Sermon on John 5:30-47 — “Multiple Witnesses to the Testimony of Jesus”

September 8, 2019 at First Presbyterian Church of Unionville, NY (BPC)

Sermon Text:

[Jhn 5:30-47 ESV] 30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

INTRODUCTION

You’ve heard people say, “I would believe in God if He gave enough evidence to me.” [REPEAT: “I would believe in God if He gave enough evidence to me.”]

Other say, “You must prove the existence of God before I will believe Him.”

We might ask, “On what basis do you suggest that I attempt to prove the existence of God?” What is greater or surer than God Himself? The Bible NEVER seeks to prove God’s existence, it always ASSUMES it. [REPEAT: The Bible always assumes the existence of God.] This is the truth which is not proven from some other truth, but is fundamental. The Lord God reigns. He is at the base of all things, the creator of the whole world, and of each and every one of us.

And so—rightly so—none of the Bible writers ever set out on such a foolish attempt as proving the existence of God; proving that which ALL men already know to be true, since the laws of God are written their hearts and the conscience bears witness to God in their guilt each and every time they sin.

But while the existence of God is inscrutable, undeniable, and incontestable, the claim of Jesus to be Himself divine requires a backing, it requires a witness to its truth.

This morning, from John chapter 5, verses 30 to 47, we’ll hear of the multiple witnesses to the testimony of Jesus. [REPEAT: The multiple witnesses to the testimony of Jesus.]

CONTEXT

First, let’s recall the context.

We continue Jesus’s monologue response to the Jews who were seeking to kill him after he had healed the invalid at the pool of Bethesda on a Sabbath and declared himself equal with God.

Last week our passage was on the first of Jesus’s monologue where we saw Him proclaim his authority, even over judging all men at the resurrection.

Now we move on to the second half of Jesus’s monologue.

Here we first find Jesus noting that testimony requires multiple witnesses.

I. TESTIMONY REQUIRES MULTIPLE WITNESSES

He says,

31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.

This is not a new teaching, but comes from the Old Testament.

Deuteronomy 17:2-7

“If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing the covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshipped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done is Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones. On the EVIDENCE OF TWO WITNESSES OR THREE WITNESSES the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. The hand of the witness shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand f all the people. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”

But this necessity of multiple witnesses is not just for capital crimes, but is always necessary to establish the truth of a matter.

Deuteronomy 19:15

“A single witness shall nut suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.”

It is these Old Testaments teaching Jesus is referring to when he says

31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.

Jesus needs—as He Himself explains—he needs the testimony of another witness. The Scriptures have taught us to verify with the testimony or two or three witness. And this important verification principle allows us to cast aside those fanatics throughout history who have made unbelievable and who lack the witnesses to support their claims. But Jesus’s claim—His claim to be God—passes the text because there are multiple witnesses.

II. THE MULTIPLE WITNESSES TO THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS

Now, who are these witnesses?

1. JOHN THE BAPTIST IS A WITNESS TO CHRIST

2. JESUS’S OWN WORKS ARE A WITNESS TO CHRIST

3. GOD THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES IS A WITNESS TO CHRIST

[REPEAT]

1. JOHN THE BAPTIST IS A WITNESS TO CHRIST

First, there is John the Baptist.

Jesus says,

33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

Recall, back in the first chapter of John’s Gospel, that the Jews had sent priests and levites to John the Baptist asking him who he is. John answered “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord.” And he bore witness to the truth of Jesus Christ in saying “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” And the next John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

John the Baptist was a witnesses for Jesus Christ. He was “a burning and shining lamp” bringing light to the truth that Jesus is Himself the Truth with a capital T.

This is the first witnesses to Jesus. But there are others. And in each case as we move on we find that the witness testimony become stronger and stronger.

What is stronger that the testimony of John the Baptist? It is Jesus’s own miraculous works that have been done in the sight of men. These bear witness to Christ.

2. JESUS’S OWN WORKS ARE A WITNESS TO CHRIST

Jesus says,

36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

See, not all testimony is spoken. The actions of some persons display their guilt. And a persons actions may testify to their innocence.

Your reputation is a witnesses. Your reputation as a criminal will make it easy for a judge or jury to charge you with another crime. Your reputation as a law-abiding citizen will make it difficult for a judge or jury to charge you with any crime.

