Witnesses to Jesus

John 5:30-38 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that bears witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witness of me is true. You sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that you might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent him you believe not. 

The Son can do nothing of Himself (John 5:17,19, 30; 8:18, 28); He seeks not His own will, but the will of the Father (John 6:38); His doctrine is not His, but the Father’s who sent Him (John 7:16; 8:26,38).John 5:31

‘If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.’ For a witness to be legally true and acceptable there must be two or three witnesses (Deut. 17:6).

‘Another that bear witness of me’ this refers to the Father (John 7:28; 8:26; Mat. 3:17; 17:5). He did not here refer to John the Baptist who also witnessed of Him (John 5:33-35), but to the Father and the works which are greater witnesses than John (John 5:36-38).

John the Baptist ‘was a burning and a shining light’ which was a common rabbinic idiom for a famous man; the Jews rejoiced in him for a season, thus did they believed John to be a prophet. A prophet cannot lie, so why didn’t they believe what John said of Christ (John 1:29)?

‘You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His shape.’ – You Jews here today have never heard the Father’s voice as did Israel at Sinai (Deut. 5:22-33 and others in Mat. 3:17; 17:5); nor have you seen His shape as men in other ages have seen His physical form (Gen. 18:1-8; 32:24-30; Exo. 24:9-11; Jos. 5:13-15; Jdg. 6:11-23; 13:3-23; etc). This proves that God has both a voice and a bodily shape.

Friend of the Bridegroom

John 3:28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that has the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which stand and hear him, rejoice greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 

The friend of the bridegroom is the one who played an important part in the wedding ceremonies, and sometimes conducted the negotiations between the bride and groom. The friend, at the time of the first meeting of the bride and groom, stands just outside the door to hear how delighted the groom is about his bride.

‘This my joy, therefore, is fulfilled’ This does not mean John was not to be a member of the future bride of Christ, for he will be. The heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, is the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2, 9-10). All Old Testament saints (Heb. 11:10-16) and all New Testament saints will go there (Heb. 13:14; John 14:1-3). This includes John the Baptist and other saints of all ages from Abel to the end of the first resurrection (1Cor. 15:23, 51-58; 1Thess. 4:16; Rev. 20:4-6). All John expresses here is the fact that he is not the bridegroom, but his friend, as are all saints who are friends of the bridegroom (John 15:13-15). As John invited people to Christ, so do all the members of the bride (Rev. 22:17).

All Things

John 3:22-27 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison. Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptize, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 

Jesus left Jerusalem after the Passover and was either back in Samaria or Galilee (John 2:13). According to John 4:2, Jesus himself did not baptize, but His disciple did.

John the Baptist was baptizing in Aenon (Greek word Ainon which means springs), a town on the west of Jordan, about 87 km northeast of Jerusalem in Samaria. There was much water because of the many springs and streams that were suitable for baptizing.

The question that arose between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying, was whether John’s baptism or the legal ceremonies of the Jews were the most effectual to purify sin ceremonially.

John’s answer: “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” How literally true! We earn and deserve nothing, but God gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness – now and hereafter (2Pet. 1:3-11; 2Cor. 1:20).

Calling of the First Disciples

John 1:35-42  Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek you? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwell thou? He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first finds his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. 

Two of John the Baptist’s disciples, the one was Andrew (Peter’s brother), the other probably John the Apostle, as he never mentions himself in this book. They looked upon (Jesus) the Greek word emblepo, which means to look with fixed eyes upon or look intently as they heard John the Baptist say: “Behold the Lamb of God!” A symbol of Christ used thirty-two times in the Bible.

Andrew and John asked Jesus “Rabbi, (which means Master) where dwell thou?” Jesus told them, “Come and see.” So, they came and saw where He stayed and stayed with Him for that day because it was already the tenth hour – 4 pm.

‘found the Messias’ Finding Jesus changes one’s life (2Cor. 5:17-18). Messias is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Mashiyach, meaning anointed (John 4:25; 1Sam. 2:10, 35; Psa. 2:2; Dan. 9:25-26). The equivalent of mashiyach in the Greek is Christos, used of Jesus 569 times in the New Testament.

‘Cephas’ is the Aramaic word for stone (1Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Gal. 2:9). And ‘stone’ is the Greek word petros which means little stone, rock and 161 other places translated “Peter”. This shows how Jesus could judge a man at the first look. He knew Peter to be firm and strong in soul, and hard and unyielding in purpose.

Behold, the Lamb of God

John 1:29-34  The next day John see Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptize with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. 

John the Baptist saw Christ and proclaimed “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” This is the first New Testament prophecy fulfilled in John. Lamb of God is a symbol of Christ, mentioned thirty-two times (Isa. 53:7; John 1:36; Acts 8:32; 1Pet. 1:19; Rev. 5:6-13; 6:1, 16; 7:9-17; 12:11; 13:8; 14:1-10; 15:3; Rev. 17:14; 19:7-9; 21:9-27; 22:1-3). The Greek word for taketh away is airo, which means to bear in the sense of removing sin; doing away with the guilt and punishment (1Pet. 2:24; Psa. 103:12; 1Jn. 3:5). The Greek word for sin is hamartia, which means missing the mark; always in a moral sense – a sin, whether by omission or commission, in thought, word, or deed. Christ came to teach men how to shoot straight – to hit the moral bull’s eye every time (Tit. 2:11-14; 1Jn. 2:1-2, 29; 3:9; 5:1-4, 5:18).

