Sunday, December 03, 2023

“Testimony About Me” [Matt's Messages]

“Testimony About Me”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
December 3, 2023 :: John 5:31-47 

“Do you solemnly swear that the evidence you shall give to the court in this matter shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?”

“Yes, I do so swear.”

Have you ever had to do that?  Have you ever had to give testimony in court? I’ve done it a couple of different times as a witness in a couple different kinds of court cases.

This passage (John 5:31-47) is all about testimony. “Testify, testimony, witness, testifies, accuser, testified.” Testimony is a major theme in the Gospel of John which is concentrated in this short passage.

It’s like there is a big cosmic court case going on and various witnesses are being called to give testimony. And the testimony is being weighed, and sifted, and judged–as valid or invalid, as true or false.

And here’s the question that these expert witnesses are being asked to testify about, “Who is Jesus?” “Is Jesus Who He has claimed to be?”

Jesus has made some pretty big claims, has He not?!

Remember what we heard just last week? Remember those mind-blowing, brain-bending claims that Jesus made about Himself? This is the same chapter. This is the same story. Jesus is still talking at the same time to the same people.

Jesus has healed a man who had been lame for 38 years. With just a word. “Get up. Take up your mat and walk.” And that’s exactly what happened.

But it was a Sabbath, so the Jewish Religious Authorities got mad at Jesus for work done on the Sabbath. And Jesus said, “Yeah, I’m working on the Sabbath. Get used to it. God does that.”  He said it this way: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working” (Jn. 5:17 NIVO).  Remember this?

And they understand what He was saying. He was claiming to be equal with God. So they “tried all the harder to kill Him” (v.18). 

They wanted to kill Jesus.  They heard what He said about Himself, and they rejected it with all their hearts. They rejected Him. And they tried to kill Him.

But Jesus wasn’t done. He had more to say about Who He is. He said that not only is He equal with God, but He is in an unique way, the Son of God. He is God the Son. And He is perfectly in harmony with God the Father. “The Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.” Remember that? That’s verse 20. Profound!

There is only one God but that one God is Son and that one God is Father (and is Spirit, too, we will learn before long). And because God is Son and God is Father, they do everything together perfectly. 

So that Jesus can do what only God can do. Like give life! He has life-in-Himself so He can give it to whom He pleases. And He has authority to judge. He is the Son of Man. And one day, Jesus says that He will speak and that “all who are in their graves will come out.” And He will judge everyone. Every single soul. And He will do it perfectly to the perfect satisfaction of His perfect Father who sent Him. 

Isn’t that mind-blowing? Isn’t that totally amazing?!

What do you think about all of that? It’s either true or it’s false, but either way it’s a big deal. Those are big things to say. Imagine if anyone else said that they are God the Son. With God for all eternity, was God for all eternity, from God from all eternity. Life in Himself and will judge every single soul after raising every single dead person there ever was–with a word.

That’s what He was saying about Himself that day. That was His own testimony about Himself.

And the Jews rejected it. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (Jn. 1:11 NIVO).

And so in the rest of the chapter Jesus shows them where they went wrong.

He shows them step by step by step where they have gone wrong in judging the evidence about His case by calling forth multiple further corroborating expert witnesses. And when He’s done, Jesus says that one day His unbelieving hearers will stand trial themselves and will have to deal with the fact they have misjudged Jesus. 

You and I can learn from this. We can listen to what Jesus says about them and do the exact opposite ourselves. Let’s make that our goal as we listen again to these witnesses that Jesus calls to the stand to give testimony about Him. By my count, there are five of them. 

The first one is Jesus Himself. Look at verse 31. “Court is now in session.”

“‘If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid” (vv.31-32).

Now, what is Jesus saying there? I don’t think He’s saying, “You cannot trust my testimony. I might be lying to you. I may not have told you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” I don’t think that’s what Jesus is saying when He says, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.”

I think He means that you don’t have to just take His word for it. “You don’t have to believe what I’m saying if I’m the only one saying it.”

Here’s why. First off, in their judicial system, you had to have at least two witnesses to establish a fact in their courts of law. It didn’t make it false if you only had one witness, but the second witness was required for establishing something, like a conviction. 

So Jesus is saying, “Yes, I’m saying some big things, but I’m not alone in saying it. I can call at least one other witness who will testify to the same things.”

And Who do you think is? You might guess John the Baptist from what He’s going to say in verse 32, but I think it’s a much greater witness than that by what He says in verse 37. 

It’s God the Father! And that’s the second reason why it’s important that it’s not just Jesus’ testimony alone but the Father’s, as well, because that’s exactly what He has just claimed, isn’t it? That the Son and the Father do everything inseparably in perfect harmony because they are one.

If Jesus’ testimony was different from the Father’s, then it should be rejected! But Jesus says, “There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that His testimony about me [there’s our title for today] is valid.”

He’s going to say more about that in just a few verses. But for now, we enter His testimony into the record. He solemnly swears that He is the Son of Man and the Son of God and God the Son. And salvation is found only Him. 

