John 5:31-34 (NIV) 31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. 33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved.
On verses 31-34: The Jewish law provided that claims that people in court should be established by two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16). Knowing this, to back up his claims about him being the Son of God, he cites John the Baptist as one of his witnesses. He does this not because he personally feels any need for a human witness (“Not that I accept human testimony” – v34a) but to address questions people may have about Jesus’ credibility (“but I mention it that you may be saved” – v34b). John the Baptist was one of Israel’s most respected leaders and thus his testimony about Jesus gave weight to Jesus’ claims.
What can we learn from this? When, like John the Baptist, you live a life that others can admire and respect, your good reputation lends credibility to your words. People will be more open to what you have to say. Conversely, if you have a bad reputation, people will have trouble believing you, even if you are right.
John 5:35-36 (NIV) 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. 36 “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.
On verses 35-36: A second “witness” that Jesus cites to back up his claim that he is the Son of God is the miraculous works Jesus was doing. The body of miracles that Jesus was performing – “the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing” – “testifies that the Father has sent” (v36) Jesus.
What can we learn from this? Jesus’ own actions supported his claims as the Son of God. Similarly, may your actions – not just your words – speak to others about who Jesus is.
John 5:37-38 (NIV) 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
On verses 37-38: A third witness Jesus cites to back up his claims as the Son of God is God the Father. In verse 37 Jesus says, “the Father who has sent me has himself testified concerning me” (v37). However, Jesus acknowledges that the people’s ability to hear the Father’s testimony about Jesus is blocked by their unbelief. As verses 37-38 say, “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”. This suggests to me that if you want to see God and hear God’s voice, it begins with having faith, believing in Jesus.
John 5:39-40 (NIV) 39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
On verses 39-40: Jesus cites a fourth witness that testifies about Jesus being the Son of God. That fourth witness is the Scriptures. Jesus says that the Scriptures “testify about me” (v39). One of the big themes in John is that the Old Testament points to Jesus the Messiah and the Son of God. These verses also show us that studying the Bible by itself does not give you eternal life. As Jesus says in verse 39, “you diligently study the Scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life”. Rather, while the Scriptures help us to know who Jesus is, it’s in coming to Jesus with faith that we receive life (“yet you refuse to come to me to have life” – v40).
Lord Jesus, thank You that John the Baptist, your powerful works, God the Father, and Scripture all testify about who You are: the Son of God. May I join this quartet of witnesses and be a witness who, through my actions and words, testifies to others of who you are and the difference you make. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!