Lesson 43: Sermon on the Authority of the Son (Cont'd)
Luke 7:18-35, John 5:30-47
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome again! This is lesson #43. Our break came right in the middle of Jesus' sermon at Jerusalem. We got down through John 5:29 in our last lesson. The Pharisees had charged that Jesus broke the sabbath and made himself equal with God. Jesus' sermon, John 5:19-47 is Jesus' answer to that charge. In the verses that we covered, v.19-29 Jesus showed his relationship to God the Father AND his relationship to us, i.e. mankind. Now, what's the next thing that pops into YOUR mind? What I'm trying to say is, considering the setting, i.e. assume you were there in that crowd. ASSUME, you were a Pharisee who had misgivings about Jesus, as they did. But, assume also, of course, that you were honest. What would your next question be? Jesus, how can WE be SURE that you're the messiah that you claim to be? Is that it? In other words, what about credibility? Alright, Jesus anticipated that question, and answered that question before it was asked. Just like Nicodemus! So, that's Jesus' discussion in v.30-47. I suggest you turn the tape player off and re-read that section again. Familiarize yourself with the reading one more time. We read it on the tape in our last lesson; so, I won't read it today. But get it clearly embedded in YOUR mind.
V.30 is a summary or a re-statement of v.19-29. You see, the rest of Jesus' sermon is predicated upon this thought. Therefore, Jesus restated the thought. It's that basic principle Jesus gave, back up in v.19, "I can of mine own self do nothing." You see, that puts Jesus in an unbiased position. He seeks what the Heavenly Father wants. So, he says, "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." (v.30). Now, let's get down to the credibility question. Jesus said in v.31, "If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true." You see, if Jesus merely made these statements as a man, without proof; then, the Pharisees would have had reason to doubt his credentials. In other words, God does not expect anyone to have blind faith in Jesus. Belief in Jesus Christ, or faith in Jesus as the Christ (same thing) is reasonable. John said that he wrote THIS BOOK "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20:31). So you see, the question is HANDLED HERE honestly, frankly, above board and Jesus conceded at the beginning that you or any one else are not required (or commanded) to believe on the basis of blind faith. To have faith means to believe. To believe means to understand to the point that you are convince, i.e. you have confidence in what you are doing. There is a REASON for your action AND that reason penetrates every nick and cranny of your lifestyle. There's nothing artificial about it. I wish more people understand faith in the Bible sense. Some people talk about faith like it's a contagious disease. They think it hits you like a mysterious whammy, similar to a stray bullet. It's NOT some mysterious religious superstitious phenomenon better felt that told. Faith in Jesus Christ is NOT something artificial.
V.31, DOESN'T mean that Jesus WAS NOT a credible witness. The point is, to be a true prophet requires more than someone simply declaring themselves. John said, "Beloved...try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (I John 4:1). So, no one is condemned for seeking real evidence. We are ENCOURAGED to check the evidence. But, of course, when the evidence is there; then, we should be convinced and act accordingly. Thus, faith is a natural result. How do you know that George Washington was the first elected president of the United States? Is that just a theory, or a possibility, or a supposition, or a superstition? Of course NOT! It's an established fact of history. If you have any credible reason to doubt that Geroge was the first president; then you don't believe it. You do NOT have faith that George was the first president. Incidentally, why do you believe that George Washington was the first elected president of the United States? You say: well, we have credible witness. And, that a good reason. The same thing is' true about Jesus as the Christ, God Son, you see. You do not know that George Washington was the first president/ in the absolute sense. You was not there when he was inaugurated. You didn't personally/ see, smell, hear, taste or feel it. But, you believe it to the extent that your actions are predicated upon that fact. If I questioned that fact, you would no doubt honestly try to convince me that it is a fact. Why? Because you believe it! You see! If you are strongly convinced George was the first president; you might even say: "OH! I KNOW, George Washington, was the first president." And, that's all right! It's permissible to say we know something, when we are simply expressing very strong faith that we would be willing to stake our life on. To be a Christian you must have faith, that Jesus Christ is God's Son. You are NOT required to have absolute knowledge. The apostle Paul said: "we walk by faith, and not by sight." (II Cor. 5:7). But the question here is, how do you get that faith? The answer is, as we've already demonstrated, that you must have evidence (Jesus used the word "witness" in v.31), i.e. evidence that persuades you and convinces you that it's true. History is replete with self-styled prophets that woke up one morning and said, I dreamed I'm a prophet, therefore I'm a prophet, and you must accept me as a prophet. Jesus is saying that, that kind witness is not true. It takes more evidence than that. That is not reasonable evidence.
Now, what reasonable evidence DID Jesus have? That's the question! And that's the answer Jesus gave in v.32-47. Let's look at it! V.32, "There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true." Now, in v.33-34-35 Jesus makes it plain that he is speaking of John the Baptist. Jesus says these Jews had already checked with John the Baptist and Jesus is saying I CAN ASSURE YOU that John bare witness of the truth. In the last of v.34, Jesus said the reason that he went to all this trouble to explain this is, THAT—YE—MIGHT—BE—SAVED. Then in v.35, Jesus says in essence; you believed John at first "ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." The question is, why did you change? You see, it was not because they had reasonable evidence to convince them otherwise. It was because, Jesus didn't fit their opinion, and their desires, and their expectations of a messiah. It was not that He didn't fulfil the scripture. He did! But, he didn't fulfill their traditions and that's what disappointed them.