As He said in verse 24, “I tell you the truth [the whole truth and nothing but the truth], whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (Jn. 5:24 NIVO). Do you believe this testimony about Him?

We call the next witness. His name is John. Verse 33.

‘You have sent to John 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.”

Jesus is talking about what we read about in chapter 1. John’s Testimony about Jesus. 

Remember they sent a delegation to ask John who he thought he was? And he said that he was not the Messiah but he had come to point people to the Messiah. He was the Voice!

Jesus says that John’s testimony was true. Now, when Jesus says that he doesn’t accept human testimony, I think He means that He doesn’t rest His case on human testimony. If John got it right, great. If John got it wrong, no big deal.

Now if Jesus got it wrong, we’re in big trouble. If the Father got it wrong, we’re big trouble. Jesus’ whole case rests on divine testimony. But John got it right. He was the Voice. And if these people listened to John, they would be saved. 

And they did listen to John...for a time. They got all excited about John for a little bit. When John was preaching against the authorities and sticking it ot the man, the crowd was eating it up. But when John pointed at Jesus and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” then they didn’t want to hear any more.

By the way, I would love it if this were said of me when I die, “He was lamp that burned and gave light.” That’s what I want to do. I want to be aflame for Jesus and shine His light. Even if that means I get snuffed out by those who hate the Light.

So that’s John. His testimony about Jesus corroborates Jesus’ testimony  about Himself, but there is much weightier testimony to come. Verse 36.

“‘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.”

Jesus calls witness number three: His own works.

Jesus says, “Even if you don’t believe because of what I say, look at what I do!” 

“Watch me.” Jesus is saying, “Watch me. Watch what I do, and that will testimony about me.”

He’s going to do many more miracles as the chapters of John roll on. And they are all signs. 

And John the Evangelist says that Jesus “did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:30-21:1 NIVO).

Look at those signs and ask yourself, “Is Jesus Who He claimed to be?” Because they are corroborating testimony, too. If Jesus can do heal like this, then maybe He can bring back the dead. And if He can bring back the dead (Yes, I’m looking at you, Lazarus), then maybe He can bring Himself back from the dead. He lay down His life only to take it up again. And if He can do that, then maybe He can die for our sins and come back to life to give us life and then bring back everyone from the dead to be judged.

“[T]he very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me” (v.36).

But that’s not all! Here’s another witness. Witness number four. Jesus calls God the Father to the witness stand! Look at verse 37.

“And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent” (vv.37-38).

Now, there a lot of different ways to think about how the Father has testified concerning the Son.

One of the chief was through the Scriptures which is where Jesus goes next.

But I tend to think that He’s talking in verse 37 about His baptism. Lord-willing we’re going to go Matthew chapter 3 next Sunday and look at Jesus’ baptism when we do a couple of baptisms here ourselves.

Remember what God the Father said at Jesus’ baptism? John the Baptist was doing the dunking, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’” (Matt. 3:17 NIVO). That’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Now, Jesus says here that they have not heard the Father’s voice, but I think He means that they haven’t been listening. They have their ears blocked. They have also not seen his form...[look at verse 38]...nor does [the Father’s] word dwell in you, FOR you do not believe the one he sent.”

“The Father has been saying, ‘This is my Son,’ but you refuse to listen.”

“This is my Son!”
“This is my Son!”

“Whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

And they are saying, “Let’s kill Him.”

Their problem is not that they don’t have enough evidence or testimony to consider. Their problem is that they don’t want to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Which is crazy because they spend their lives studying and studying and studying the Word of God. Look at verse 39.

“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” (vv.39-40).

These guys knew their Bibles. They were always at Bible study.

Bible Bible Bible Bible Bible.

Some of them had the entire Old Testament memorized. They were looking in the right place, but they were going about it all wrong. They were trying to get eternal life from Bible study. "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.”

Eternal life does not come by diligent Bible study. The Bible exists to show us Jesus. The Bible exists to lead us to Jesus. The whole Old Testament exists to lead us to Jesus.

Holly told me last week that they studied the entire story of the Bible at the Advent Waffle Party last Sunday because the entire story of the Bible is about Jesus.

How could they miss Jesus?! Answer: They wanted to miss Jesus. He says, “These are the Scriptures that testify about me yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (vv.38-40).

Notice that this is calling trustworthy witness number five. The Scriptures. They testify about Jesus.

And also notice that the problem is not the Scriptures. It’s the heart of the people studying the Scriptures. They refuse to come to Jesus to have life.

I have four quick points this morning of application, each of them the opposite of what these people were doing wrong, and here’s the first one.


That’s the whole point of this whole gospel. We can have life in Jesus’ name. Or we can refuse to have life in Jesus’ name. That’s our choice. But that’s the only choice. There is no eternal life outside of Jesus. 

Even in the Scriptures. You can study the Bible until you are blue in the face, but if you aren’t studying it to come to Jesus, if you aren’t willing to receive Jesus, then you won’t get what the Bible is saying.

And you won’t get what the Bible is offering, either. 

Come to Jesus to have life.