‘For he was before me’ – Christ lived before John as the second person of the Trinity “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” Micah 5:2 (See also Isa. 9:6-7; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 1:8.) John did not know Jesus, but he did know the Father who sent Jesus (v33). The Greek word for manifest is phaneroo, which means to bring to light. Here, it means to introduce the Messiah to Israel (John 1:11; Matt. 15:24).

John bare record, the Greek word martureo means bearing witness. There was seven witnesses to the Messiah: The Father (John 5:30-38; 8:13-18); the Son (John 5:17-27; 8:14; 18:37); the Holy Spirit (John 15:26; 16:13-15); the written Word (John 1:45; 5:38, 46); Divine works (John 5:17, 36; 10:25; 14:11; 15:24); John the Baptist (John 1:7,32-34; 5:33-35); and the Disciples (John 15:27; 19:35; 21:24).

The Greek word for abode is meno which means abide, dwell, remain. Occurs 41 times in John and only 12 times in the other gospels.

‘He that sent me’ is a clear reference to the Trinity. The Son he did not know; the Father he did know; and the Spirit he saw coming from the Father upon the Son (Matt. 3:16-17; Lk.3:22). The Greek word for see is eidon which means to see; not only the mere act of looking but the actual perception of the object. Thus, not only have the Father and Son been seen with human eyes as separate and distinct persons at the same time and place (Dan. 7:9-14; Acts 7:55; Rev. 5:7; 7:10), but the Holy Spirit as a separate person from both the Father and the Son has been seen.

‘Spirit descending, and remaining on him’ is a fulfilment of Isaiah 11:2; 42:1; 61:1 and recorded in Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:10 and Luke 3:22. Christ is the one who baptizes in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Lk. 3:16; 24:49; John 7:37-39; 15:16-17, 26; Acts 1:4-8; 11:16).

Baptism

John 1:25-28  And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptize thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there stand one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 

Jews were accustomed to making converts by ceremonial cleansing, but never without an order from the Sanhedrin or before three magistrates or doctors of the law. They, therefore, felt jealous of John, who not only baptized without Jewish authority but baptized Jews contrary to the practice of the Pharisees.

John’s reason for baptizing was that the Messiah should be made manifest (known) to Israel (John 1:26-31).  There are seven baptisms in Scripture: John’s baptism in water to introduce Christ to Israel (Matt. 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-45; Lk. 3:1-38; 7:29-30; John 1:31-33; 3:23-26; 10:40; Acts1:5; 11:16; 19:3); Christ’s baptism in water (John 3:22; 4:1-2) which announced the beginning of His three year ministry and showed His purpose as the one without sin that will clean the world with water (washing in the Word) and by shedding His blood at His crucifixion (1Jn 5:7-8); Baptism in suffering (Lk. 12:50); Baptism in the cloud and in the sea (1Cor. 10:2) refers to Moses and the nation Israel going through the Red Sea that was a type of the washing that we have to go through for salvation as we are called out of the bondage of sin (Egypt); and the last three that is relevant and necessary for today’s Christians:  Baptism into Christ and into His body (Rom. 6:3-7; 1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12) at repentance and the new birth; Christian baptism in water (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-41; 8:12-16, 36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15, 33; 18:8; 19:5; 22:16; 1Cor. 1:13-17; 1Pet. 3:21) this is for testifying of dying to one’s old nature after being reborn; Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11, 14; 20:22-23; Mark 1:810:38-39; Lk. 3:16; John 1:33; 7:37-39; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:2-3) which is the enduement of power for service.

The Holy Spirit is the agent to baptize into Christ and into His body; Christ is the agent to baptize in the Holy Spirit, and the minister is the agent to baptize into water (Matt. 28:19).

The Testimony of John the Baptist

John 1:19-24  And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What say thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. 

John the Baptist was not the Christ, Elijah, or anyone else who had lived in the past. He was the natural son of Zacharias and Elizabeth (Lk. 1:24, 1:57). He came in the spirit and power of Elijah to do for Israel before the first coming, what Elijah will do before the second coming (Mal. 4:5-6; Lk. 1:17). This explains Matthew 11:14 and 17:10-13.

He was the prophet that Moses predicted would come (Deu. 18:15-18; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37).

‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias’ is the first Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in the gospel of John.

Malachi 3:1 predicted of John “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom you delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

To Bear Witness

John 1:6-11  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which light every man that come into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 

This John refers to John the Baptist, used 20 times in this gospel and never by the title ‘Baptist’ as in the other gospels; he is not to be confused with John the Apostle who is the author of this gospel as well as 1,2,3 John and Revelation. John the Baptist was not the light but came to witness of the Light – the true Light that is Jesus Christ the Messiah (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:35-46) so that men can believe through Him (John 14:6) and be reconciled with the Father.

Jesus Christ became flesh – He came into the world – the same world (earth) He created (Col. 1:15-17) and they (people) knew Him not – most people chose not to have a relationship with God and when Christ came, He did not come as they would have preferred: as a king and to set them free from earthy rulers, but instead He came as a pauper and came to free us of sin, so the people rejected Him. Even His own nation, the Jews (or Israel) through whom He could demonstrate to other nations what God purposed for mankind.