If you have a bible, please open it to John ch. 5. We will study verse 17 through 47.
A few days ago, my daughter Candice asked what we were studying in worship on Sundays. (Usually she is in children’s class with Alex). I then spoke to her about the book of John and particularly of the story of the sick man that we read last week. In reading the scripture, Candi went a little further than the healing and fell upon the section that we will be covering this week where Jesus begins to overtly reveal his identity to the Jewish leaders.
I was proud of her when she stopped at verses 17 and 18 and said, “Papa, I never read this before. This is a verse that we could tell Muslims when we study with them, right?”
That is exactly right!
In this passage, Jesus made some extraordinary declarations about his nature and capacities.
The leaders understood that when He said He was doing His Father’s work, that He was making Himself equal with the Father.
They were right.
Can you imagine being in the crowd on this day and hearing these claims? What would you think?
In the course of history, there have been people that have made the same kind of declarations. The last to my knowledge was David Koresh who believed himself to be the Christ. The jews of this time had also seen other individuals make such claims. They were probably saying to themselves, “Who does he think he is? What arrogance!”
We must consider what choices we have to make about Jesus. We can see Him as the One He says He is, which is Lord. But if He is not Lord, then He is either a liar or a lunatic. The truth is is that we can come to no other conclusions. But when it comes to proving His identity, Jesus is willing to do so.
There was an old man that witnessed a burglary and appeared in court. The defence lawyer asked him, "Did you see my client commit this burglary?"
"Yes," the man said. "I saw him plainly take the goods."
The lawyer added, "This happened at night. Are you sure you saw my client commit this crime?"
"Yes, I saw him do it," the man said.
The lawyer then said, "You are 80 years old and your eyesight probably is not as good as it used to be. Just how far can you see at night?"
The man said, "I can see the moon. How far is that?"
Well, this goes to prove that…
When we are looking to prove something, we desire reliable witnesses.
We want the help of those who see it right and hear it right. We want the help of those who remember it right and get the facts right. We want the testimony to be reliable and trustworthy.
In this text, four witnesses are brought forth:
So we see that…
So let’s bring the witnesses in…
John the Baptist became popular quickly and was known as a prophet.
John quickly became a local celebrity. People came to hear him from all over Palestine. And it was apparent that he was candid, sincere and free from self-interest. He was so unambitious, that he turned his followers over to Jesus. He was so averse to flattery that he refused to compromise in front of Herod. Because of this, I think that the Jewish leaders appreciated him secretly because he stood up to Herod.
But nevertheless, they clearly did not want to receive His message, even though it was commonly considered that he was no less than a prophet. And as a prophet, John… testified to the supremacy of Jesus (1:29-30).
Earlier in the gospel of John, it is written… ch.1 v.29-30 “…”
John understood that Jesus was on a spiritual mission that involved the salvation of the world. Jesus was supreme, and it was only appropriate (and necessary) to follow Him instead of John.
This brings us to…
Jesus provided signs that authenticated who He was.
In his gospel, John selects seven signs that give proof to who Jesus is. We have seen Jesus turn water into wine. Then Jesus does these two healings: the official’s son and the invalid. But Jesus is not going to stop there as these leaders are going to see. These signs, though, were already proving that Jesus was more than John. They were beyond the ability of a normal human being. And then think of the officer’s son for a moment. This man had no other hope. His son was dieing. But did Jesus use this miracle to climb the steps of political power? Did he do it to obtain help from the powerful or to get a personal escort? No. He just returned a son to his father to affirm the faith of a man for his god.
And then Jesus healed this infirm, the man that had been sick for 38 years. Did he take the time to mention his own name to the sick man? No! Once healed, could the man have shouted to everyone, “Long live Jesus! Long live Jesus!”? No.
He did this miracle anonymously, in the shadows just like God does for us daily. Today I breathe, I have light, and I have light because of God yet He isn’t standing before me waiting for my applause. He is satisfied to bless our lives anonymously.
Jesus was like him. He healed in love. But all of these signs were proofs of his divinity. But it is amazing how some people totally miss the point.
A man and his dog were walking the beach when they came upon another visitor to the beach. The owner of the dog was proud of his dog’s newly mastered feat, so he said to the visitor, “Watch this!” whereupon he tossed a piece of driftwood far out into the sea and the dog immediately ran on top of the ocean, fetched the wood, and ran back.
The visitor just shook his head in disbelief. Whereupon the owner repeated the procedure twice. Finally he asked the visitor, “Did you notice anything unusual?”
