Summary: Best summed up by a D.A. Carson quote: ¡§Jesus does not merely bring his Father¡¦s message; Jesus is the message, He is the Word.¡¨
Let's understand the context¡KJesus has just claimed to be the ¡§Light of the world,¡¨ and His critics are outraged at such audacity. They¡¦d like to yell, ¡§Who do you think you are!¡¨ but He just got finished telling them who He was. His self-disclosure is indeed outrageous if it isn¡¦t true. ¡§We don¡¦t get Jesus on our terms¡¨ (Eugene Peterson).
Jesus counters His critics with more bold claims¡KHe testifies on His own behalf, He asserts authority to judge, and He stands with His Father. This provokes the Pharisees into vigorous opposition.
Have you ever served as a witness in a trial? I was one in a Court Marshall. In the Torah (the Jewish law), in order for any claim to be valid, there needed to be two witnesses (Deut 19:15). But Jesus says He bears witness for Himself. His other witness is God-the-Father, who sent Him, verse 18. Back in 5:37 He claims that the Father bears witness to Him. In the light of His claims no other witness is possible; there¡¦s no other to whom He can appeal. People often claim, ¡§God is my witness.¡¨ Here it is, in fact, absolutely true.
What do we decide about Jesus? We have only 3 options: He was either a liar, a lunatic, or the Son of God. Harvard professor Armand Nicholi writes: ¡§Jesus was either deluded or deliberately attempting to deceive his followers for some ulterior purpose, or he was who he claimed to be.¡¨ C.S. Lewis adds, ¡§Let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about Jesus being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.¡¨ Especially since Jesus claimed to be God; He declared, ¡§I and the Father are one¡Khe who has seen Me has seen the Father¡¨ (John 10:30, 14:9).
The Pharisees insist that Jesus¡¦ witness is not true, verse 13. They cling to a legal technicality. But they¡¦re overlooking one thing: they are turning their backs on God if Jesus is the Messiah. His many witnesses are the prophets of Israel who foretold His coming (and Jesus fulfills messianic prophecy in spades). There is also the witness of His deeds; in 5:36 Jesus mentions how His works verify His Messianic claims and attest to His heavenly origin. Yet the Pharisees do not wish to be convinced.
The word translated ¡§witness¡¨ or ¡§testify¡¨ (depending on your translation) in verse 14 is the Greek ƒÝƒÑƒâƒäƒåƒâƒÕƒçƒzƒnwhere we get our word ¡§martyr¡¨. Many who testified to their faith have paid the ultimate price. Thomas Merton writes, ¡§The martyr is a man who has made a decision strong enough to be proved by death.¡¨
In verse 14 Jesus says that, unlike His critics, He knows His origin and where He is going. This is not opinion; it is fact. He tells them in verse 21 that He will soon be going where they cannot follow--to His Father. One of the great comforts of life is knowing that this world is but a prelude for the world to come in the presence of God. Yet people live as if this were the only life, and when faced with death, they embrace despair. What Jesus offers is a living hope.
We form appraisals from the limits of our knowledge and experience, realizing that there are some things we just cannot know. We make the best judgment, and hope we¡¦re right. This is earth-bound reasoning, yet Jesus isn¡¦t limited by human limitations. What He¡¦s saying in verse 15 is that His critics judge superficially--according to the flesh--but He doesn¡¦t judge anyone that way. His understanding has no limitations. There is more to Jesus than we can construct out of our human resources.