Antidote for Blind Faith
5 April 2015
A study in the series on the Gospel of John by John Dugas
Grace Bible Church, Tulsa
Full Audio Message
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Antidote For Blind Faith
Each year Christians celebrate Good Friday and Resurrection Day. Are these just religious duties? Or do we celebrate them, hoping to have some sort of religious experience? Or do we rejoice in rock solid testimony that Jesus truly walked this earth, was truly who He said He was, that He died in our place on the cross and then really rose again on the third day?
Is your faith rock solid? Can you present the Gospel as built on rock solid testimony? Do you stand without shame on the truth that Jesus really is the Messiah and Savior of sinners? Do you present the Gospel without shame as the only Gospel that God has confirmed?
Fortunately, God has provided ample testimony—reliable testimony—that Jesus is God the Son, that Jesus is the Messiah, that Jesus is the Savior. Still some people reject it. Some believe it but have a wobbly foundation. They run from opportunities to share their faith. But God has provided all that we need to stand assuredly and to preach assertively.
What started this lengthy discussion in ch. 5 was Jesus healing a disabled man on the Sabbath. Jesus deliberately opened up this can of worms so that He could confront people’s beliefs about Himself. The Gospel is built upon Jesus. So we absolutely must get Jesus right or we cannot be saved. Jesus has made some incredibly bold claims about Himself. Can we trust Him?
Jesus presents four witnesses that He is Messiah so that men can confidently trust in Him and be saved. Some Bible students see five witnesses in this passage. However, Jesus’ mention of Moses is part of His summary of the four witnesses. In 5:41-47 we’ll consider next time how they rejected these witnesses.
I. Jesus doesn’t call men to believe in Him blindly. Read 31-32.
Let’s talk for a minute about this important word: testify/bear witness. The apostle John considers it an important idea. How do I know? If you count its uses in the entire NT except in John’s writings, you’ll find them used 59 times. Then count them in John’s writings (this Gospel, his three epistles and Revelation) and you’ll find them used 77 times—more than all the books of the NT put together! Why is this term so important to John?
Many others have claimed to be the Messiah. People in every generation claim to have a word that they received from God. How do we know if they speak the truth? How do we know if they are the promised Messiah? Their evidence always fails to pass the test of careful examination. Jesus alone has presented ample evidence that is impeccable and reliable. God outlined the requirements.
Dt 19:15 required that two or three witnesses provide legal testimony, “on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.” There, Moses had forbid “a single witness.” This provides support for inserting the word “alone” into our English translations because that is probably what Jesus meant. When Jesus said that My testimony is not true, He isn’t saying that it would be false but rather that it would inadmissible according to OT law. It isn’t wrong for a person to testify about them self. But God set up high standards for anyone who claimed to speak for Him and especially for anyone who claimed to be Messiah. We shouldn’t accept someone’s claim if they can’t provide the proof God required—two or three reliable witnesses.
Think about 1 John 4:1-6 where the apostle warns his readers against believing everyone who claims to speak for God. John walks his readers through how to discern between “the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” He learned that method from Jesus in teaching like we find here in John 5.
Picture a court of law. If someone claimed to be the Messiah, but based that only on their own word, we really couldn’t verify it. They aren’t able to meet God’s high standards of proof.
And so Jesus prepares us for the proof He’s going to provide. He assures us that He has solid testimony. He promised, there is another who bears witness of Me. Here Jesus refers to the overall work of His Father. Jesus will break that work down to show how the Father has testified of Jesus through four specific witnesses. The Father sent John. The Father commissioned Jesus’ works. The Father Himself testifies. And the Father gave the Scriptures. To assert His own testimony without that of the Father, Jesus would break His perfect unity with His Father (John 5:19-30).
II. Four witnesses give us confidence to trust in Jesus (John 5:33-40).
A. John the Baptist testifies of Jesus. Read v. 33-35.
Jesus knows that the religious leaders have received John’s witness. Recall back in 1:19ff that the religious leaders sent a delegation to John the Baptist to find out what he claimed for himself. He made it clear that he was not the Messiah but that he had been sent ahead of Messiah to prepare people to receive Him. John gave Biblical support for his ministry by quoting Isaiah 40. And an angel told John’s father Zacharias that John would come in the spirit and power of Elijah (Lk 1:17).
