Jesus is defending his claim to be the Son of God against religious leaders who think they know the Scriptures well, v. 39, but in reality don’t.
The claim to be the Son of God is a big one and needs to be proved. People make all sorts of claims but that doesn’t make them true. In my last church I was suspicious of a man who had been ingratiating himself towards a vulnerable lady in the church. He claimed he was the son of Erwin Rommel (the famous WW2 German general). After a couple of minutes googling, I found that Rommel Jr had been the mayor of Stuttgart and was unlikely to be after a vulnerable lady in a market town in Cambridgeshire. The police had a word and he disappeared pronto.
Will Jesus’ claims be true? In this chapter Jesus brings 4 witnesses, but of course the resurrection, later, will be the clincher.
1) John the Baptist v. 33-35
John the Baptist had been a popular figure, the first prophet in some 400 years. Crowds had gone to see and hear him. But his message of repentance was also aimed at the religious leaders’ sin – “You brood of vipers… Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:7-8). He was murdered by Herod, but on first seeing Jesus had testified “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John1:29).
2) His works v. 36
Derren Brown does some great magic tricks with sleight of hand. He was once filmed tossing a coin and getting 10 heads in a row. The film wasn’t edited or any sleight of hand done. What wasn’t mentioned was that he was filmed for 9 hours to get that one minute of footage! Jesus has demonstrated some miracles, or ‘works’, without sleight of hand or even being present at one of them. He had turned water into wine, healed the son of an official at a distance and healed a cripple at Bethesda. His works demonstrate who He is and the resurrection does this most significantly.
3) The Father v. 37-38
The audible voice of God at Jesus’ baptism – “This is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased.”
The leaders profess to know the Scriptures, but they are rejecting the one declared by the Scriptures to have been sent by God.
4) Scriptures v. 39-47
They thought they would have eternal life by studying the Scriptures. But they have missed God. It’s like studying a menu, but never eating the meal. Or being sent to pick up an ambassador at the airport and when you get there, being so enamoured with the aeroplane, that you forget the ambassador. The whole of the Old Testament points to Jesus. The books of Moses, which are the first five books of the Old Testament, prophesy like the rest, of Jesus coming – the battle with the serpent in Gen 3, the seed of Abraham in Gen 12:3, the Star of Jacob and more. Yet the religious leaders are rejecting Him.
Today, Lord, we thank you that there are so many witnesses to show that you are the Son of God who has come to save, heal and deliver us. Thank you the ultimate proof is that you defeated death at the resurrection and have given us abundant life now and forever more. Amen