“But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
The conflict intensifies between Jesus and the Jewish leaders—an antagonism that would eventually lead to his crucifixion. Why the enmity? It was not just because of Jesus’ Sabbath breaking, but because he made claims that gave him equal status with God—an affirmation we encountered in the first verse of John’s Gospel: “the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1). Only God can save us, and Jesus, God incarnate, is the second member of the Trinity.
Jesus claimed a unique filial relationship with God as Father, an assertion which in that culture gave him divine status and amounted to blasphemy in the eyes of the Jews (Jn. 5:18). But Jesus did not back down. He claimed the Father’s works as his own, including raising the dead—a boast he would prove by raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn. 11), an act that not only created greater opposition from his religious antagonists but was also a preview of his own resurrection.
To honor Jesus is to honor the Father (Jn. 5:23). In fact, we too can know God as our Father if we honor Jesus—that is, if we believe on him (Jn. 1:12; 14:9). We pass from judgment to life because Jesus took our judgment on the cross (Jn. 5:22–24; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21). Our adoption is secured by Jesus’ propitiating (turning away, satisfying) God’s wrath.
According to Jesus, the only way we can derive life from the Scriptures is to see Jesus in the Scriptures, for all the Scriptures bear witness to him (Jn. 5:30–47; cf. Lk. 24:27, 44–47). The entire Bible, Genesis to Revelation, is ultimately about Jesus. Throughout Scripture God is unfolding the grace that culminates in Christ (Jn. 5:39–40). The Bible is therefore not fundamentally about what we do for God but what God does for us.
The Jews, tragically, preferred receiving glory from one another rather than seeking the glory of God (Jn. 5:44). No sin or idolatry is more insidious and destructive than living for the approval of people (Prov. 29:25). In the gospel of grace, we are liberated from the need to be approved by people because in Jesus we have been approved by the only One whose approval matters and the only One whose approval satisfies.
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit GospelTransformationBible.org.