John 5 begins with Jesus and a man in desperate need of help. The man finds help with Jesus but Jesus finds trouble with the Jews. The Jews confront Jesus and tell Him that He “violated” God’s Law by being an accessory to the “crime” of bed carrying on the Sabbath. Jesus responds by telling them that He had the authority to do what He did and that they were out-of-order in their judgment of Him because they were intentionally ignoring the honor that He was due. He urges them to consider the fact that He could not do what He did without approval from God, His Father. He tells them that their eternal life hinges on the very work that they were rejecting and that His work as God’s Son had the support of other witnesses. So who were these witnesses? To give them an opportunity to find salvation (John 5:34) Jesus didn’t leave them wondering.
Witness #1 On The Stand – The Man Of God Called John.
Jesus told the Jews that He did not need the witness of men, but nonetheless one man that they were very familiar with had told them what they needed to hear even though they rejected his message. The beginning of the apostle John’s gospel described the rejected witness by saying:
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light…John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’” (John 1:6-8, 15)
John understood that his mission was temporary (John 3:30) and he told the Jewish leaders that he was “the voice crying in the wilderness” and that he had a mission to “make straight the way of Lord.” (John 1:23; Isaiah 40:3, 4). John did his job and sent others to Christ (John 1:35-37) but not everyone was willing to listen to him.
Jesus told His accusers that John “was the burning and shining light: and you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.” (John 5:35). At first Jesus’ accusers were happy with John coming on to the scene. After all, they thought the Messiah would follow, Israel would be exalted nationally and the gentiles would be judged! But John spoke the only thing that would truly set them free from their real captors – the truth (John 8:32, 34).
Yes, John’s rejectors listened to him for a while but they didn’t like where he was going with his message. They understood how a sermon about repentance was needed for others but not for themselves! And they were surprised when this witness of the Light refused to be a respecter of their persons! (Matthew 3:1-12)
Jesus’ accusers rejected John and hardened their hearts against him; but with that decision they hardened their heart toward Jesus too. If they refused the proclaimer they would have to refuse the proclaimed by default. But denying John as a witness didn’t change what John saw – it only changed how the rejectors were able to see the light of Jesus…or maybe, to be more correct we should say it changed how the rejectors were able to see Jesus the Light!
John was indeed a great witness to the Light, but Jesus still had greater witnesses to call to the stand for His accusers to examine and He would make the case clear whether they liked the verdict or not. EA