John 5:31-47: Testimony
October 17, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The conflict is heating up, and Jesus now begins to clarify what sort of testimony there is that he is who he says he is. Unlike false religions, Christianity does not ask us “just to believe” without any evidence, facts, or testimony. The faith of the Christian is based upon truth, and—while that faith is a supernatural gift—it is in principle no different from the trust that is accorded another person when they give evidence of being trustworthy. God’s evidences to us are not the evidence of empirical science; they are the evidences of history, in which God has revealed himself; the evidences of Scripture, through which God has revealed himself; the evidences of relationship, of the God of love reaching out to his beloved that the beloved might trust him.
Jesus describes the testimony of John the Baptist. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus (he was a “burning and shining light”: that is, he both shined with truth and burnt with passion). But while John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, the truth of Jesus is not ultimately based upon John the Baptist—that would mean he was accorded his status by a mere human. No, Jesus’ testimony is found in the “works” (or, as John puts it elsewhere, the “signs”) that Jesus does.
And, the testimony to Jesus comes from the Father God himself. The Scriptures speak of Jesus. They search the Scriptures, but they do not believe in Jesus. Why? Because they do not truly have the love of God within them. They are more concerned with receiving glory from each other—the religious approval of peer group status—than of receiving glory from God. This is why they cannot see Jesus for who he is: they are not interested, do not love God for God’s sake; they only want him for the status that comes with wanting God. They do not actually want God; they just want to be respected because it looks like they want God! Indeed, Moses himself, the writings of Moses, accuse them, for Moses wrote of Jesus—all the law of Moses is fulfilled in Christ—and if they do not believe Moses, how will they believe in Jesus?
We face then a delicate balance. On the one hand, Jesus provides ample testimony. Those who do not believe in him, therefore, are called to account for not believing: the deepest possible reason is their lack of love for God. On the other hand, we do not tell people to believe without providing evidence. Jesus himself provides testimony—that of John the Baptist, his miraculous works, the testimony of God himself as revealed in the Bible. We are not to tell people to “just believe” without providing any good reason for believing; but nor are we to think that ultimately, when people refuse to believe despite the evidence, they are not believing for any other final reason than a lack of love for God.
The truth of Jesus is so well attested, so clear, so shining—burning—that it is more than enough for anyone with eyes to see, or ears to hear, to believe. God grant us the eyes to see, and the ears to hear, all the glory of God as found in Christ, to believe in him, and worship him!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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