The Testimony of the Father and the Word - John 5:32-47

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — John 5:39

Jesus said, "If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true." (Vs. 31.) This does not mean that Jesus did not bear witness concerning Himself, for He did. Nor does it mean that He did not tell the truth, for He could not do otherwise, being Himself "the way, the truth, and the life." (Jno. 14:6.) But it does mean that if Jesus were other than God, and His claims rested solely on His own testimony, then they were not true and were worthy of rejection. He was speaking from the standpoint of the unbelieving Jews and saying to them, "If what you think of Me be true, you are right in refusing to believe in Me." But He immediately proceeded to show that His claims were true, as proven by other witness than His own. The witness of John, the witness of His own works, the witness of the Father, and the witness of the Scriptures all give concerted testimony that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh, and the Saviour of men. Too many false prophets have come, claiming some special power or divine revelation, whose claim was based solely on their own testimony, or the credulity of their followers. Such a prophet is not worthy of the confidence of God's people, but his name is "Legion." And as the age draws to its close we may expect to see the prophecies of God's Word fulfilled in an increase in numbers and in the horrid activities of such deceptive dupes of the devil. Thank God, He has accredited His Son in an incontrovertible manner, through the four witnesses spoken of in this chapter, and they who will hear Him need not be led astray. I Tim. 4:1; II Tim. 3:13; Jno. 7:17-18.


John 5:32-35.

The witness of John was a true witness. He was a God-ordained witness, sent before Jesus to proclaim His coming. He preached repentance in view of the soon coming of the Messiah, the King. He clearly testified that He was not the Christ, but was sent before Him to prepare His way. When Jesus was manifested he cried, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." (Jno. 1:29.) John witnessed to the Deity and Saviour-hood of Jesus, and in this he bore witness to the truth. Jesus recognized the truthfulness of John's testimony, but clearly stated that this was not the most important testimony. He said, "I receive not the witness of men, but these things I say that ye might be saved." (Vs. 31.) Here again we must rightly understand H's words. He was not discrediting the witness of John, for He twice affirmed its truthfulness, but He was stating that His claims were not based on merely human testimony. John's testimony was true for it was accredited by the other witnesses, but it in itself would not have been sufficient, for human beings make mistakes. Because this testimony was confirmed by the other witnesses, which were more than human, we know his witness was true and rejoice in it. I Jno. 1:9-12; Jno. 1:20-23, 29; Luke 3:2-6; Matt. 3:1-3.

The Jews received the initial testimony of John and should have followed it until it led them to Jesus. He preached, saying, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Great multitudes did repent at his preaching, and submitted themselves to his baptism as a testimony to their repentance and desire to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom. But when Jesus came, the very substance of John's message, they rejected Him. They supposed that He would come in magnificence and splendor and power to establish the Kingdom. When He did not come thus, hut as the Scriptures had prophesied He would come, in meekness and lowliness, they were offended and would not have Him. They were right in their expectations, but wrong in their emphasis. Jesus is coming in power, majesty and glory which will exceed even the expectations of the Jews, but He must first have suffered on the cross. The Jews were expecting the glory, but rejecting the humiliation. They believed in the glorious coming of Jesus, but would not admit the necessity of the cross. So men today expect to enter into the joy and glory of the Lord without coming bv the way of the cross, but it cannot be done. Jesus will not manifest the glory until His people shall believe, and say, "Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord." So He can give no man entrance into His life, who does not first come to the foot of the cross, accepting Him as Saviour. Matt. 3:5-6; Mark 1:1-8; Mark 15:9-14; John 3:5, 14-15; Matt. 24:30-31; Matt. 23:39 ; I Pet. 1:11.


John 5:36.