John’s witness is significant because God provided prophecies through Scripture and through an angel to one of God’s priests in the temple. And while John’s witness happened in the past, Jesus uses the perfect tense here to show that John’s testimony still speaks.
But as important as John’s witness is, Jesus pointed out that He isn’t relying only on the testimony of men. Jesus didn’t gather influential men to His side to support His cause. In that sense, He doesn’t receive the witness from man, that is, from man alone. He will offer more proof.
Jesus explains to the religious leaders why He is taking time to spell out the several witnesses that support His claim that He is the Messiah. It is so that you may be saved. Here He cuts to the chase. Why go into all of this? Men’s salvation depends on it! Our faith must be built on a rock!
Jesus says one last thing about John. He was the lamp that was burning. John may already be in prison by this time. When Jesus referred to John as THE lamp, He may be alluding to Ps 132:17 where it was prophesied that a lamp would be provided for Messiah. He may be saying, John was THAT lamp. For a while, John was popular. The people of Israel were intrigued by his ministry and were willing to rejoice for a while in it. He seemed to be heralding the start of the great Messianic Age where Israel’s chastisement would be over and God would repay their enemies for their evil.
B. Jesus’ works testify of Jesus. Read v. 36.
John did not perform signs because he proclaimed the coming of the One who would perform signs (10:41; Isa 40:3-4; Isa 35:5-6). Jesus’ own works provide a second witness. As a witness, these works are greater than John. Why? God the Father commissioned Jesus to perform these signs so that Israel would know her Messiah and that the Father had sent Him. God promised in Isa 35:5-6 that at that time “the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy”. Later, Jesus will say in 10:25 “the works that I do in My Father’s name, these bear witness of Me.”
C. God the Father testifies of Jesus. Read vv. 37-38.
Here Jesus shows His opponents that they are at odds with God the Father. It’s as if they are all in court, Jesus is on trial, and the religious leaders aren’t accepting the testimony of God the Father!
How has the Father testified of Jesus’ authenticity? I think Jesus has in mind here that ministry which His Father has had in all of these other witnesses. He gave the Scriptures that foretold of John the Baptist. God the Father gave Jesus works to perform. And God gave men the Scriptures which point to Jesus.
The Jewish leaders would be the first to say that they follow God the Father. However, Jesus points out that they have not heard God’s voice, they haven’t seen His form and God’s word has not taken root in their hearts. Why? Because they do not believe Him whom He sent. That is, they have rejected Jesus. Since He was sent by the Father, they are at odds with God the Father.
D. OT Scriptures testify of Jesus. Read vv. 39-40.
Scripture comes up naturally here because you know the religious leaders are thinking, “Oh yeah? You claim we don’t have God’s word abiding in us? Well, we’ll have you know that we painstakingly study God’s word.” Jesus admitted that they search the Scriptures. This is a strong word, describing thorough investigation. When Solomon’s temple had been destroyed in 586 B.C., Jewish scholars replaced the temple sacrifices with an intense (although superstitious) study of the Law.
They believed that if they studied the words of the Scriptures they would earn eternal life. Rabbi Hillel taught: “more study, more life.” But in spite of such intense study, they missed the point—they missed the Savior! And so Jesus says that they were unwilling to come to Him to receive life from Him. They deliberately rejected Jesus.
If they had studied so rigorously to learn what the Scriptures actually taught, they would have learned what Jesus taught those two disciples on the road to Emmaus in Lk 24:27 “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” The way that the Scriptures do give life is not by study alone but by also believing what they say.
Knowing these four solid witnesses, is your faith more solid? Can you now share your faith without shame and without hesitation? If you are still unsaved, do you realize that these four witnesses leave you without excuse? God requires that you respond to them in faith, believing that Jesus is the Christ—the Messiah—so that you can receive life in His name.