The Third Witness of Who Jesus Is.

John 5 is a robust chapter recounting Jesus’ time spent in Jerusalem telling religious unbelievers that He is God. This is where threats upon Jesus’ life begin. For the next 3 years, He lives under these threats because of His works and His words, which proclaim that He is God.

“You examine the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is those very Scriptures that testify about Me; and yet you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 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. How can you believe, when you accept glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have put your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

– John 5:39-47

The ultimate rejection of the scriptural revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God is the third core problem of the Jews. When John writes of the Jews, he is speaking to and about the religious leaders in Israel. It is the religious leaders who are rejecting the third and final witness from God the Father of Jesus’ deity.

Unwilling to Come

Jesus summarizes the issue in John 5:40 when he says, “you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” One of the greatest truths of the Bible is that man who remains in unbelief is unwilling to come to God in salvation through Jesus Christ, His Son. The entire story of Scripture is God offering salvation and man rejecting it. Essentially, by this rejection, man sentences himself to Hell, the place that God created for Satan and his angels.

The reason the Gospel of John was written is "that you might believe and by believing you might have eternal life in His name." It’s really that simple. Jesus is enough to save. Anything added to Him or taken away from Him is a false gospel. Don’t fall into the company of those in verse 40. You never want to be on judgment day with the label of the person who was unwilling to come to Jesus as the Son of God.

Search the Scriptures

Having heard from two of the testimonies from the Father of who Jesus is, John now introduces the third. Those who heard and saw Jesus enjoyed verification after verification, sign after sign, and miracle after miracle, and still they were unwilling to come. Nonetheless, Jesus continues in the first part of verse 39: “You search the Scriptures…”

We know that the Scriptures, referred to here as the whole of the Law, are the Words of God to us in written form to point us to repentance in faith. We also know that the Scriptures don’t save us. Jesus saves. Besides Christ, the Bible is our greatest possession. God used the Word of God to point us to Jesus.

The problem the Jews had was thinking that in searching the Scriptures, they had eternal life. It was priceless to them. Their goal was to earn acceptance from God through their thorough investigation of the Scriptures.

Jesus’ conclusion to the purpose of the Law is found in the second part of verse 39: “it is those very Scriptures that testify about Me.” Even though a person may examine all of Moses’ words, they can miss the Scriptures’ actual message. In verse 46-47, Jesus says, “for if you believe Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

The Scriptures Witness

Could it be that Moses himself will stand with Jesus at the final judgement, serving as a witness that everything he wrote was a divine witness that Jesus is the Son of God? Like John, Moses wrote so that you will place your faith in Jesus.

John makes it clear throughout his gospel that Jesus is the One the Scriptures points us to. (See John 1:45, 2:22, 3:10, 20:9 and other passages.)

There is no greater arrogance than religious unbelievers who have had Jesus’ deity verified for them by so many Divine layers yet still reject Him. Simply put, Jesus the Son of God will never be enough for any religion, self-sufficient person, or establishment. This is what is so hard for our religious world to understand. They know so much about God and the Bible, but their hearts can still be far from Him.

Application Points

Not everyone who says to Jesus ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of the Father will enter (Matthew 7:21). Many people will enter Hell who knew the Scriptures well, but didn’t know Jesus as their Savior.

  • Does your faith rest in your knowledge of the Bible or your behavior? Neither of these are sufficient. Who or what do you trust? Are you trusting in material possessions or the Scriptures? Do you trust in God and His Word, or the things of this world and your own accomplishments?
  • If you are in unbelief, it is not because of a lack of evidence, a lack of testimony, a lack of sufficient sacrifice in Christ for your sin, or a lack of simplicity of the Gospel message. We all must do something with Jesus Christ.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Matthew 7:21-23 – Some will claim entrance to Heaven based on their knowledge of Jesus
  • John 3:10 – Nicodemus’ witness that Jesus must come from God
  • Matthew 11:13
  • Matthew 23:4 – The behavior of religious people
  • Romans 7:10
  • Galatians 3:21
  • John 5:21-26
  • Luke 24:27 – Jesus explaining how the Scriptures points to Himself
  • John 1:45 – Philip explains to Nathaniel that Jesus is who Moses wrote about
  • John 2:22 – The temple cleansing
  • John 20:9 – Post-resurrection appearance of Jesus
Quotes to Ponder

“By predictive prophecy, by type, by revelatory event, and by anticipatory statue, what we call the Old Testament is understood to point to Christ, His ministry, His teaching, His death and His resurrection.”
– D. A. Carson

“If, therefore, some of the Jews refuse to come to Jesus for life, that refusal constitutes evidence that they were not reading their Scriptures as they meant to be read."
– D. A. Carson