Mar 1, 2022
Jesus has stated that He is God – now hear the evidence and witnesses that support His claim! (John 5:31-47)
Let’s get into our study, shall we? We are currently walking through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…and in the last couple of weeks we have been focused on John chapter 5. At the beginning of the chapter, we saw Jesus bring healing to a disabled man who didn’t even think it was possible that he be healed. In this, Jesus showcased His grace and power – He is so much more than we deserve! And then, last week, we studied as Jesus followed up that healing by making a claim that set Him on the trajectory of His own crucifixion – Jesus stated His own deity in no uncertain terms. He claimed Himself equal with God, one with God, the giver of all life, the judge, and the one who can grant eternal life with God the Father. That’s a big claim! Remember, this was on the Sabbath, in the Temple. Talk about an enlightening sermon! But who was this Jesus – and why should anyone believe His claims?
Today, as we study John 5:31-47, Jesus gives His closing arguments, telling His listeners, and us, WHY we should believe Him. Why He is the real deal. Why His teaching is not “fake news” – but something more real than anything any of us have ever experienced. And…if we read between the lines, we will begin to understand HOW we CAN believe, even when those doubts creep in.
Before we begin…let’s do the REAL work of a Bible scholar, and pray…
Dear Most Holy God…we come to you today in humble submission, asking you to enlighten our hearts as we read your Word. God, you knew when these words were written, inspired by your Spirit, that we would be reading them today – and in these words you have a purpose and truth that you want each of us to see. Open our eyes that we might see, open our ears that we might hear, and soften our Spirits in humble submission that we might grow. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Jesus opens His closing arguments in John 5:31, where He states as recorded in the New Living Translation…
31 “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid.
As believers, this statement might throw us off…after all, if we can’t believe Jesus, who can we believe? But remember, Jesus is stating the arguments for the case that He is Lord and Savior .. .and He is likely addressing many who DON’T believe. So He had to ground His claims in logic and facts. The “why” of faith is REAL – it is not some ethereal, mystical reasoning. True faith is grounded in facts, science, logic, and sound reasoning.
And because Jewish tradition said that “None may be believed when he testifies of himself” and “No individual can be deemed trustworthy in himself” (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Commentary, Vol. 2, p 60) – in order to make His case, Jesus stated that of His own accord, His testimony is not valid…BUT, He continued…the evidence is still clear…and he states an opening overview…verse 32…
32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true.
This “someone” who was testifying about Jesus, was God. Jesus pulled out the big guns right off the bat…and then He backs up His statement, saying that God has testified to the deity of Christ by many means… verse 33…
33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34 Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. 35 John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message.
John the Baptist was God’s witness to the world of Jesus’ deity. John had a great following. He was the lamp, sent by God to shine the light on the Messiah. John the Baptist said, as is recorded in John 3:23 “You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’”
This evidence of John’s testimony might have swayed some of Jesus’ listeners…but this was basic information…so Jesus builds His case in verse 36…
36 But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.
By now, many had seen the signs and miracles of Jesus…He had turned water into wine, showcasing His creative power and His care for His children as He brought joy to the wedding feast. He had calmed the sea, demonstrating His sovereignty over nature. He had healed many proving that He is the giver of life. He had driven out demons, proving that even evil listened to Him.
You see, Jesus’ signs and miracles are meant for more than the face value of the individual miracle, their purpose is to point all to the glory of God. That is no different today! There are miracles happening every single day in our world that many of us degrade to coincidence or happenstance. Will you ask God today to open your eyes to the miracles around you?
You see, the undertone of today’s lesson is letting go of our pride and strongholds so that we can experience, through consideration and wonder, the reality of Jesus Himself. It is SO easy to assume we know it all! It is in our nature to want to figure things out and, thereby, be able to control them. But the wonder of God is so much more than our human minds can comprehend. We just have to let go of our pride to see the wonder of the reality of Jesus.
