The Day I Doubted
So I was reading in John chapter 8 one day when I came across this statement by Jesus. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
And the Pharisees responded, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” (John 8:12-13)
And I looked at that, and I considered what the scriptures say about witnesses. “Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established,” God tells us in Deuteronomy 19:15. And “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips,” we’re told in Proverbs 27:2. And I thought to myself, “Hey, what about that? I mean, I really hate it when someone, say a politician, or an athlete, or a celebrity, blows their own horn. I believe in those scriptures.” I had some serious doubts.
But then I came across this passage in John chapter 5.
You see this witness thing was a big deal in Jesus’ culture. It was one of the central concepts of Jewish law and society. So when Jesus makes this statement, about himself, the Pharisees start to freak. Jesus is going against the grain of one of the core ideas in their belief system. Or so it would seem. But if we look a little closer, at John chapter 5 in particular, we see five sources of testimony or witness about Jesus. Five sources that identify Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, the light of the world, and the giver of light of life. (I encourage you to read the passage for yourself: John 5:31-47)
1) John the Baptist
Jesus begins in John 5:31 by agreeing with what the scriptures say in Deuteronomy 19:15. Jesus says, “If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true.” Then he reminds us that “there is another who bears witness about me…” Jesus is saying, I’m not alone in bearing witness about myself, if it were only me testifying about myself, then it’s not valid, but there’s more. John “has borne witness to the truth… He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.” John the Baptist was the one who went before Jesus and made “straight the way of the Lord.” John the Baptist was the one who, when he saw Jesus, said to his disciples, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:22-23, John 1:29)
John the Baptist bore witness about Jesus.
2) The Works, The Miracles, Of Jesus
“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.” (John 5:36)
The miracles Jesus performed, miracles like no one had ever seen before, they testified that Jesus came from God. In them we have a second witness about Jesus.
3) The Father’s Audible Testimony
Jesus said, “…the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me.” Jesus’ Father, God Himself, spoke audible testimony about Jesus, once in each of his three years of public ministry. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” He said when Jesus rose up out of the water during John’s baptism. (Matthew 3:13-17) And, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him,” God said on the mountain where Jesus’ divinity was partially revealed, when his appearance was marked by that white hot light. (Matthew 17:1-8) And finally in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ Father answered Jesus’ prayer, directly and audibly when Jesus said, “Father glorify your name.” And God, his Father answered, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:27-30)
The Father, the God of the universe, the Creator Himself audibly testified about Jesus.
4) The Scriptures
“Do this and you will live,” Jesus said to the lawyer who correctly identified the two greatest commandments of the Old Testament. (Luke 10:25-28) The Jews believed that to follow the Old Testament meant to live–eternally. That’s where they sought after their eternal salvation, in the scriptures. And they were right to do so, but they missed the message of Christ. Jesus said in John 5:30, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…”
Jesus made that comment more than once, that the Old Testament scriptures testified about him. On the road to Emmaus, after his resurrection, he opened the scriptures and explained this to Cleopas and his traveling companion. “…beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
It really is remarkable how the Old Testament scriptures tell the story of Jesus. If you’re interested in a deeper study on the topic check out the Jesus in the Old Testament series.
So the Pharisees were looking, but not seeing. They were looking for salvation in the right place, but not seeing Jesus there in the Old Testament scriptures. Nor did they see, even when Jesus was physically present before them.
In fact, Jesus said that in the end, the author of their scriptures, Moses, would be the one to judge those disbelieving Jesus. Because Moses wrote of Jesus. And Jesus said, “…if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
5) The Holy Spirit
You probably noticed that Jesus still appears to have violated the commandment in Proverbs 27:2, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips…” But think this through with me. Jesus once declared: “…I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment–what to say and what to speak.”
So when Jesus makes these statements about himself, he’s not praising himself, it’s not him delivering that message, but rather His Father’s Spirit. Because Jesus is directed what to say and what to speak. So it’s the Holy Spirit that testifies about Jesus when he tells us about himself.
The Old Testament required two or three witnesses for a testimony to be established. But Jesus offers five in John chapter five.
And I’m glad he did.
The doubts are gone.
Image via Central Baptist Waycross-labeled for reuse on Google Images