witness | John 5.36-38
But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. John 5.36-38 | ESV
Ah, but I can point to an even greater light than John…
Exhibit B. The Father’s business.
Yep, what the Father is giving me to do day in and day out sure outshines anything John could say! It’s not the fine points of my rhetorical skills but the simple doing of what my Father has given me to do – yes, the very doings I’m engaging in right here and now that you find so suspect – it’s such doing that shows that the Father is the One who sent and empowered me. But it’s more than the outer doing, it’s the inner reality behind it that speaks loudest…Exhibit C. The Father himself.
That’s right. The Father himself has spoken his piece about me. I’ve heard him. How sad that you are stone deaf to his voice and totally blind to his presence – you don’t have a clue! And no matter how much you read the Word, it’s clear what he says has no home in your heart – how can it? There’s not an ounce of trust in your heart for the one to whom he has entrusted everything. MAV
It’s ironic that Jesus’ first witness as he stands in the dock of the human courtroom is John the Dipper (Baptist) – for the simple reason that John himself while waiting in prison for Jesus to do something sends messengers with the question: “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” Perhaps this is why Jesus says he doesn’t rely upon the testimony and say-so of human beings (perhaps a good thing to keep in mind as we continue to roll out ream after ream of apologetic print).
We can be so wishy-washy.
If John, who was no “reed shaken by the wind” wobbled (and, come on, he ate bugs, too, for crying out loud), then how much more so the rest of us. When John asked his wobbling question of doubt, Jesus answered very much as he does here, “Just look at what I’m doing. Blind people are getting their sight back, disabled people are able to get about again, outcasts are being restored to the community, deaf people can hear, many are getting a whole new life, and those who don’t count for much in our society have had Good News for the first time in their lives. Some object to what I’m doing, but you should be thrilled to bits!”
Still John missed it, at least for a while. Perhaps we can excuse him (especially since Jesus did) since he was locked up in a dungeon at the time.
But Jesus doesn’t give much slack to his religious judges whose only dungeon what that of their minds and hearts. They sent and asked John, John spoke, they turned away. Jesus now performs miracles, does the work of the Father, right there before them on their home Temple turf, and they don’t just turn away, they turn on him to persecute and prosecute him for the very actions that should be convicting them.
Miracles right on the porch and verses on the page, but they can’t see it; they end up connecting the dots in a totally different way because it’s more than miracles on the porch or memorable quotes on the page for the simple reason they were as deaf to the Voice as was Eli of old.
“Having ears, you don’t hear; and having eyes, you don’t see,” Jesus often said.
It’s the basic precondition to spiritual insight: a readiness to hear the God with the unpronounceable Name in unexpected places because we have an unjaded heart made increasingly pliable with childlike trust.
When have you found yourself, like John, doubting what you once thought you knew? What is the key to keeping a heart that is open and trusting, as opposed to one that is jaded and suspicious (or gullible and naïve)?
Abba, rescue me from the predictable ruts of religion, of religious or irreligious assumptions that blind me to fresh possibilities that may spring up before me today; keep me awake to your unpredictable presence. Through Christ.