Jesus on trial calls his fourth witness – John 5:31-47, Part 4

Now we arrive at the fourth and final witness that Jesus calls to the stand in his defense.  In John 5, verses 38-39 we read,

“…nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me.”

Do you hear a bit of a tone in Jesus’ voice?  Though he’s the one on trial, he’s starting to turn on the leaders.  As we learned in the previous post, in verse 37 Jesus said that the religious leaders don’t hear God’s voice or see him.  Now he has more accusations against them.  Jesus is suggesting that he is not the one that ought to be on trial; those religious leaders should be on trial.  How so? Jesus makes this clear with the fourth witness, as he calls the Scriptures to take the stand. 

He starts with a slam when he says God’s word doesn’t dwell in them.  Quite a thing to say about people who make a living being Bible scholars.  These guys went through years of school, studied the Hebrew Bible inside and out, and yet Jesus says they are misinterpreting the Bible.  Knowledge of the Scriptures neither equates to hearing from God, nor does it guarantee we will live like Jesus. Those religious leaders are a case in point.

The fact that they don’t believe him shows that they are misinterpreting the Bible.  But what can he say?  They don’t believe him. 

This is ironic, Jesus says, because the religious leaders diligently study the Scriptures thinking that they have eternal life.  But they are missing out, because they are missing what the Scripture says about him.  The Scriptures testify about Jesus.  When Jesus says, “Scripture,” he is referring to the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament.  It was written before Jesus was born, and in it there are loads of prophecies that find their fulfillment in Jesus as the Messiah.  The Hebrew Bible prophesies, for example, that the Messiah would be born of a virgin, in Bethlehem, of the lineage of the great King David, and many others.  The Gospel of Matthew does a great job detailing some of the prophecies fulfilled in the life of Jesus.  Jesus is right, Scripture affirms that he is the Messiah.

Four witnesses have taken the stand, and four witnesses have authenticated that Jesus is who he says he was.  John the Baptist, Jesus’ own miracles, God the Father and as we saw above, the Scriptures.

Jesus has built a masterful case.  How will the religious respond?  In verse 40 we read,

“…yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

The religious leaders have asked Jesus to authenticate his ministry.  He did so with gusto.  Four solid witnesses.  There is excellent evidence to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the savior.  But the religious leaders still won’t believe.  As Jesus gives his closing statement and rests his case, you can hear the sadness in his voice.

“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. 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. 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? 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?”

The situation is bleak.  The religious leaders refuse to believe in Jesus.  Even after such rock-solid witnesses, four of them, who each give powerful testimony. 

What about us?  It seems to me that there are three common responses to the evidence Jesus presents in his trial. We’ll look at those in the next post.

Photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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