Starting in verse 17 till verse 47, is a long discourse in which Jesus declares His deity. This is frankly the whole point of the gospel of John. These are written, John says, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you might have life in His name. That’s John’s own statement of why he wrote the gospel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
We also know that while our Lord is declaring His deity and proving His deity, and demonstrating His deity, making the I AM claims, the response is unbelief all the way through. Until the final end when this unbelief reaches its climactic point and they execute Him as a deceiver and an agent of Satan. So parallel to this demonstration of the deity of Jesus Christ is the increasing hostility of the people.
There are continual references to their unbelief, and the reasons for their unbelief. And frankly unbelief is not isolated to the Jewish people, but they are a general diagnosis of the human race and the human condition. We learn that Jesus is the Son of God, and He is the only hope of salvation. We also learn how sinners respond to that truth even when it’s demonstrated beyond doubt.
The reason is, because they are unwilling to accept the truth. That comes out in the section we’re going to look at this evening. So let us start with John 5:30-37, “I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. 31 “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid.”
“32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. 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.”
“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. 37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. 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.”
This is the biblical doctrine when it comes to humanity. The unwillingness of the sinner to believe the truth even when faced with it. We know the Bible says that the unregenerate man is unable, that he is dead, that he is blind by the Fall, that he is blinded by his sin, that he is blinded by Satan and that he may even be judicially blinded by God who does not allow him to see.
In John 8:43-44, Jesus says, “Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
They would not believe, Isaiah 53, so they could not believe, Isaiah 6. This is the issue with all fallen human beings. They are so profoundly under the power of the prince of the air, so much do they belong to the kingdom of darkness, and so captive are they to their father, the devil, that they don’t believe because they will not believe. That is the first principle of gospel theology.
So how does God change that unwillingness? Because the Old Testament says that the sinner can be made willing in the day of His power. They’re not just unwilling, they are also hostile. So this is not a kind of an indifferent unwillingness, this is an aggressively hostile unwillingness. Unbelief is never due to a lack of evidence. Nothing in the Bible holds God responsible for people’s unbelief.
So what does the sinner do? When the sinner is convicted of sin and exposed to the truth, the sinner has one option and that is to cry out to God to plead for faith to believe which is a gift from God, not of works. The sinner’s only hope is to cry out to God in penitence and fear and desire for holiness in heaven and ask God to grant a willingness to an otherwise unwilling heart.
There’s no middle ground with Jesus, you either accept Him as the Son of God, the Savior, the Lord, or you reject Him. There’s no middle ground. Jesus said, “He that is not with Me is against Me.” You can’t take a neutral position toward Jesus. You can’t take an indifferent posture toward Jesus. You confess Him as Lord and God, or you’re against Him and He is against you.
Now in John 5 Jesus went to the pool of Bethsaida, where there were a lot of people who were sick who were hoping to be healed. This lame man had been there 38 years, so Jesus heals the man, tells him to roll up his mat and go home. The Jews are very angry because Jesus had violated their Sabbath rules. You cannot carry your bed on the Sabbath. Maybe you cannot be healed on the Sabbath.
Instead of backing off and trying to mitigate their hostility on that issue, Jesus elevates it by saying, “I’ll do anything I want on the Sabbath because I’m God.” That starts in verse 17 and goes till verse 29. All of that is an amazing statement by Jesus that He is equal to God and therefore is God and they understood it because in verse 18 they confessed that. That’s the ultimate blasphemy.
Jesus raises the confrontation over the Sabbath to a Christological issue, to a discussion about His identity. And what He says in verse 17 to verse 29, is that He is equal to God in essence or nature, He is equal to God in works, He does the same things that God does, the same way that God does them. Jesus says, I am equal to God in power, I have the power to give life.
I’m equal to God in authority. I rendered final judgment on everyone. I’m equal to God in truth. I am equal to God because everything I say and everything God says are equally true. In every sense Jesus claims to be equal to God. And then that amazing statement in verse 23, “Since all of that is true, I deserve equal worship. And if you don’t honor Me, you don’t honor God.”
Now if somebody said that to you, some would say, “We need testimony from other sources.” And that’s what comes in verses 30 and following. Here Jesus calls another witness to give testimony about Jesus, namely God the Father. He is the one they will say they worship. He is the one they will say they know, even though they don’t. He is the one they declare to be their God.
