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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Witnesses to Christ -- John 5:31-47

          In the last teaching, we learned that Jesus has authority over  eternal life. He also has the authority to execute judgment because He is the Son of Man. In other words, He walked the earth like every other man. If we are given eternal life and are made holy through Jesus, we cannot go into judgment. We are hidden in a holy, righteous Man.
          While in the flesh, Jesus willingly subjected Himself to God's authority. However, Jesus does not stop being God! He was fully human and "made lower than the angels" but He never relinquished His divine nature. Instead, Christ "made Himself nothing." (see Philippians 2:5-11) In other words, Jesus willingly made Himself nothing in order to redeem mankind. In heaven, the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are equal and have only one will, purpose and nature. Jesus also lived this out in His flesh body.
          We also learned that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Sabbath. He is holy. He doesn't have to keep the Sabbath holy because He is holy every day. Exodus 20:8 says, "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy." Jesus is the Holy One who is Lord over the holy day -- the Sabbath. No one -- I repeat no one -- can keep the Sabbath Day holy unless they are in Christ. Our holiness is in the fact that we are the holy Body of Jesus Christ because of Him and His shed blood on the cross! There will be a final Sabbath Day -- the Day of the Lord -- when all will be at peace and rest in the finished and complete work of Jesus Christ. On that day, we will have eternal rest -- eternal Sabbath Day -- and all will be holy once again as it was in the beginning.

Two or Three Witnesses
          Jesus next confronts the religious leaders who are accusing Him of blasphemy by making Himself equal with God. According to the Law in the Older Testament, every word must be established by two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 19:15: One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. This principle was affirmed by Jesus when He told His disciples to take two or three witnesses to a brother who has sinned against them. "If he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." Matthew 18:16   
          Examples of two and three witnesses in the New Testament:
  • Jesus appeared in His veiled glory on the Mount of Transfiguration with two witnesses -- Moses who represents the Law and Elijah who represents the prophets. Moses and Elijah faded away indicating that their ministries pointed to Jesus. There were also three earthly disciples -- Peter, James and John -- who were witnesses to Jesus's transfiguration and who also saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus.
  • The Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit are the three witnesses of Truth.
  • The two testaments in fullness witness of Jesus.
  • The Apostle Paul gave warning to the Church at Corinth that he was coming a third time to them for "every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses." 2 Corinthians 13:1 Some in the Church were demanding proof from Paul that Christ is speaking through him. For the third time (three corrections), Paul was warning these believers that they were off base demanding this proof from Paul who is Christ's chosen one.
  • Timothy instructed the Church at Ephesus, "Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses." 1 Timothy 5:19  Timothy whom Paul had mentored used this method regarding elders (leaders in the Church).
  • Jesus sent His disciples out two by two to share the Gospel -- two witnesses.
  • The writer of Hebrews reminded the Jews that "Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?" Hebrews 10:28-29
         Jesus responds to the Pharisees, "If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid." John 5:31 Jesus is referring to the necessity according to Law of two or three witnesses. Jesus's own testimony about Himself would not be valid. It must come from two or three others according to the Law. If Jesus was acting independently of the Father, His witness would not be true. But Jesus wasn't.
         Jesus will show those present who has testified of Him.
Witness of John the Baptist
         "You have sent to John (the Baptist) and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony, but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light." John 5:33-35  Jesus says He doesn't need glory from humans. This type of glory is meaningless. Jesus seeks the Father's glory by doing all that the Father tells Him to do. Jesus is not motivated by esteem from other people. He is motivated by love to please God and thus receive His praise. Jesus's willing obedience to His Heavenly Father pleased the Father as God stated at Jesus's baptism.
          Jesus tells these religious leaders that  they have sent to John the Baptist to get affirmation that Jesus is who He says He is. God illuminated John the Baptist to testify of Jesus as the Lamb of God and to prepare the way for Jesus. John the Baptist was a lamp that pointed to the Light of the world. God revealed in Psalm 132:7 that He would set a lamp for His Anointed One. John the Baptist fulfilled this. The Older Testament whom John the Baptist represents was also a lamp that pointed to the Light of the world -- Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promise to King David that he would have a lamp that would never go out. (1 Kings 11:36; 2 Chronicles 21:7)  The Lord swore an oath to David that He will not revoke. (see Psalm 132:11) Jesus, born through the tribe of Judah, is God's fulfillment of His oath to David. No mortal, unholy human could fulfill this except Jesus who is immortal and holy. Not only does Jesus's light shine brightly, He also has great authority.
          Jesus is called the "lamp" in Revelation 21:23. "The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." In the eternal City -- the New Jerusalem -- Jesus will reflect God's light and glory. When Jesus walked the earth in His flesh body, He was a light who reflected the light and glory of God. Those who love and follow Christ are to reflect His glory and light while on earth, and will eternally reflect it in the New Jerusalem.
         Out of His love for His people, God sent John the Baptist to witness of Christ so that all -- including these Jewish religious leaders -- could be saved.
Witness of His Works
          "I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given Me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me has Himself testified concerning Me."John 5:36-37 Jesus has the weightier testimony of His Heavenly Father and His miracles. When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah (see Matthew 11:4-5), Jesus referred to Isaiah 35:5-6, "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer and the mute tongue shout for joy." Jesus used Older Testament scripture to assure John the Baptist that He is indeed the One. John would have understood this since he was a rabbi and prophet well-schooled in the Older Testament scriptures. Jesus wants John and those around Him to see through His miracles that He is indeed their long awaited Messiah.  He used the very scriptures in Isaiah to prove that He is the One for whom the Jews have been waiting.

