When someone makes a big claim, others want proof of the validity of that claim. Jesus Christ just made the claim of not only being the long-awaited Messiah, but also being equal with God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. In this next section (John 5:31-47) He presents four witnesses that give evidence that what He says is true. We will look at each witness separately.
The First Witness Who would you trust to bear witness to a great claim like this? If you were living at this time, and in this place, you would want to hear from a prophet of God when it comes to claims regarding the Messiah. The people of Israel had not had a prophet for 400 years (since Malachi). Recently, however, a wild man named John came baptizing and preaching repentance. Most people could see the evidence that this John was a prophet sent by God; he even looked the part, dressed like Elijah of the ancient past. Knowing this, Jesus presents John the Baptizer as the first witness to take the stand.
The Testimony What did John say that bore witness of Jesus Christ, regarding His Messiahship, and regarding His divinity? John the Apostle specifically details the testimony of John in the first chapter of his gospel. 1:8 “He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” Light: that which expels the darkness, revealing the truth. 1:12 “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” The One: that which reconciles mankind to God, bringing them into adoption and inheritance. 1:14 “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Word: Jesus Christ came to bring God to man, Immanuel (God with us), to show us God’s glory. 1:17 “The law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Grace: God gave us what we did not deserve out of His great love, that which the law could not give. 1:29 “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Lamb: the sacrifice God sent that would pay the penalty of sin for all who accept it, available to all people of all time. 1:34 “I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.” Son: the begotten, yet not created, God became flesh, the Messiah who is God.
The Truth How do we know that what John stated was true, and from God? Jesus told the people, ‘You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.’ All evidence pointed to the fact that everything John said was both true, and regarding Jesus Christ. Truth comes from God, therefore all truth that is presented must be inspired by Him. Later, John presents the teaching of Jesus, that He is the Truth (not a truth, but the truth), an absolute and unchangeable fact.
The Result What is to be done with this testimony of truth? Jesus Christ later tells us, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ (John 8:32) In this set of verses (that we have been examining today), Jesus tells us that this testimony was given ‘that you may be saved.’ When you know and believe the truth about Jesus Christ (who He is), that faith sets you free from the penalty of sin! This is the salvation God offers through His Son to all who believe. The testimony of John is the first of four witnesses to provide the evidence we need to truly believe. What have you done with this evidence?