The Three Witnesses
Primary Truth Taught-The fact that Jesus is the Son of God is made clear as the three witnesses come forward.
Our modern day justice system in America is in shambles. From repeat offenders being released to those of the elite getting away with crimes going unpunished to law enforcement often being portrayed as the bad guys. Times are tough when it comes to justice these days.
A well working legal system is built on a functioning courtroom and due process. Due process is the state must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person. Due process balances the power of law of the land and protects the individual person from it.
Today’s text is best understood in a courtroom setting. The Jews were placing Jesus on trial and requiring an account. The charge was being a Sabbath breaker and one guilty of blasphemy. The reality is that He’s not a Sabbath breaker because He is the Son of God. Being the Son of God, He makes the rules concerning the Sabbath not them. He has already told these Jews that He’s not breaking the Sabbath because He is doing the same type of work God the Father is doing on the Sabbath, namely the work of redemption…
John 5:19 (ESV)
19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
He was also accused of blasphemy but Jesus refutes that charge by telling them that blasphemy is impossible because He only speaks the words that He receives from the Father…
John 5:30 (ESV)
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
Jesus is giving a defense of who He is to His Jewish accusers. Those who interviewed the paralyzed man Jesus healed on the Sabbath are questioning who Jesus is and what gives Him the right to do what He does, namely break their traditions and laws.
As we watch Jesus call various witnesses to take the stand, I pray our confidence in Him is strengthened. Jesus has made some very unusual claims and now He proves, as it were, in a courtroom setting that His claims not only are true but can be validated and proved by the absolute most credible of witnesses.
The purpose for this text is to prove beyond any doubt that Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God are true and valid. His Words are proven by the testimony given.
John 5:30–47 (ESV)
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 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. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
John the Baptist appears very early in the Book of John. He steps unto the pages of the Bible very quickly and begins his ministry. He was to be a voice proclaiming the coming Messiah; his task to make straight the road for Jesus.
He is a very fitting and credible witness to the fact that Jesus is the coming Messiah; He is God’s Son.
Listen to John’s testimony to the Person of Christ…
John 1:23 (ESV)
23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
Jesus tells us in our passage for today, 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
John 1:6–8 (ESV)
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
John was a true witness for Christ. He was not the light, the light of the world is Jesus, but John carried the light and shared the light with others. He was the lamp.
This witness, while being human, was one sent by God to be a witness and prove who Jesus is.
Towards the end of John’s ministry, like in any good courtroom drama, he points his finger out from the witness stand and declares, there He is, it’s Him!
John 1:29–34 (ESV)
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
The harsh reality is that as credible a witness as John the Baptist was, the Jews didn’t listen. They remained indifferent to the truth John presented…
35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light
They were willing to listen to John for a while. They saw in John a very odd character that brought them a level of entertainment. His message, for the most part, was not something they were willing to accept.
Will the evidence convince you? Are you believing John’s words about who Jesus is? John said a lot of things about Jesus but the final verdict is that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.
I pray that we see Jesus’ claims are not just Jesus declaring Himself to be the Son of God but we see that His claim will hold up in any well functioning court of law. He not only claims to be the Son of God but He proves it over and over again…
30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true…36 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.
As the witnesses take the bench we see that they are greater in stature. As confirming as John’s witness is we have an even more credible witness from Jesus Himself.
Our Lord says that the very works He’s currently doing, the very miracles He’s accomplishing are the things the Father has given Him to do…
36 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.
We see that these works not only show compassion and mercy to others, namely, the paralyzed man healed by the pool, but they are intended to show something infinitely greater…Jesus is the Son of God who was sent from heaven by the Father.
The miracles Jesus accomplished were called signs. These signs point to the fact that He is God. Only God can do the things He did. Only God can heal, make alive, and cause the dead to rise up. These signs prove who He is and John tells us that they also instill belief in those who are partakers of them.
John 20:30–31 (ESV)
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The signs/miracles require a response. You cannot witness them or read of them and remain neutral either you will believe Jesus or try to discredit Jesus as a fraud. These signs are what brought Nichodemus to seek out Jesus in John 3. These signs are what instilled belief in Jesus’ followers. These signs are also what made the Pharisees seek to kill Jesus.
