John 5:31-40 (NIV): “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
In Jewish law, no single witness was considered sufficient to establish a fact. And, for a fact as significant as whether someone was the Messiah, that person’s own testimony was not necessarily considered to be one of the “two or more witnesses” needed to corroborate something as true. But Jesus had the required two witnesses, even though His accusers had disregarded one, and were deaf and blind to the other.
Jesus’ first witness was John the Baptist. John had been sent to baptize, and to prepare the hearts of the people for the coming of the Messiah. He testified that Jesus was the One whose coming had been foretold, and who had existed before Him, even though He had been born after him (John 1:15). And he clearly testified that Jesus was both the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and that He was the very Son of God (John 1:29-34).
But Jesus had another witness – one whose word could never be doubted: God Himself. God testified about Jesus’ identity in three different ways:
- The miracles and teachings that He had empowered Jesus to do. It had been long centuries since the people had seen any miracles at all. But here came Jesus, doing undeniable miracles: healing the sick, sometimes dozens at a time; casting out demons with a word; even raising the dead. Elijah and Elisha had been empowered to do miracles long before Jesus’ day, but Jesus often did more miracles in a single day than both of these did in their combined lifetimes! The miracles, including the most recent, healing a 38-year invalid, should have been enough to persuade these Jewish leaders about who Jesus was, but they blew past the reality of the miracles to argue about the philosophy of them – how and when Jesus chose to heal.
- God’s word to the hearts of people. Many had heard the voice of God identifying Jesus as the Messiah, such as Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-28), and even Simon Peter (Mark 8:27-30). These were ones who had eyes to see, and who had not allowed themselves to become so blinded by their current worldview that they couldn’t see what was right in front of them. The teachers of the law wrote off the people who believed in Jesus as ignorant (cf. John 7:45-49). But in reality, they were merely responsive to God’s voice speaking the truth to their hearts.
- The Scriptures. Laced all throughout the very Scriptures that these Jewish leaders pored over so assiduously were the prophecies that clearly painted who the Messiah would be and what He would do – a pattern fulfilled to the letter by Jesus. But these leaders were blinded to the real meaning of these verses by their worldview, which acted as filtering lenses as they read the Scriptures. Using their worldview as unconscious filters, and resisting the light that God was trying to bring to them, they saw some things quite clearly, while being completely blind to other things. If they had been willing to set aside the teachings of their rabbis for a moment, and allow God to show them what He had caused to be clearly written in the very words that they believed would give them eternal life, they would have been able to see Jesus for who He truly was, and would have been the first to offer Him their allegiance.
It is not that Jesus’ testimony had to stand alone at all. There were many witnesses, God among them. (And, of courses, as a witness God CAN stand alone!) The point was, the Jewish leaders and teachers were so blinded by their worldview and philosophy that they were unwilling to receive as reliable ANY witness that seemed to go against what they already believed to be true.
Father, even as Your people we are not immune to this same kind of blindness. Your word is truth always. But we can end up reading it in ways that twist it to support our own ideas and agendas, so that Your voice in it gets lost in the roar of our own opinions. Open our eyes, Lord. Unstop our ears, and unseal our minds and thoughts, so that we can hear You clearly. Amen.