard to ignore.
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.
Word of Jesus’ works spread throughout the land. His teachings of God’s word and the wonders he performed were portentous, great in number, the wisdom of His speech, the way He managed the challenges of the religious academics, the manner in which He dealt with the Romans, His heart, compassion and mercy towards the crowds and individuals. It was a sight to see. No particular religious leader, prophet or king had managed to do or be as Jesus was. Jesus stood out, above the crowd, above the average, above the top class of humanity. His works distinguished Him from all. He was in a separate class. He healed the sick, He comfort the afflicted, He called the sinner to repentance, He gave sight to the blind, nature obeyed His commands, He cast out demons, He defeated Satan’s temptations, He raised the dead. One had to be dead not to notice His works; and even the dead knew of Him as he rose many from the dead. Jesus’ works gave witness to His credentials; He is the Messiah.
Fourth, is similar to the first but it is different in that it refers to the practice of righteous living, familiarity with God, God’s voice and living by the will of God.
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.
Does Jesus mean having physically heard God’s voice or having seen God’s face? No, not physically, Jesus means that for as much as the Jews had been to synagogue, temple and participated in the reading and meditation of Scripture, they had no affinity for the word of God or for His ways. The way of God’s holiness was not the way of the Jews. They loved the appearance of the “people of God” but they did not practice the way of the people of God. They could not. They liked appearances over truth. Please let me explain, this is not a condition limited to the Jews, or to a particular Christian denomination, this a condition that afflicts all humans. Particularly those that for some reason or another feel they have to be religious. It is an affliction of the religious crowd. They gravitate to the least possible way of living religiously, that is appearances. But also, the non-religious gravitate to appearances. Analyze any of these environmental, socialist, animal, etcetera activist movements. Their members in great numbers want to have the appearance of doing good but in practice it is only the appearance. Few are the ones that truly are interested in the environment, their neighbor’s welfare or the animals. Their interest is in appearing to be the most righteous amongst a movement.
Jesus chastises the Jews because they have never practiced God’s righteousness; therefore, they do not know Him. If God were to be facing them, as He was, they could not distinguish Him from an ordinary human being, and that was the case. The voice of God they could not recognize from the pages of Scripture or from the voices of the prophets or from the voice of Jesus.
That brings us to Jesus final conclusion:
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.
You do not love God and therefore you will not accept me as the Messiah. In order for anyone to receive Jesus as the Christ, they must have a love for God. If you do not love God, how can you love Jesus; they are one and the same. You must love the word of God, the ways of God, the practice of holiness. That is how the true believers are defined. Those who have heard God, hearing Jesus find Him to be the one sent from God. More simply, if you love sin, the world and the passions of the flesh more than God then you will not hear Jesus voice calling you to repentance. But if living in sin, in the current of the world and in the passions of your flesh, you have disdain for the world, the flesh and your passions, then you know that you were not created for these things. You search to break their bondage over you. Although you are in it you are not a creature of sin. Then having heard the voice of Jesus, the voice of God through His Son, you leap to attention. Everything else fades. The world loses its shine, the flesh is defeated, and the passions are conquered. We then surrender to the call to righteousness, to the call of repentance. We turn around and we follow the Messiah to the Father.