Has anyone ever questioned your authority? What about as a spouse? What about as a parent? What about as an employer? What as a co-worker? What about as a teacher or a coach? Have I ever had someone question my authority as a pastor?
Of course, the answer to this question in all of the scenarios is yes. The good news is that we are in good company. At the end of John 5, we’re going to see that the Jews were questioning Jesus’ authority, and as we have defended ourselves and our position and our authority, Jesus is going to do the same.
In John 5:1-15, Jesus healed a man who had been crippled for 38 years. Instead of celebrating, many questioned Jesus’ authority to do this.
Jesus then began in verse 24 defending Himself by claiming that He was God. He then continued by claiming that He was the giver of life.
In today’s text, Jesus is going to defend Himself by reminding the Jews and us of that testified to witnessed to His authority. He is going to point to God the Father, John the Baptist, His own works or signs, the Holy Scriptures, and the prophet Moses. All pointed to Him and His authority.
Keep in mind that He couldn’t just say, “I have authority” because being a good Jews, He knew what the Old Testament required. See Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15.
6 Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.
15 “One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.
Jesus acknowledged His understanding and submission to the Old Testament Law in 5:31.
- The Testimony of God the Father, John 5:32, 37-38
32 There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true…37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe.
In verse 32, He speaks of another who truthfully and accurately testifies of Him. Jesus is actually talking about God the Father. We know that by the use of the word “another.” Jesus is speaking of “another” of the same kind meaning deity or divinity. God the Father testifies about His Son and testifies truthfully.
Verses 37-38 further expand the Father’s testimony, but these Jews had never heard His voice or seen His form like their ancestors. As a result, they did not have His word abiding in them, and they didn’t believe Him even though He was telling the truth.
You may be wondering when the Father testified about Jesus. Certainly, the entire Old Testament points to Christ, but we explicitly see the Father testifying about the Son at His baptism. See Matthew 3:13-17.
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. 16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
We also see God the Father testifying about His Son at the Transfiguration. See Matthew 17:1-5.
1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
God the Father testified about the authority of Jesus.
- The Testimony of John the Baptist, John 5:33-35
33 You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Yet I do not receive testimony from man, but I say these things that you may be saved. 35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing for a time to rejoice in his light.
Second, Jesus presents the testimony of John the Baptist, the forerunner to Christ. These Jews were so interested and curious about John the Baptist, they sent a delegation to question him back John 1:19, but they didn’t believe him as he testified about the truth of Jesus.
19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
Verse 34 says that Jesus didn’t need John’s testimony, but His critics would have been wise to heed John’s testimony as John said what he said concerning their salvation. See John 1:29-34.
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ 31 I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” 32 And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”
These Jews did receive and respect John’s witness for a while. However, they did not accept it ultimately.
By the way, notice the past tense in verse 35. He was the burning and shining lamp. John the Baptist was either in prison or could even have been dead already, but he testified about the authority of Jesus.
- The Testimony of Miraculous Signs, John 5:36
36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.
The third evidence that Jesus gives regarding Himself is the miraculous signs or works that He has performed. Verse 36 says that these works testify to the authenticity of Christ.
Up to this point, John has recorded Jesus turning water into wine: John 2:11.
He healed royal official’s son: John 4:54.
Most recently, in 5:1-15, He healed this crippled man who had been lame for 38 years. These signs or works testified to the watching world that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah, and they testify to His authority.
- The Testimony of the Scriptures, John 5:39-44
39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?
In our next six verses, beginning in verse 39, Jesus acknowledged that His critics were faithful students of the Scriptures. However, they have the forest because of the trees. They were so preoccupied with the details of Scripture that they have missed the big picture of Scripture, and that is the fulfillment of Jesus as the Promised Messiah.
As a result, they were missing out on eternal life because they thought the Scriptures gave eternal life rather than Jesus. This is remarkable. The focus of divine revelation is God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and these folks missed it.
They had received others who were false prophets, but because they were unwilling according to verse 40 and prideful according to verse 44, they did not receive the one and only true God. It simply escaped them even being right under their noses.
- The Testimony of Moses, John 5:45-47
45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
Finally, in these final three verses, Jesus gave His fifth piece of evidence that testifies about Himself, and that is the testimony of Moses. Moses is second only to the promised Messiah as far as rank and authority in Judaism.
However, Moses testified about Jesus in His writings, and yet, these Jews didn’t believe Him and are now not believing Jesus. See Deuteronomy 18:15-22.
15 “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, 16 according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ 17 “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. 18 I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 19 And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. 20 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Applications and Conclusions
For the saved person, does Jesus have authority in your life? Is He the authority in your marriage and with your children and with your money and at your Job and in your classroom? If not, would you surrender to Him today?
So how does all of this apply to me this morning? For the lost person, would you believe today after hearing these evidences? Would you believe today while you still have a chance because there will come a day when your chances will be gone. See Luke 16:19-31.
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ 27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”