31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is true. 33 “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. 34 Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. 36 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41 “I do not accept glory from human beings, 42 but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. 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. 44 How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. 46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”
Believing is a major theme in John’s gospel. He uses the word 95 times. He tells us he wrote the book so that we could believe that Jesus is the Christ, and so have life. (John 20:31)
Jesus’ disciples believed because of what they saw him doing and heard him saying. Even Samaritans believed in Jesus because of what they saw and heard. Even though a miracle has been done in front of this group of lawyers’ very eyes and Jesus has told them quite explicitly who he is and how he did what he did, they can’t see past their closed interpretation of the law. God has done what only God could do, but it was done on the Sabbath.
I think Jesus would have been justified if he had shaken his head in disbelief at their wilful stupidity. But Jesus is better than that. He works within their (constricting) legal framework of truth: the testimony of three witnesses is conclusive, nothing less.
Today people have other ways of deciding what is true. In our “post-truth” era, some seem strange, but I’m confident that the truth about Jesus stands no matter how you judge truth. I’m challenged to follow Jesus and place myself in the mindset of people I talk to and tell the truth about him in the way that will make it as easy as possible for them to believe.
Jesus was good at knowing how others were thinking, but It’s not so easy for me. I’m sure it involves more listening than speaking, especially listening to the Holy Spirit (John 5:19). I’m sure it needs me to align my heart with his. Holy Spirit, I need you to lead the way here.
Written by David Cornell