Witness of His Father

          "There is another who testifies in My favor, and I know that His testimony about Me is valid."  The Father testified of Jesus as His "Beloved Son" right after John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. In this particular event, there were three witnesses: 1) The Father; 2) Jesus and 3) Holy Spirit (in the form of a dove).

          "And the Father who sent Me has Himself testified concerning me. You have not heard His voice nor seen His form, nor does His word dwell in you, for you do not believe the One He sent." John 5:37-38 Jesus is telling these religious leaders that they have always been deaf to His voice and blind to the vision of Him and His glory. Without Jesus, there is no Light (illumination) to reveal God in His true form and character. To disbelieve Christ spiritually blinds a person. In Christ, we see God and His character as well as His true form. We also see the love of God and His heart. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son....." John 3:16 God sees believers through His Son whom He loves with an eternal love and with whom He is well-pleased. Jesus continually pointed out the scriptures He was fulfilling in their very eyes, but they wanted to continue to believe what they believed! The Word was given to lead us to the Giver of life.

Witness of the Scriptures
          "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet  you refuse to come to Me to have life." v39   The Word of God dwells fully in Jesus! All of the Older Testament scriptures and the New embody Him and testify of Him. These Jewish religious leaders thought that they could possess eternal life by studying and obeying the Older Testament scriptures, but Jesus is telling them that they can't because their scriptures are all about Him and His eternal life given by His shed blood on the cross. There is no life in the "letter" of scripture. The Word is alive in Christ because He is the Living Word -- the Word brought to life in fullness. Without Jesus, the scriptures are veiled. Jesus opens them up and shows that they all lead to Him. The only reason the scriptures breathe life into believers is because Jesus is the holy, powerful Word who gives spiritual life. Once a person comes to Jesus, He transforms he or she through understanding and following the scriptures.
          In Luke 24:27, Jesus opened the eyes of two of His Jewish disciples on the road to Emmaus. And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He (Jesus) explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. Jesus helped these two Jewish disciples understand the scriptures. He opened their eyes! At this time, all they had were the Older Testament Scriptures made up of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Jesus showed these two Jewish disciples that all of their Older Testament Scriptures were about Him. Jesus was veiled in their scriptures, but Jesus unveiled the scriptures for them.
          Without Jesus and the Holy Spirit, people will be blinded to the Truth. The very scriptures that these religious leaders used to condemn Jesus and defend themselves, would one day condemn them for rejecting Jesus.

Jesus Knows Hearts

          "I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in My Father's Name, and you do not accept me, but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?" John 5:41-44  If a person rejects the Sent One, they also reject the Sender! At the root of every sin is pride and a lack of Godlike love. Jesus knew their hearts. These religious leaders loved the praise of each other. The prophet Isaiah said, ..."for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:43 The apostle John also writes in John 12 that Isaiah "saw Jesus's glory and spoke about Him." Isaiah also said, "Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn -- and I would heal them."  God blinded their eyes to the truth and deadened their hearts because they loved the praise they received from men more than they loved the glory of God. A person cannot get to heaven through human glory. Their arrogance of understanding, pride and power kept them from seeing Jesus and His Truth. They felt they knew all they needed to know about God through the Older Testament scriptures and their relationship with God. They didn't feel the need for any new or higher wisdom.
          Jesus is the opposite of humans. He doesn't need the praise of men. He operates out of love for His heavenly Father and love for mankind. Christ's main concern is to glorify God and reveal Him to others. He is our example. Jesus wants us to be a habitation of God through the Holy Spirit and the Word. (see Ephesians 2:22; Hebrews 8:5; 1 Peter 2:21) His will is to be our will.
          God (Godhead) is the Creator of all mankind and the One who gives revelation knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, He is to be praised not men. These religious leaders praise one another and might even accept false christs who are pretenders because of their pride and love for power. All who reject the True Christ are the very ones the antichrist will fool. He will give the Jews what they have been praying for -- a temple and peace in Jerusalem. But, eventually the antichrist will show his true colors. I pray with all of my heart that those who are blinded to the truth will have their eyes opened and their hearts receptive to the Good News of salvation and redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ and live their lives to glorify Him. Amen.

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