So we have Jesus say that there is another testimony in his favor in addition to that of John the Baptist and His own claims. And that testimony is GREATER than that of John. The testimony is the very works that he is doing, which bear witness that the Father has sent him. Even Nicodemus recognized this when he said to Jesus “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

See, the purpose of Jesus’s miracles was not just the immediate effect. He was not turning water into wine merely to improve the wedding feast. He did this to testify that the Father has sent him. And he did not heal the official’s son nor the invalid at the pool merely that they might have improve health and lifestyles, but in order that he might testify by his works that the Father has sent him.

And while John the Baptist brought much attention to Jesus in pointing him out as the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sin of the world, surely the miracles of Jesus brought greater attention until in fact crowds were following him around.

But there is yet a greater witness. Greater than John the Baptist. Greater even than the miracles of Jesus. And that witness is God who in His Word, the Scriptures, bears testimony to Christ.

3. GOD THROUGH THE SCRIPTURES IS A WITNESS TO CHRIST

In verse 32 Jesus says:

32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.

And it is not until 5 or 6 verses later that Jesus explains he was not talking about John the Baptist, he was talking about God. God bears witnesses to Christ and his testimony is certainly true.

Maybe the Jews wouldn’t listen to John the Baptist, or maybe they were not impressed by Jesus’s miracles, but surely—one would think—they would revere the Word of God.

Jesus says,

37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

How do the Scripture bear witness to Christ? They do so throughout. Everywhere in the Old Testament there are shadows and types which are fulfilled in Christ. There are prophecies and they are often very clear and specific. The messiah would be born in Bethlehem, to a Virgin, and he would come from the line of King David. These and hundreds of other Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The Scriptures bear witness Christ. The very Word of God bears witness to Christ.

And so we have these three witnesses in greater and greater power: John the Baptist, the works of Jesus, and the Words of God. [REPEAT: John the Baptist, the works of Jesus, and the Words of God] These confirm the testimony of Jesus Christ that he is equal with God.

III. YET YOU DO NOT BELIEVE.

Yet, despite all of this testimony—plentiful, sufficient, and clear—the Jews Jesus was speaking to would not believe.

Jesus’s monologue continues,

40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

No matter how much evidence there is

No matter how many witnesses there are,

You will not believe.

We learn that it is not for lack of witnesses that the people do not believe.

The evidence is plentiful.

But the heart remains in opposition to Christ.

The external (the evidence) is full, but the internal (the heart) remains empty.

The people do not have the Love of God within them. They do not have the Holy Spirit working in their hearts.

They’ve read the Scriptures. They understand them, to an extent. But they DO NOT believe. They do not believe Moses’s writings. Moses through whom God revealed His truth. And not believing these Words of God, they will not believe the Words of God that come from the mouth of Jesus.

They are not half-way there, believing the Old Testament but not Jesus Words. They are zero percent of the way there. They do not believe Moses’s words nor to do they believe Christ.

But the words of Moses that they confess to believe, the Law of Moses, condemns them. Jesus does not need to accuse them before the Father because the Law of Moses already does that. The law came through Moses, Grace and Truth through Jesus Christ.

The multiple witnesses to Jesus Christ testify that He is the Son of God. Believe in Him for your salvation.

APPLICATION

Now, I want to note an application that the New Testament itself uses on this principle of multiple witnesses. The key passage in dealing with conflict resolution is from Matthew 18.

Jesus tells his disciples,

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

When you find yourself approaching a situation where someday the other party may contest what you have said or done, it is prudent and Biblical to bring another person or two with you. People tease Vice President Mike Pence when he sets a policy that he will not be alone in a room with a woman. But he is merely following Biblical precedence. While politicians and celebrities alike are being accused (sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly) of all sorts of inappropriate behavior, Mike Pence has other witnesses with him. It is never the word of one against the word of another. There are multiple witnesses. And even if a person is a very saintly individual and you can trust them to be alone, still to prevent accusations from others, it is wise to have witnesses.

Conclusion

The Lord determined that it was wise that Jesus have multiple witnesses to his claims. Thus we can be assured of their truth. Be assured that Jesus is the Christ, the very Son of God. And believe in him for your salvation. It is in his name we pray, amen.

2 thoughts on “Sermon on John 5:30-47 — “Multiple Witnesses to the Testimony of Jesus””

    1. I haven’t been recording the audio of my sermons at my current church. Sermonaudio (or the like) is not currently in the budget.

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