So let’s go to the highest possible standard of testimony, the one and only true God. And that’s exactly what Jesus does. So from verse 30 to verse 40, Jesus calls on God the Father to back up His testimony. Jesus starts out by introducing His relationship to the Father in verse 30, which is a summary of everything He said from 17 to 29, “I can do nothing on My own, I judge as God tells Me.”
Again Jesus reiterates the claim that infuriated them and caused them to accuse Him of blasphemy. He says, “I’m equal to God. I do not do anything on My own initiative. I don’t act independently of God. I only do what God does the way God does.” And again He starts out by saying, “I am one with the one who sent Me, God.” He always glorified God by acting in perfect unity with God.
So, He will now call on God to be His testimony. Let’s hear from God, and we’re going to do that. But before we do that, notice that Jesus shifts into the first person, John 5:31-37, “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. 32 But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true.”
“33 In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. 34 But, 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.” Starting in verse 17 Jesus talked in the third person, talked about the Son of Man, the Son of God.
He kept a kind of distance by using the third person. Now Jesus has elevated this proclamation to a level where He speaks in the first person, not distancing Himself at all. Another point to make, “As I hear, I judge,” doesn’t mean that He has real ears. That’s anthropomorphic. We understand that you absorb things when you hear and see things. But God is a Spirit eternally before the incarnation.
All this means is whatever is the Father’s will that I perceive in My divine mind is what I do. Each member has full knowledge of all the knowledge that is contained within the Trinity. Now verse 31 says, “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid.” Because Deuteronomy 19:15 says, “That everything has to be confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses.”
However in John 8:12, “Jesus again said, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.’ 13 So the Pharisees said to Him, ’You are testifying about Yourself, Such testimony is not valid.’ Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony IS true for I know where I came from and where I’m going, but you don’t know this about me.”
So Jesus calls on the Father who would be the purest, truest of all and let Him give a three-fold testimony just to fulfill the requirement of the Old Testament. Jesus introduces Him in verse 32, “But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything He says about me is true.” What is the Father’s testimony? All in verses 33 to 39 is all the Father’s testimony.
But it comes in three forms. First it comes through John the Baptist, then it comes through the miracles of Jesus, then it comes through the Scripture. But it’s all the Father’s testimony. This is different from the baptism of Jesus by John and the Transfiguration where only a few people witnessed it. So Jesus is not appealing to something that was audibly said by God the Father.
The testimony of the Father comes through John the Baptist, through the miracles of Jesus, and through the Scripture. And think of these as having an increasingly bigger impact. The testimony of John is great. The testimony of the miracles is greater, and that’s what Jesus calls it in verse 36. But the testimony of Scripture is the greatest. So Jesus moves through these dimensions of the Father’s testimony.
Verse 33, “In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true.” John was the first prophet in 400 years. John was preaching and baptizing and preparing people for the arrival of Messiah. He did no miracles but he was clearly a fulfillment of the Old Testament, a voice crying out in the wilderness, make straight the path for the Lord.
Verses 34-35, “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.” He’s not the light, Christ is the light, but John is the lamp. But he is a burning and shining lamp. So this is our Lord’s way of the fact that they saw John as unique, a remarkable tribute.
Jesus says that the testimony received from John the Baptist doesn’t have a human source. John the Baptist is the first one to give testimony about Me and he is a prophet of God. It was God the Father who sends the angel Gabriel to a barren couple in their eighties, Zacharias and Elizabeth. So he’s a miracle child. The Father plants the Holy Spirit in the child in the womb of Elizabeth.
And his testimony was regarding salvation. What did John say? “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Salvation was his message. In fact, Zacharias understood that. Luke 1:76-77, “You, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High. You will go before the Lord to prepare His ways, to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.”
So this is the first of the Father’s three testimonies. The second line of the Father’s testimony is all contained in verse 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.” Isn’t it obvious the Father sent Me? Didn’t Nicodemus say nobody can do what You do unless God is with him?
They saw His signs, talking about miracles. In John 10:25 Jesus says, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.” Why? Because He only did what the Father willed Him to do. John 14:11, “Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe Me because of the work you have seen Me do.”
And now the greatest of all evidences, the testimony of Scripture. And that’s the theme starting at verse 37 and following. So severe is their rejection of Scripture, look at verse 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; for He wrote about Me.” Let us study the proof of Scripture next time. Let us pray.