Then, in v.36, Jesus said, "But I have greater witness than that of John..." Now, John the apostle who wrote this, said in John 1:6-7, that John the Baptist came from God for a witness. That vas the most important purpose of John the Baptist; to establish the identity of Jesus. And, John did his job well. But, then in v.36 Jesus says in essence, if that's not enough to convince you, then I have a greater witness than John. "The works which the Father hath given me to finish..." Jesus here was talking about (evidence #2) the miracle, that they had just witnessed at the pool of Bethesda in the healing of a man that had an infirmity for 38 years. They could inspect the man, check him out, and have first hand knowledge. And that was just one miracle, out of many. Then, ultimately (#3) Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection from the grave, not complete at that time. But that would establish the point again. So, if John the Baptist is not credible enough for you; just stick around, you see. The works of Jesus would ultimately prove him true. Evidence (#4), God had born witness of Jesus already (v.37) at the Jordan River when Jesus was baptized of John to fulfill all righteousness.
Evidence # 5, (v.39), "Search the Scriptures!" They claimed to believe the Scriptures, "in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." Do you remember the sermon on the mount, Matt. 5:17? Jesus said, "I am come...to fulfil." Every "i" would be dotted, every "t" would be crossed. You see, all of this hinges on to that basic theme that Jesus gave. "I can not of mine own self do nothing." So, just as his authority came from the Heavenly Father (v.27); even so the evidence and witness to establish Christ's identity came from the Heavenly Father. Even John the Baptist1 credentials were established in the Old Testament.
Then finally, evidence # 6, they claimed to believe Moses (v.46) and Jesus said Moses wrote of him, (that is) Jesus. I suppose that many scriptures could be cited. But, one of the more prominent prophesies that establishes this, we have already looked at, Deut. 18:18. But, of course, they would not accept the writings of Moses on this point. So, Jesus asked (v.47) "how shall ye believe my words?" The point is that you cannot believe in the O.T. and you cannot believe in Moses with out believing in Jesus. One establishes the other. And, Jesus considered this adequate evidence, so He brought that sermon to a close. We are not told the reaction of the crowd. John here in a round about way passes these same thoughts on to you and me for our consideration. It was the very purpose of John's book.
How long Jesus stayed at Jerusalem on this occasion we have no statement. Possibly he hurried back into Galilee to continue the work there. It's true that the seeds of opposition were beginning to germinate among the scribes and Pharisees. But, one of the great chores and one of the great challenges of Jesus' ministry was immediately ahead. I'm talking about the training of the 12 apostles that had recently been appointed. Getting them prepared spiritually was no small task. If this was the passover of AD 31, as we have assumed, then only 24 months were left for training before that passover in AD 33 when Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended shortly there after to sit on his throne as the King of his kingdom.
John the Baptist had been in prison possibly six months or more. That's long enough for any man to become a little distraught in a place like that. John sent a message to Jesus recorded in Luke 7:18-35. Let's read that, beginning in Luke 7:18, let's read. "And the disciples.of John showed him of all these things. And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight. Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings' courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least, in the kingdom of God is greater than he. And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the market place, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you,' and he have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom is justified of all her children."
O.K. There is a sequel to this in the first 19 verses of Matthew ch. 11. But, we're going to hold that reading until our next lesson. Nothing was told us HERE about John's condition in prison. He was apparently permitted to have visitors. Because, it says John's disciples showed him all these things, and it says John called unto him two of his disciples. However, from the message that John sent to Jesus; it would appear that John was becoming somewhat despondent and his plight in prison life may have caused him to question his own actions. John you will recall, until the time of his imprisonment was depicted as an out-doors type of individual, rugged, with a frontier-type personality. This was obviously quite a conflict with such tedious confinement. Furthermore, we may deduct from this that there had been no direct contact or communication between John and Jesus in those intervening months. Some have used John doubts here to discredit John as a prophet; saying that if he was an inspired man having the Holy Spirit from his mother's womb he would NOT1 have any doubts of this kind. However, instead of US attempting to set the standard of conduct for God's prophets; I believe it would be wiser for us to study John's case as revealing to us the true nature of inspiration and how the H.S. dwelt in such men. It teaches us that such men were men. The Holy Spirit of God directed and assisted the prophets in accomplishing their assigned task; but they were NOT puppets on a string without feeling or human imperfections. As a matter of fact, almost every prophet in the O.T. and the apostles in the N.T. are depicted as having human shortcomings, including Moses, the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul. First of all, we can't be sure what John had heard there in prison. It's quite clear in the third chapter of John that some of John's disciples were a little Phariseeical oriented. We also touched on that again when we covered the section on John's disciples when they came to Jesus about the question on fasting (Matt. 9:14). They did not have a correct understanding; because, Jesus told them, with their Phariseeical friends, that His kingdom was NOT a new patch on an old garment. We'll consider Jesus' response to John’s message in our next lesson. Until then, keep your chin up and have a good day.