Friday, March 6, 2015

3/6/15 by Darren Pollock

If I testify about myself,” Jesus says, “my testimony is not true. There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony about me is true.” 

Having acknowledged a need for unbiased witnesses, Jesus first presents John the Baptist—a “burning and shining lamp” who testified to the truth about Christ. Back in John 1 this John described Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, as One who was baptized by the Holy Spirit, and—yes—as the Son of God. In chapter three he adds the wonderful image of his need to become less as Christ becomes more. John’s witness, being human testimony, is not the basis for Christ’s own self-understanding, Jesus tells us, but John’s faithful witness to the truth about Christ and his reflecting of Christ’s light benefited those who heard his message.

          But there were yet greater witnesses—Jesus’ recommendation from John the Baptist, while persuasive to many, was not his “ace in the hole.” “I have a testimony greater than John’s,” Jesus continues, “The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf.” And, finally, the scriptures testify that Christ is who he claimed to be. Here, looming over the powerful-but-still-human testimony of John the Baptist, we have the supernatural trifecta of Christ’s miraculous and compassionate works, the Father’s testimony, and scripture’s prophecies all proclaiming univocally but in manifold splendor—like a beam of light bursting through a prism—that Christ is the perfect image of the invisible Father, the incarnate Word, the Living Water, the Bread of Life. All of the evidence points not to a blasphemer—the accusation leveled against Jesus in the first half of John 5—but to the Son of the Living God.
          Jesus is aware, though, of our idolatrous tendency to make this evidence itself the object of our faith—so that our focus is not on Christ, but on miracles, good deeds, prophesies, and the scriptures.
          “You search the scriptures,” Jesus laments, “because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. Yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
          These words are an indictment on all who seek their comfort and their salvation in traditions, doctrines, disciplines, feelings, blessings—that is, every Christian to some degree. There’s a twisted irony here, in that the Bible—that divinely-inspired testimony to Christ’s deity, the clearest means that we have of hearing God’s voice—can actually be an impediment to our relationship with Christ, if we read it for its own sake and neglect to see it pointing to Christ. As counter-intuitive as it might seem, Scripture does not itself contain salvation and eternal life; there are atheists who know the Bible better than 99% of Christians. The Bible is not the source of eternal life—the Bible directs us to Christ, who is the fountain of life.   

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