Summary: # 17 in series. Christ presents his credentials - five witnesses to support that He is the Son of God!
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 17
“The Credentials of Jesus”
One of my favorite old movies is a western in which a cowboy is set upon by some Mexican banditos trying to pass themselves off as officers of the law. When the banditos stated that they were law officers the cowboy asked them to prove it by presenting their badges. To which they replied, “Badges, Badges, We don’t need no stinkin’ badges.”
Yet the truth is that even today we expect people to be able to prove who they are. In today’s text the identity of Jesus becomes the issue after He heals on the Sabbath. You might recall that Jesus healed a man that had been an invalid for 38 years and he did it on the Sabbath (5:1-13). But instead of rejoicing in this miracle the religious leadership concluded that Jesus was a lawbreaker. Jesus defended his actions by making three amazing claims about who He is; He claimed equality with the father, He claimed the power to give life, and He claimed the authority to judge. “Then Jesus you are saying that you are God. Well, then, upon what evidence do you make such a claim?” In the light of those claims it is only natural that substantiation be given for those claims. In fact his critics had every right to expect that evidence be presented to confirm his claims.
Jesus begins in verse thirty-one by stating that he realizes and accepts that without proof his claims are unworthy of belief. “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true.” Jesus does not mean that His claims are false, only that His testimony alone would not be valid in a court of law. If Jesus was who He said He was then His claim had to be supported by other testimony.
The Old Testament in Deuteronomy 19:15 states, “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.” According to the Law of Moses a single witness was not sufficient to deter-mine the truth of a matter. So beginning in verse thirty-two Jesus begins to present his witnesses. In fact in this section of Scripture alone, the word “witness” appears nine times.
First, There is the Witness of the Father (v. 32)
Jesus says that there is testimony that will verify who He is (v. 32), “There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true.” Who is the “other witness” that Jesus first asserts that supports his claim? It seems wise to understand that the “other witness” that Jesus refers to here is God the Father.
Although Jesus does not identify the “other” witness he refers to he uses the Greek word for “other” or “another” (allos) is a word that means “another of the same kind.” God the Father is the only one of the same kind as Jesus. Jesus is saying that God the Father not only sent God the Son, through whom He is to be known, but he has in addition provided other supplemental witnesses. Jesus now presents four additional witnesses as to His identity.
Not Only Do We Have The Witness Of God The Father But ….
Secondly, There is the Witness of John the Baptist (vv. 33-35)
“You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. (34) Yet I do not receive
testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. (35) He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.”
•John will be recognized as a credible witness because He was so widely known and accepted by the people. When John began to preach people came from all over Palestine to hear him (Mark 1:5). It was apparent to all that he was candid, sincere and without self-promotion.
•John is also a credible witness because
of his recognition as a prophet! John is not brought forth here simply as a witness, in much the same way that a Christian today would be considered a witness for Christ, but rather he is a particular type of witness, a prophet. Just because John refuses to be identified as “the” prophet in John 1:20 does not indicate that John was rejecting that he was a prophet. John is in fact a priest by birth (his father was a priest) and he was a prophet by appointment by God.
•John is also seen as a credible witness because the religious leaders themselves acknowledged the importance of John’s witness when they sent a delegation to visit John and question him (John 1:19-24).