The Greater Witness
John 5:31-40
If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.…

Jesus was competent to bear witness to His own glory; so was the Father and the Holy Ghost. Each did, and they alone are competent witnesses. Besides the testimony of the Father through John there were —


1. By the works which He gave Jesus to finish (ver 36). John's mission served its end by calling attention to them: the works themselves are now put in evidence.

(1) What were they? Not miracles merely, but all that required to be performed for man's salvation.

(2) In what sense were they "given" Him?

(a)  In the everlasting covenant;

(b)  When He was instituted in His mediatorial office;

(c)  In token not only of the Father's love for the elect, but for His Son.

(3) They were given Him to finish. Not to enter on and fail to accomplish. All heaven and earth were entitled to act on the assurance that there could be but one issue.

(4) Yet the works were His, done by His own inherent, personal, almighty power, and of His independent sovereign will.

(5) These works bore witness that the Father had sent Him. They were evidences not of an ordinary prophetic, but of an extraordinary Messianic mission.

2. The Father had directly borne witness to Him (ver. 17): Here also was testimony greater than John's.

(1) Christ doubtless referred to His baptism. Never had such a testimony been borne before. "Unto which of the angels," etc. The Father's voice was heard; the emblem cf the Spirit was seen; the image of the invisible God was revealed. Thus the triune Jehovah visited the East. It was a descent more glorious than on Sinai. Jesus now appealed to it.

(2) The Jews sought after a sign. Here was one. It had not been given in a corner. It bore testimony to the Only Begotten, but notwithstanding, the Jews remained in their unbelief.

3. This constituted their great sin which led ultimately to the cross. Unbelief is no less an evil in us. The evidence that Jesus is the Messiah is complete: who of us believes it unto salvation? What then if we be guilty of crucifying Christ afresh.

II. CHRIST'S APPEAL TO THE JEWS ON THIS SUBJECT FOR THEIR CONVICTION consists of three charges. 1 (ver. 37). The Saviour spoke here of all the ways in which the Father had testified of Him. The Father's voice was uttered through Moses, the prophets, John, at Jordan and through the "works." But to them it was as though it had never spoken. They enjoyed such opportunities as their fathers never enjoyed. Some of these, however, had heard and seen. Abraham, Jacob, Moses. 2 (ver. 38). It was their national boast that they had the Scriptures, and a deep though superstitious regard for them. But they had not the word abiding in them. It was not so with all, however, e.g., Mary, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, Andrew, Philip, Nathanael. How common now the former case, how rare the latter, and the consequent acceptance or rejection of Christ. 3 (vers. 39, 40).

(1) He praised them for the duty. But how much depends on the spirit and aim of the search. Theirs was fruitless through prejudice.

(2) They searched but did not come to the eternal life. Their discovery was an hallucination. How sad to read and hear about Christ and not find Him.

(A. Beith, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

WEB: "If I testify about myself, my witness is not valid.

The Great Refusal
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