How many times have you prayed to get over an illness, and you do, and then you forget all about your prayer…and figure your body or the medicine was just doing its job? If we open our eyes, we WILL see God’s hand at work all around us! In Ukraine, Russian vehicles are running out of gas! THAT is a miracle! Every day, young children are being saved from human trafficking – THAT is a miracle! Get in the habit of noticing the wonder of God’s miracles. And get in the habit of thanking Him. Because THAT is what His miracles are all about…pointing us to God and bringing us into closer communication with Him!
Jesus’ miracles testify to who He is and point us all to God…if we choose to notice.
But not only did John the Baptist and Jesus’ own miracles substantiate Jesus’ claim as God…Verse 37…
37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself.
Likely Jesus is talking about God’s audible voice claiming Jesus as His Son at Jesus’ baptism…but Jesus tells His listeners that they must listen and look for God’s voice…He continues…
You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me—the one he sent to you.
And this next one must have stung…
39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.
The Pharisees and the Jews prided themselves in knowing every word of scripture, yet they couldn’t see the forest for the trees…they couldn’t see that ALL scripture was meant to point us to Jesus as Lord and Savior. Simply put, their pride blinded them. They refused to read and study in humble submission, looking for the wonder of God.
What about you? When you read scripture that stings, when God calls out a fault in you, do you turn away and dismiss His guidance? You, Bible scholar, are called to read and study scripture with an open and contrite heart, asking God to shine you up so you can more accurately reflect His glory and then YOU can point others to Him.
Jesus tells His stubborn listeners, beginning in verse 41…
41 “Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God
Let me ask you one of those hard questions…Where does your honor really lie? Do you truly honor Jesus as your LORD – the one to whom you bow? Or do you honor things of this world. It is easy to stand for good against evil …until evil tries to push you down, or offer you fame or fortune.
Well, then Jesus puts a final exclamation mark on why they should believe that He is Lord by bringing another witness to the table…one that His direct listeners would have understood better in that day than we do today…Moses. See, many saw Moses as their pathway to God…HE was the one who had direct communication with God, and even after His death, many claimed Moses as their intercessor…but Jesus declares Moses as His witness…verse 45…
45 “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. 46 If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”
We CAN believe that Jesus is God! Not just because He says so, but because we have concrete evidence.
John the Baptist was sent to pave the path for the Messiah…and He paved the path to Jesus. We just have to logically connect the dots.
Jesus’ teachings and miracles are infused with the power of God. We just have to take our blinders off and wonder at the miracles that are right in front of us.
God Himself SPOKE audible words claiming Jesus as His Son. We just have to listen.
Scripture testifies and points us to the deity of Christ. We just have to humble ourselves and consider the fact that God’s Word is truth.
Moses and the prophets all give undeniable prophecies fulfilled only by Jesus Christ Himself. And yes…if we discipline ourselves to daily Bible study…we will begin to be amazed by those prophesies that turned to truth!
When we seek to know God through prayer, He will always guide us into Jesus arms. But we have to be willing to be embraced.
And there is more…this was all just a precursor to the big closing argument…Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, where He now sits at the Father’s right hand. History doesn’t deny that Jesus was killed, or that His tomb was empty. And hundreds saw the risen Christ and gave their testimony - many even lost their lives rather than changing the facts of their story. Our faith is not built on the ethereal, it is built on facts and logic and expert witnesses.
Oh…the devil will always give us excuses and reasons NOT to believe…but the facts simply cannot be denied. And God will remind us of these facts as we return to Him again and again through prayer and Scripture.
I rest my case.
Dear Most Holy and Gracious God…thank you for never giving up on us - for showing us again and again that you are Lord. Open our eyes so that we simply can’t deny your signs, miracles, wonders, prophecies, and blessings! We praise and bless your name. Thank you teaching us today that we may better reflect your glory – and give each of us today the opportunity to shine for and be a testimony to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.