The works of Jesus hear witness that the Father has sent Him. Thus they bear witness to His Deity. The miracles which He did all show a power that is more than human. What man can give life to the dead ? What man has the power to heal sick and palsied bodies? What man can cause water to turn into wine, or can multiply loaves and fishes so that a very few will feed thousands? What man can cause the wind to abate at His word, or can so suspend the law of gravity as to be able to walk on the water? Such power belongs to God, and manifests His presence. However, the miracles alone are not sufficient. The devil is an imitator and has power greater than men have realized. He seeks to imitate the works of God and will imitate many of the miracles of Jesus. Indeed He has done so already. But the character of Jesus' miracles — their spiritual significance — testifies to His Deity and manifests His glory. Jesus never "wasted" a miracle. He did not perform them merely to gratify human curiosity, or merely to alleviate human suffering. In every miracle He wrought He taught spiritual truth. Every miracle of Jesus is packed with spiritual significance which is rich and blessed. And every one of them testifies, as did the miracle at Cana of Galilee, to His glory. Every one of them, like that first one, was wrought to lead men to believe in Him. Add to the miracles of Jesus that which was most truly His work, the sacrificial death on the cross ,and His Deity is made radiantly clear. While the devil may imitate the miracles of Jesus, there is one thing which he cannot touch. The cross of Jesus is unique. Only God Himself, the Holy and Spotless One, could bear the sins of men. When Jesus died on the cross He bare our sins and paid the price for us. Had He been a mere man He could never have done this, but because He was God He could, and did, voluntarily offer His life a ransom for the souls of all men. The works of Jesus testify to His Deity and Sonship. Matt. 24:34; Rev. 13:13-15; Jno. 10:37-38; Heb. 7:26-27; Heb. 9:24-28.


John 5:37-38.

At the baptism of Jesus the Father had accredited Him by the voice from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:17.) But evidently these people to whom Jesus was speaking had not been present on that occasion, for He told them that they had not heard the voice of the Father at any time. Apparently, then, Jesus did not refer to that voice and testimony, but rather taught that the Father was bearing witness to His Son in the three other testimonies to which He referred. It was the Father who sent John and Who gave him his testimony. It was the Father Who sent the Son and gave Him the works which He did. In those very works He bore witness to the Son. It was the Father who spoke in the Scriptures concerning the Son and the Scriptures are His testimony. After all, voices and visions are not so dependable as the recorded Word. God has, in times past, spoken with men by a voice, and He has appeared to them in a vision, but there have been many voices and visions which were not from God at all. If the voice were the only testimony it might be a lying voice, for the devil does imitate God and show great signs and wonders. But the voice, the testimony of John, the testimony of the works of Jesus, and the testimony of the Word agree in one. Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Saviour of the world. The Father's testimony- is clearly seen in all of the others, but particularly in the testimony of the written Word. Luke 9:35; II Pet. 1:16-21.


John 5:38-47.

The testimony of God's Word is the test of all other testimonies. John enunciated this principle when witnessing concerning Jesus, for he said, "He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God." (Jno. 3:34.) The same standard is raised in the Old Testament, for there we read, "To the Law and to the Testimony: if they speak not according to this Word it is because there is no truth in them." (Isa. 8:20.) As we have already seen, the witness of Jesus, the witness of John, the witness of miraculous works, or the witness of the heavenly voice — none of these would have been sufficient to establish the validity of Jesus' claims if they had not been supported by the written Word of God. But they were supported by that standard and undeniably established by it; testimony. The Bible centers in Jesus. He is the Fulfillment of its types, the Theme of its songs, the Subject of its prophecies. He is the One about Whom all revelation revolves and in Whom it centers. The Bible, God's written Word, was given for the sole purpose of revealing Jesus, God's living Word. Two infidels once agreed one with the other that each would write a book disproving the Deity of Jesus Christ. In order to be fair they both read and studied the Bible, so as to face all the evidence on the question in hand. Both of them were fully convinced that Jesus was God, and both of them were soundly converted. So Jesus spoke truly when He said, "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life and they are they which testify of Me." The Deity and Saviour-hood of Jesus are firmly established by the testimony of God's Word. Acts 10:43; Luke 24:27, 44; Psa. 22:1-21; Isa. 53:5-6; Isa. 9:6-7; 7:14.