UNDERSTAND the ‘FOURFOLD WITNESSES’ of JESUS CHRIST: “If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. But I have a greater witness than John's; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish--the very works that I do--bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:31-33, 36-39)
When Jesus Christ came into this world, He tried to establish the fact that He was God’s only begotten Son and that He was equal with God. However, the Jews would not accept His claim that He was the Messiah. This doubt lingered in the minds of the Jews even until the time that Jesus was tried in the different legal courts for crimes that He had not committed. In order for any Jew to accept the claims of any person, it was required by the Law of Moses that two witnesses were required to establish a fact: "One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established" (Deut. 19:15). If Jesus were the only one bearing witness of what He was claiming; His witness would not be accepted in court based on the Mosaic Law! (Deut. 17:6)
So Jesus offered not just two or three witnesses but four different witnesses to establish the validity for His claim: God the Father, John the Baptist, His works and the Holy Scriptures. Let us examine each of these witnesses in greater detail:
- God the Father (vss. 37–38): The Father is the primary and ultimate witness of Jesus. Three times in the Gospels the Father personally witnessed about His Son: at Jesus’ baptism (Matt. 3:17), at the Transfiguration (17:5) and just before He went to the cross (John 12:28). In the life, ministry, and miracles of the Lord Jesus, the Father bore witness to the fact that He was the very Son of God.
- John the Baptist (vss. 33–35): Jesus reminded the unbelieving Jews that they sent men to John to hear what he had to say, and John’s testimony was all about the Lord Jesus Christ. John pointed everyone to the Savior, and bore witness to the One who is the truth. John’s testimony is given in 1:19–28.
- The works of Jesus (vs. 36): The miracles which the Father gave Jesus to do bore witness of Him, and that the Father had truly sent Him. Jesus had the power in Himself to do these mighty works, and not only performed miracles Himself, but He gave His apostles the authority to do likewise. These works were the very ones which were prophesied in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah (see Isa. 35:5, 6). The miracles that the Lord Jesus performed were unique in character, scope, and number.
- The Holy Scriptures (vss. 39–47): Jesus agrees that the Old Testament leads to eternal life, while going on to reveal that this life is in Him, the Author of eternal life. However, God's Word failed to find an entrance into the hearts of the unbelieving Jews because of their lack of faith (2 Cor. 3:6).
- The Holy Spirit: Before He left for His heavenly abode, Jesus has gifted us the Holy Spirit to help us witness about Him: "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom. 8:16). "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God." (1 John 4:2)
- The Holy Scriptures: As Apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son Timothy, God’s Word witnesses to us about Jesus: "…from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Tim 3:15)
- Every follower of Jesus: As followers of Jesus Christ, we must be baptized in the Holy Spirit to be effective witnesses for Jesus: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
- Our Works: Finally, through our works (including signs, wonders and miracles) we witness about Jesus (see Mark 16: 17-20). Jesus has told us: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). Let our prayer be: "Lord...grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." (Acts 4:29-30)