John 5. Part II. Jesus Describes His Witnesses,
and Explains His Relationship to His Father.

Key Notes: The five witnesses. Jesusis subordinate to the Father, equal to the Father, delegated by the Father. Do all monotheists worship the same God?

In the first lesson on John 5, we learned  Jesus’ special work in the world:  prophesying, healing, saving, raising the dead, and judging. These works are all delegated by the Father. Today we rescan the chapter to collect the verses that speak of Jesus’ witnesses,  His audience and His relationship to the Father.

Jesus' Witness. Jesus said He would not ask them to depend on His own words. “If I bear witness to Myself, My witness is not true. “ (5:31). "...every word must be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses." (Matt.18:16)

There are four other witnesses.
*John the Baptist: “You sent to John and he has borne witness to the truth.”. (5:33). “You were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.” (5:35). John the Baptist had performed the ultimate task of introducing Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World.” (Jn.1:29)

*Jesus’ own works: “…for the works which the Father has granted Me to accomplish,  these very works which I am doing, bear Me witness that the Father has sent Me.” (5:36). His healing ministry was the most easily recognized by the people and there was no shortage of testimonials.

*The Father: “And the Father who sent me has Himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, His form you have never seen.” 5:37
The voice of the Father was heard at Jesus’ baptism, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove. (Matt.3:16). The crowd evidently did not hear the Father's voice and did not see Him although John the Baptist did. Jn.1:32
God spoke to Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. Lk.9:35
The voice of the Father was heard again near the end of His life. " I have glorified it (His Name) and I will glorify it again. The crowd standing by heard it and said it was thunder." Jn.12:28–29

*The Scripture: “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life, and it is they that bear witness to me." (5:39). Moses in particular wrote of Him. (5:46). [We should all remember these key verses.]

Gen. 3:15. The Seed of the Woman will bruise the Serpent’s head.
Gen.12:2–3. Through Abraham, all nations will be blessed.
Gen.49:10. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah… until He comes to whom it belongs. “
Num.24:17. “…a star shall come forth out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.”
Deut.‘:18–19. “I will raise up for them a prophet  like you from among their brethren… and whoever will not give heed to my words which He shall speak in my Name,  I Myself will require it of him. “

Jesus' audience was resistant. He responded to their persecution,  charging Him with Sabbath violation (5:16) and blasphemy (5:18), calling God His own Father. He pled with them.

“You do not have His word abiding in you….” 5:38
“…you do not believe Him whom He has sent.” 5:38
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life….” 5:39
“…you refuse to come to Me that you may have life.” 5:40
“…you have not the love of God within you.” 5:42
“…if another comes in his own name,  him you will receive.” 5:43
“How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes for the only God?” 5:44
“If you believed Moses, you would believe Me,  for He wrote of Me.” 5:46

His plea is especially poignant because they had all the information they needed to come to faith in Him, but it was coupled with great resistance. They preferred an approach of law and tradition that sat well with them rather than the more difficult and untried  path of faith in Christ.

Jesus is Son of the Father. The verses can be sorted into three sets: those that speak for subordination,those for equality and for delegation of duties.

Subordination.

“The Son can do nothing of His own accord but only what He sees the Father doing;  for whatever He does, that the Son does likewise.” 5:19
“The Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing.” 5:20
“I can do nothing  on my own authority;  as I hear, I judge.…” 5:30
“…and the Father who sent Me has Himself born witness to Me ….” 5:37
“…Him whom He has sent….” 5:38
“I have come in My Father’s Name….” 5:43

Equality.

“…that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. "
He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” 5:23

Delegation of duties.

“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will. 5:21
“For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted to the Son also to have life in Himself.” 5:26
“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son….” 5:22
“….the works which the Father has granted  me to accomplish…bear  me witness that the Father has sent me.” 5:36

Discussion:

That Jesus Himself says He is subordinate to the Father has disturbed the Church since its early days because subordination  implies inferiority. Subordinationism is a heresy that says Jesus in inferior to the Father. It was one of the arguments for the Arian heresy that said Jesus was a created god. Jesus Himself answers that when He says “…that all may honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. “ 5:23

Among other things, this verse (5:23) tells us that Biblical theism is required for salvation. Thus Bhakti Hindus, Moslems, Jews, Unitarians and other monotheists do not worship “The God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” Ex.3:6 , who is “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” Rom.15:6 because they do not honor the Son as they say they honor the Father.

“This is the Antichrist, he who denies the  Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also….. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what He has promised us, eternal  life.” I Jn. 2:22

Those who say the members of the three Abrahamic  religions all worship the same God are incorrect. It is gesture of peace but at an unacceptable price. Those who know their Bible will be accused of narrow-mindedness and bigotry, unwilling to pursue religious peace. But denying the Son denies the Father. Honoring the Son honors the Father. And we would honor the Father and the Son.

The second lesson of the text is that Jesus’ subordination to the Father is a model for our subordination  to Him. As Jesus here says “I can of My own Self do nothing” (5:30). He will later say “… apart from Me you can do nothing.” Jn.15:5. In this and other examples for the Gospel of John we will learn that Jesus’ relationship to the Father is a model for our relationship to Him. His dependence on the Father exemplifies our dependence on Him.

Finally, we see that Jesus as Son of the Father is a relational name which tells of a father/son relationship. The Trinity is not a philosophical abstraction which we should try to decipher, since all analogies fail. But rather we should see it as a relationship we can learn from. Being unable to diagram the Trinity should not lead to frustration; it is not our job. Our job is to follow Jesus, learning from His relationship to the Father to live our lives in a similar relationship to Him. As we shall see further on in John, that is a great challenge.