The claims of Christ being proven by His works are such irrefutable evidence that one must either believe or somehow seek to discredit them or seek to kill Him.
John 11:45–47 (ESV)
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.
John 11:53 (ESV)
53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
John 12:9–11 (ESV)
9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
The conclusion of the Pharisees wasn’t that these miracles were some sort of elaborate hoax or some delusion of mad men. By the sheer number of eyewitnesses testifying show that these miracles were real and legitimate. So, the response of the Pharisees was to kill Jesus in order to end Him and His followers. They wanted the people to be devoted to them, basically. Even in their plot to kill Jesus we see the validity of His works.
Simon Greenleaf, a founder of Harvard Law School, whose three-volume Treatise on the Law of Evidence serves as a foundation for legal practice in America even today, set out to disprove Christianity by applying his rules for evidence to the four Gospels. He ended up not refuting Christianity but accepting the claims of Christ and becoming a Christian. He was especially persuaded by the way in which the disciples proclaimed to the entire ancient world the resurrection of Jesus—of which they claimed to be eyewitnesses—even at the cost of their own lives. 
Greenleaf explains that the disciples of Jesus went to their deaths proclaiming the truths of who Jesus is and the fact that He rose from the dead. As eyewitnesses to these events the disciples knew them to be true and as Greenleaf explains died heroes of their faith knowing for certain in the things they gave their lives up for. In essence he is saying that if the claims of Jesus Christ were not true, if they had not have been confirmed by miraculous signs they would never have went to their own deaths for a lie.
37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,
The witness of God concerning His Son comes to us in the Scriptures. So, John tells us that when Jesus speaks of the testimony of the Father He immediately points us to the Scriptures. Notice He says that the Father bears witness but we’ve never heard His voice. So then, how does the Father bear witness about Jesus? He does so in the pages of the OT Scriptures.
The OT is about Jesus. We’ve seen this time and time again. To read the OT rightly is to read it and seen the promises of God related to His Son.
The magnitude of our Lord’s Words here are immense. He is telling the Jews that there is a reason with all the witnesses that they don’t hear from God.
John the Baptist gave you a show and you thought he was novel and you listened to him for a while. You see all the miracles I do and you think they’re unique but you don’t see their deeper meaning. You misread the Scriptures thinking that they’re only about your eternal life. You can’t hear God in the Scriptures. You can’t see the truths there. You don’t even believe the very Son He sent to tell you the truths you weren’t getting from the Scriptures and you don’t believe Him. What Jesus concludes is very telling. He basically tells them they are not really Jews and they don’t really believe Moses…
40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
Here’s the verdict! Jesus isn’t really the one on trial, they are. Here’s the proof that the unbelieving Jews are guilty of breaking God’s Law. Here’s what God says to these Jews.
Deuteronomy 18:15–19 (ESV)
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.
Very clearly, Jesus is telling these that the one who you often site as your claim to God’s favor, Moses you do not believe him and since you don’t believe Moses who wrote about Jesus they prove their unbelief.
We must not miss the irony here…The Jews were condemning Jesus for His works on the Sabbath when it is their works that are condemning them. The invalid was healed by the power of God but rather than praise God they are out to kill Jesus. Their works prove their heart.
Jesus makes it very clear that Moses, the one they have attached their identity to has seen and heard God but Jesus says they have not when, in fact, God is standing right in front of them speaking to them and they will not hear and believe.
Jesus goes on to declare that God’s Word does not abide in them. It was said of David that God’s Word did abide in him.
Jesus is the One like Moses that God has promised to raise up. He is proving this because He is speaking only the words God gives Him to speak. When they refuse to listen to Jesus they are the ones guilty.
John the Baptist has declared them guilty
Jesus has declared them guilty
God the Father has declared them guilty
and even Moses has declared them guilty
Where are you today? Do you believe the words of Jesus and understand that He is speaking the exact words God wants Him to speak? Do you see that He only does the works that God the Father has sent Him to do?
Do you see Jesus as not just a miracle worker but the One and only Son of God?
When we see Christ correctly we will have life in His Name.
Declaration of Grace
In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen
 Richard Phillips, Reformed Expository Commentary: Gospel of John, 330
 Richard Phillips, Reformed Expository Commentary: Gospel of John, 334