Jesus says that they have not been doing that. Look at verse 41. 

“‘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.”

How could they go so wrong as to want to kill the Son of God? Well, they didn’t love God, why wouldn’t they want to kill His Son? 

Again, Jesus says that doesn’t “accept” praise or recognition from men. That doesn’t mean that He doesn’t receive our worship. It means that He doesn’t live off of it. He doesn’t need it. He doesn’t live for our opinions of Him. Just like in verse 34, Jesus doesn’t build His case from humanity’s take on Him.

If we get it wrong, He is still the Son of God and God the Son. He doesn’t need humans, but He does know them. As we saw in chapter 2, verse 25, He knows what’s in us. John said, “He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (Jn. 2:25 NIVO).
And in this case, He knew that was in them was hate. “You do not have the love of God in your hearts.” Which could be either love for God or God’s love in their hearts. It probably means both. If you know the love of God for you (which always comes first), then you will love God back. But if you don’t know God’s love then you won’t love God back.

And they certainly did not. And it was clear from how they rejected God’s Son who came under the authority of God the Father. Look at verse 43.

“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.”

Jesus says that these guys want to be deceived and are ripe for being deceived and will soon be deceived. They will accept fakes and snakes and false teachers and even false messiahs.

But they won’t accept Him. They won’t love Him, the Genuine Article.

Beloved, you see how this bothers Jesus? How sad and angry it makes Him? It’s because God is so loving. God so loved the world that He sent His One and Only Son, and the world said, “No thanks.” “We don’t love you.”

We need to be different. We need to cultivate a love for God from our own hearts. And the best way to do that is to dwell on the love of God that came to us first.

Let’s say our memory verse together. Just think about this. Don’t let it get old and stale. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

How else could we respond to that than to love Him back from our hearts?! 

And seek His approval. Look at verse 44.

“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?” Jesus says these people were so focused on what other people thought of them that they forgot to think about what God thinks of them above all.

Let’s make that point number three.


Or as Jesus says, “make an effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God.” 

Now, of course, we can’t do that on our own. We can’t do that in our own power. We can’t do that by mustering up good works that come from our fallen nature. And yet, we can trust God and obey Him and seek to please Him so that one day He says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Not “Perfectly done, O perfect servant.” But “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That comes from living a life of faith. Of keeping our gaze on God. Of wanting to please God above all else.

These people were not focused on pleasing God even though they were very religious! They were very religious in large part to try to impress their neighbors. They were people pleasers and not God-pleasers.

You know how you know? What happens when God wants you to do something unpopular with people? That’s when you know if you are striving to please God or just to please other people.

For example, when God shows up as Jesus and says, “Follow me.” And the crowd says, “Crucify Him.” Which side are you on? Whose opinion do you really care about?

My mentor in pastoral counseling wrote a really great book called, When People Are Big and God Is Small. That’s when we have our priorities upside-down, isn’t it?

Where are the places in your life where you care much more about doing what other people want you to than what God does? We all have them. I have them.

Strive for God to praise you. Care about what God cares about most of all. God be BIG and people be SMALL. It’s easier said than done, but it’s very freeing and joyful in the end. And it’s the opposite of what these people were doing. They were rejecting Jesus because most everyone around them was, too. 
He didn’t look like what they expected or wanted. He didn’t fulfill the picture that they thought Moses had painted of the Messiah to come, but they were all wrong. He was exactly what Moses had promised. Look at verse 45.

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (vv.45-47).

That’s that fifth witness again, the Scriptures. The Jews were in love with the Scriptures, especially the Law of Moses. The Torah. But they were missing the whole point of the Torah. Jesus says that the Torah was about Him. All of what it said about a Messiah to come? About the Advent of the Messiah? That was Jesus all along. “But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?" 

They aren’t. They can’t. They won’t. And they will be lost. Because Jesus is saying that there is another trial coming. And this time, the question before the court will not be, “Who is Jesus?”

It will be, “Who has rejected Jesus?” And Jesus says, He will recall the previous witness for the defense to be a witness for the new prosecution. The Scriptures written by Moses will be called to give testimony, and those who ignored what they said and rejected Jesus will themselves be rejected. How scary.

Beloved, let’s do the opposite.


Believe what Jesus says about Himself.
Believe what John the Baptist said about Jesus.
Believe what the Miraculous Works of Jesus say about Jesus.
Believe what God the Father says about His One and Only Son.
And believe what the Scriptures say about Jesus.

And you will not perish but have eternal life. 

And that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God.


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34
04. "Come and See" - John 1:35-51
05. "The First of His Miraculous Signs" - John 2:1-11
06. "This Temple" - John 2:12-25
07. "You Must Be Born Again" - John 3:1-15
08. "God So Loved The World" - John 3:16-21
09. "Above All" - John 3:22-36
10. "Living Water" - John 4:1-26
11. "Ripe for the Harvest" - John 4:27-42
12. "Your Son Will Live" - John 4:43-54
13. "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk" - John 5:1-18
14. "To Your Amazement" - John 5:19-30