The visitor responded, “Your dog can’t swim, can he?”
It is amazing, isn’t it, that some people miss the obvious? That’s how it is with the miracles of Jesus. Some people see and believe Jesus’ power to do great miracles, but they miss the point. The miracles identify Jesus as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. This was something that Nicodemus began to recognize, for…
Nicodemus recognized that Jesus’ power was extraordinary (3:2). This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
Nicodemus had come to the right conclusion: Jesus was sent from God. He had unlimited power and boundless love. This brought Nicodemus to the conclusion that Jesus was extraordinarily different from everyone else.
Earlier, at His baptism, God revealed the identity of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17). “…”
Here we simply find that the Father bears witness to who Jesus is. He is the beloved Son. And He announced His Son for all to hear. So, as a result, the Jewish leaders were accusing the voice and visible manifestation of God.
This certainly is the irony of the situation. Here Jesus is: the voice of God and the visible manifestation of God to men. God is now standing before them. But because they do not believe, they are accusing the very One they claim to worship and serve.
Now Jesus brings the final witness to them…
Jesus recognizes that they are diligent students of Scripture. They search in the same way that miners look for precious metals. It is very intense. Yet, they miss the point. For the whole focus of Scripture is about Jesus.
He is the purpose, and thus the key to unlocking the meaning. Page after page bears witness to Him.
Interestingly, Jesus never appeals to the Jewish leaders for their testimony. They added nothing to Him. For, in reality, they had no zeal for God’s glory (though they claim they did). Instead, they possess an incorrigible ignorance and a malicious jealousy. Since they lived on each other’s praise, pride became their stumblingblock. And what is so unfortunate is that they would rather lose their souls than to forfeit their reputation among men.
What these leaders also demonstrate to us is that… the details of Scripture can be scrupulously studied, and yet its meaning can be missed.
These people knew how many letters one would find in the Hebrew Scriptures, and yet, they did not permit the Word to generate faith in their hearts. As Warren Wiersbe said, “The Jewish scribes sought to know the Word of God, but they did not know the God of the Word!” You see, it is one thing to have the Word in our heads, but it is another thing to have it in our hearts. These leaders were determined to disbelieve, no matter what the evidence.
Jesus then really brings the point home to them. Moses, the prophet they revere the most, was going to be their judge, not their Savior. He was going to bear witness against them, because instead of having burning hearts, they had big heads.
I am stopping here today and would like to propose two important lessons that we can draw for our lives from this text.
The Jewish leaders became unwilling to renounce their present place within the system and become followers of one so humble and unostentatious as Jesus was. After all, the Messiah would come with pomp and splendor and certainly clue them in.
And yet, this is the very thing that we wonder. How could Israel miss the Messiah? It is a warning to us as well.
History itself attests to the miracles, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of this man. His enemies wrote and attested to these facts. They didn’t question the facts, just the provenance. Instead they attributed it all to Satan.
So, today, what would it take to prove to me that Jesus is the son of God? Why do I not respond when confronted with the evidence?
There comes a point when it is no longer a question of faith but honesty of the heart. Paul speaks of the hardened heart and the unbelieving that turn from God in Hebrews 3:12.
If you still don’t believe today, it is probably time that you asked yourself some serious questions.
Second lesson: Your identity….
In the scriptures, it was common for the people of God to be on trial. If you go to the Old Testament you can see it over and over again. Think of Shadrak Mishac, and Abednego, Daniel was judged and thrown into the lion’s den. In the New Testament Steven was brought to a court of law and stoned for his beliefs. The apostles were dragged before the Sanhedrin and later before the king for their convictions…..
If there is one thing I learn from Jesus today, it is that we should be able to show proof for who we claim to be.
So, is this the case? We say that we are Christians but do we have witnesses to that? Are there great servants of God like John that will testify of our faithfulness and say, “without a doubt I know that … is a Christian!”? Could we justify our claim with works? Does our daily conduct show the love, goodness, faithfulness, and justice of our Heavenly Father? Could people come here and say, “Oh yes, so and so spoke to me of Jesus and helped me discover salvation? X helped my family and I so much!” “What an example of love he/she is!”
If today, I were to search the scriptures, would they bear witness to the path that I have taken? Have you been baptized and washed of your sins? Are you conformed to the right doctrine?
I would like to invite you today, to accept Jesus on the basis of these evidences that were presented and to live in a flagrant and undeniable manner in the faith.
Have I accepted the evidence that proves who Jesus is? And have I accumulated, the proof and witness of what I claim to be? These are very simple questions yet so important.