Summary: Who is Jesus to you? Is He just a moral teacher? Is He just a storybook character? Throughout John chapter 5, Jesus claimed to be God. And in today’s passage, He brings four witnesses to the stand to corroborate His testimony.
How many of you have ever served on a jury before? I haven’t. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never have been able to. I’ve been summoned before—several times. We lived in Denver, CO when I joined the Air Force. And almost all of my time in the Air Force, I kept my state residency there. The problem was, when they wanted me to serve on jury duty, that’s where they thought I was. So I would always have to send them a letter explaining that I was in the military, living out of the country or out of the state and couldn’t serve. As you know, our last assignment was in Montgomery, AL. Wouldn’t you know it that Alabama would finally catch up with me to serve on jury duty. Of course, it was after we had already moved back here. So I still have never been able to serve on a jury. I know it would be time consuming and that it would be inconvenient. But I think it would be fascinating to watch the legal system at work up close. It would be fascinating to see the prosecution state their case. And then to see the defendant take the stand in their own defense. But I think that one of the most interesting things would be to see the witnesses called to the stand. Why does that happen in our court rooms? Why do witnesses have to be called? Are they called because prosecutors and defendants are always lying? Sometimes they do, but not always. But there always is the possibility that someone is lying. And that’s what the witnesses are for. They are there to corroborate the testimony of either the prosecutor or the defendant. That’s what we have in our passage this morning. In the verses that we just read, Jesus is basically calling four witnesses to the stand to corroborate His testimony. Remember the scene. The Jewish leaders have just accused Jesus of what was, according to their laws, a crime. As a matter of fact they accused Him of committing two crimes. They accused Him of working on the Sabbath. But they also accused Him of committing blasphemy. It was bad enough to be convicted of breaking the Sabbath. But if you were convicted of committing blasphemy, Jewish law said that you were to be stoned to death. You were to be brutally killed. So it was a very serious charge that they were attempting to prosecute Jesus with. Essentially, they charged Jesus with two crimes. Then they called for His defense. They called Jesus to the stand as the defendant. For the last several weeks, we have seen Jesus’ defense. And His defense can be summed up like this. Jesus did not break the Sabbath laws by healing a man on the Sabbath. He didn’t break the Sabbath laws because He is God. And as God, Jesus instituted the Sabbath in the first place. Remember what He said back in 5:17? “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” But the charge of breaking the Sabbath wasn’t the most serious charge they were laying at Jesus’ feet that day. Because they were also charging Him with blasphemy. Verse 18 says, “the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.” So that was at the heart of the matter. That was the big one. That was, in essence, what they called Jesus to the stand to defend. And what a defense He gave. He didn’t back down one bit. He fully and completely and unambiguously claimed to be God in the flesh. He claimed to be God in person. He claimed to be God in works. He claimed to be God in power. He claimed to be God in honor. He claimed to be God in salvation. And He claimed to be God in judgment. But then, notice what He said in verse 30-31 of our passage this morning. Look back to 30-31:
Now, don’t get thrown off by Jesus saying what He did in verse 31. Don’t think that Jesus is saying that His words are not true. What He is saying is that His own personal testimony isn’t enough. See, He knows that the Jewish leaders are trying to make a legal case against Him. They are charging Him with a capital crime deserving the death penalty. So because He knows that, He is going to make a legally acceptable defense. And according to the Old Testament Law, you needed more than one witness to convict a person of a capital offense. Deuteronomy 17:6 says, “At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death—but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” So Jesus was doing a couple of things here. First, He was very subtly telling the Jewish leaders, “You don’t have enough witnesses against me to legally convict Me.” While they were so worried about Jesus breaking their version of the Sabbath laws, they were in direct violation of the clear teaching of God’s law. This was another way of Jesus very subtly pointing out their hypocrisy. But that wasn’t all that Jesus was doing. Even as He was pointing out the hypocrisy of their charges, Jesus was completely fulfilling the letter of the Law. He was providing His accusers with witnesses to His defense. How many witnesses did the Old Testament law call for? It called for a minimum of two. And it said that it might be necessary to provide three witnesses in order to remove all doubt. But Jesus did better than that. He brought four witnesses to corroborate His defense. What was His defense? Remember that Jesus’ defense was that He claimed to be God. And in our passage, He brings four witnesses to the stand—four witnesses that testify to the fact that Jesus is God. The first witness that Jesus calls to the stand is the witness of human testimony. Look back at verses 32-35: