Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Evidence Speaks - I (John 5:30-38)

“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. If I alone bear witness about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about Me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about Me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 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. And the Father who sent Me has himself borne witness about Me. His voice you have never heard, His form you have never seen, and you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe the One whom He has sent.” (John 5:30–38, ESV) (Caps added to pronouns referring to God.)

When there is a dispute between two individuals and neither of their stories can be corroborated it is difficult to determine who is correct. In cases like this they might both be lying and they might even both be telling their own “enhanced” piece of truth without regard to the portion that affects the other individual. The reality is that you just don’t know which one to believe. As Jesus continued to confront His accusers He reiterated that He was not doing anything on His own. He was appointed to judge and His judgments were based upon what He had heard and these judgments were just. He did not have any personal agenda in them, but was given to perfectly doing the will of the Father who sent Him.

The Jews believing Him was another issue. They had their agenda, they were opposed to Jesus, and based upon what we know followed they made no change in their opinion. Jesus went on to tell them that if it were just Him who had said these things without any corroboration then they would have every reason to doubt Him. He even went further to say that if He were the only one who had claimed this and there were no other substantiation then His testimony would indeed not be true.

Jesus also told them that while His testimony did not come from man and that He really did not have any obligation to support what He had said, because of His desire that their hearts might be changed and people would be saved He would support what He had said by telling them of the witness of others. The first of them is found in one who they had personally examined, John the Baptist, who proclaimed the immediate coming of the Lamb of God who would come in power and truth. The second witness is the signs and wonders, and the third is the Scriptures themselves. We’ll look at witness of John and the signs and wonders today and then the Scriptures in the next post.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the Light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the Light.” (John 1:6–8, ESV)

“The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” … “I myself did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29, 33–34, ESV) 

John was one that they themselves saw as a bright and shining light from God as he came to declare repentance and the coming of the Lord. They rejoiced for a while in his message. After all, the coming of the Messiah was what Jews had been looking forward to for a very long time. They knew the promises of Scripture and the message of John that He would soon come was good news. Some, I’m sure might have even had on their minds the words of the prophets such as Malachi.

“Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1, ESV) 

Jesus went on to say that the word of John was not all there was, and were it a trial his word as a single witness would be insufficient proof. He pointed them to an even greater proof in pointing to the works that He had done. He told the Jews that 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.” It was not just a matter of a couple of guys staking claim to one of them being the Messiah. No, the Father had sent the Son with the ability to do signs and wonders which testify of and bear witness to His veracity. Jesus’ words were backed by action, and the action was undeniable. Remember that this whole incident started with Jesus telling a man who had been unable to walk for thirty-eight years to take up his bed and walk, only to have the Jews confront him for carrying his bed on the Sabbath.

He bluntly told them that they were in no position to judge whether or not He was for real on behalf of God. They had never personally heard the voice of God. They had never personally seen Him, and they did not have His word in them. The first two statements probably were easily accepted, but I imagine that these self-appointed enforcers of the law did not particularly care for the last one. Telling them that they did not have His word in them meant that they did not know what they were speaking of. They had no authority in this area and as such could not sit in judgment, adding that if they really did have the word of God in them then they clearly would accept Him as the One sent by God. By their lack of acceptance they proved their lack of real understanding and their ignorance of these things of God.

In our world there are huge numbers of people who have their concept of God and how He should do things. They even take His word and twist it to suit their own agendas or personal desires. This does not make them right and it does not change the character of God. What it does do is prove how distant they are from Him and how little they know of His truth.

There are a number of great books available written by men who sought to prove the claims of Christ or even to disprove them and subsequently were left with no other conclusion than to accept that He is really who He claimed to be. These men include C.S. Lewis an Oxford professor and writer, Francis Collins a geneticist and physicist, Malcom Muggeridge a British journalist among a long list of other credentials, and more recently Lee Strobel who has written numerous books including “The Case for Christ.” Today driving home I heard David Limbaugh interviewed about his new book, “Jesus on Trial,” where he spoke about applying his lawyer’s eye to the evidence concerning the truth of Christ. All of these men and so many others have come to salvation or made a significant change in their spiritual walk based upon gaining a greater understanding of just how true these claims really are.

Jesus said that He would give them further evidence because He wanted people to be saved, and this evidence continues to change lives today. It is an amazing thing to know that our faith is not something that is simply to be heard and believed. God has thought so much of His truth that He has manifested it in such a way that the evidence speaks through time and affirms His truth. 

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