John 5: 31 – 47 Testimonies about Jesus
‘If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true.
I think, in view of what comes later in this passage, that Jesus means that if he were claiming credit for his actions, then such claims would not be true. But he’s not claiming credit; he is exclusively focused on doing the Father’s will.
There is another who testifies in my favour, and I know that his testimony about me is true.
The one who testifies for Jesus is the Father.
‘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.
Jesus refers his accusers to John the Baptist. These words suggest that some at least of the Jewish leaders must have endorsed the ministry of John the Baptist.
He tells them that he is not relying on this human testimony, but pointing them to it so that they may be saved. As he did with Nicodemus, as he did with the Samaritan woman, Jesus takes pains to present his message in a way that the listener to whom he is speaking will best understand.
‘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.
In John 5: 1 – 15, we have read that Jesus healed a man by telling him to pick up his mat and walk. Because this was on a Sabbath, the Jewish leaders attacked Jesus. Jesus says that this work (and others implied by Jesus’ words) was testimony that the Father had sent him. In other words, performing miracles showed that the Father had sent him.
But it’s important to remember that healing was not the whole of Jesus’ ministry. He was sent to save the world (John 3: 17). Jesus is claiming here that the miracles show not just that he was sent by God but that he was the Son of God (see John 5: 19 – 30)
And the Father who sent me has 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 study the scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
Here, Jesus is talking of the many prophecies about the Messiah in the Jewish scriptures (our Old Testament). He’s saying that although his accusers study the scriptures diligently, they haven’t accepted him. The prophecies are testimony by God to Jesus’ life and works
‘I do not accept glory from human beings, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 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. How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
Jesus now contrasts his truth with the Jewish leaders’ hypocrisy. He points out that what they’re really interested in is human glory. Unlike him, they don’t have the love of God in their hearts. This desire for human glory blinds them to the truth.
‘But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?’
Jesus now makes it plain that they are completely mistaken. They have placed their hopes in Moses, and Moses prophesied about Jesus. Jesus won’t accuse them before the Father; their accuser will be Moses.
The prophesy of Moses is in Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 19
‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see his great fire any more, or we will die.’
The Lord said to me: ‘What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.’
In its essence, the words in bold face are the message that Jesus has spoken to Nicodemus, and now to the Jewish leaders. Surely they must have recognised it?