The Gospel of John – Lesson 13 – John 5:31-47

31 “If I were to testify about myself, my testimony would not be valid. 32 There is another who testifies about me, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. 33 You sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34 The testimony I receive is not from man, but I am saying these things so that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that was shining brightly, and for a while you wanted to enjoy his light. 36 But I have testimony greater than John’s. For the works that the Father gave me to carry out, the very works that I am doing, these testify about me that the Father has sent me. 37 The Father who sent me—he is the one who has testified about me. You have never heard his voice or seen his form. 38 And you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them. They testify about me! 40 And yet you do not want to come to me in order to have life. 41“I do not accept honor from people. 42 But I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, yet you do not accept me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe while you continue to accept glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. The one who accuses you is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe what I say?”

The Jews believed they had a clear case against Jesus. Everyone knew he was the son of a carpenter from the out of the way village of Nazareth. Yet he testified that despite his outward appearances, he is the true Son of God. Someone falsely claiming to be God was guilty of blasphemy. This crime was punishable by death. (See Leviticus 24:16) Jesus would need witnesses to testify on his behalf to prove his claims. His own testimony wasn’t sufficient. Even Jesus acknowledged his personal testimony wasn’t enough to validate his claims. He said in the opening verse of our reading today “If I were to testify about myself, my testimony would not be valid.”

Although Jesus is the true Son of God, he wasn’t relying on his own testimony to prove his case. Jesus had witnesses to testify for him. His first witness was the man, John the Baptist. God promised through his Old Testament prophets to send a messenger to prepare the way for the coming Savior. (See Isaiah 40:3-5 and Malachi 4:5-6) If the Jewish leaders had looked closely at John’s ministry they would have seen that he fulfilled everything God promised about the messenger he would send to prepare the way for Jesus. When John began his ministry in the wilderness of Judea, people came from all over to hear him preach and to be baptized by him. Even the leaders of the Jews came to hear him. John testified that Jesus is the “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

But Jesus had witnesses even greater than John the Baptist. Jesus’ second witness was the work he was doing. Jesus was doing many miracles. He healed the sick. He made lame people walk. He drove out demons. He even raised the dead to life. These miracles were part of the work God gave his Son to carry out. (See Isaiah 35:4-6) No mere human being could do such amazing miracles. Jesus’ works clearly testified he is the Son of God.

Jesus’ third witness was God the Father. At Jesus’ baptism, his heavenly Father spoke from heaven proclaiming that Jesus is his beloved Son with whom he was well pleased. (See Matthew 3:17). He made the same proclamation at the Transfiguration of Jesus. (See Matthew 17:5) When the Jews rejected Jesus’ testimony about himself they were also rejecting God the Father who sent his Son to be our Savior.

Jesus pointed to one additional witness. In verse 39 of our reading he said, “You search the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them. They testify about me!” Jesus acknowledged that the leaders of the Jews were diligently studying the Word of God. But they still missed the fact that the teachings of Scripture centers on Jesus. God gave the Law through Moses to show us that we are sinners in desperate need of someone to save us. God divinely inspired his prophets to point ahead to the one who would come to be our Savior. The Savior was God’s own Son. Jesus was now fulfilling all the prophecies about the promised Savior. A careful study of the Holy Scriptures should always lead us to see Jesus as the fulfillment of everything God promised.

God has graciously preserved the Holy Scriptures so that we can diligently study them today. As we do we can see that we have sinned and fallen short of God’s expectations. But the Holy Scriptures testify that our salvation comes through the Savior God promised to send. That Savior is Jesus Christ, the true Son of God. God’s message to us testifies that through Jesus alone we have eternal life.

Discussion Questions

1 – Jesus is the Son of God. He didn’t need any human being to testify for him. Yet he still pointed to the testimony of John the Baptist. Why was John’s testimony so important?
God promised to send a messenger to point to Jesus as the promised Savior. John was that messenger. Many people came to John to hear him preach about the Savior. They heard his testimony about Jesus and they believed. Jesus didn’t need John’s testimony to validate that he is the promised Savior. But John did speak the truth about Jesus. Our Lord uses the testimony of anyone who teaches the truth about Jesus to bring others to saving faith in him.

2 – What did Jesus mean when he said “The one who accuses you is Moses, on whom you have set your hope?”
The Jews believed they were right with God because they had kept the Law of God which God gave through Moses at Mt. Sinai. But they were putting their hope on something that could not save them. God’s Law demands perfection. If we even break one of God’s commandments we are guilty before God and deserving of his eternal judgment. (See James 2:10)

3 – God gave the Law through Moses. Yet Jesus said Moses also wrote about him. Where did Moses do this?
One example appears in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brother Israelites. Listen to him.” The prophet Moses pointed ahead to was Jesus. Remember, Jesus said all the Holy Scriptures testify about him. (See verse 39 of our reading from John 5) Moses also was divinely inspired to write the book of Genesis. Here we see several prophecies about the Savior (Genesis 3:15, 12:3, 28:14, 49:10, etc.) The picture of the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12, the sin offering in Leviticus 6:24-30 and the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) all pointed ahead to Christ. The Jews saw the Law proclaimed through Moses, but they failed to see Jesus.

4 – Sometimes as Christians we do what God tells us is right and yet people reject us. How does Jesus’ testimony in these verses help us in those times?
Jesus was also rejected by people for teaching the truth. If this rejection happened to him it will also happen to those who follow him. Ultimately, the only important thing is that God is pleased by our actions. Remember Jesus’ promise in Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to