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John16 – AD 30 on Facebook

“If I myself may testify concerning myself, my testimony is not true.” 
This is a surprise. It’s a statement of Jesus as recorded in John’s first century eye-witness biography. What on earth did he mean when he said this to the Jerusalem religious leaders around AD 30? Did he mean that he would deliberately tell lies? I don’t think so, do you?

It seems to me that he, Son of God, Son of Man, was saying that if he ever did testify so as to glorify himself then, in that event, he would be a liar. Therefore, he is never going to testify about himself. Unlike Trump, Biden or Johnson.

“There is another who testifies concerning me, and I have discerned that the testimony which he testifies concerning me is true. You have sent out towards John and he has testified to the truth. In fact, I myself do not lay hold of a testimony from man, but I state these things in order that you may be saved. That one was the lamp, burnt and shining; in fact, you yourselves desired to be joyful towards an hour in his light.”

In these statements Jesus reminds his hearers that they and many others had very recently experienced the power of the testimony of John the Baptist. These same religious leaders wanted to follow “for an hour” because a crowd was there - until John pointed to Jesus as being their Messiah, their Christ.

“In fact I myself have the testimony greater than John’s, because the works which the Father has given to me in order that I may perfect them—the works themselves which I do—it is testifying concerning me, that the Father did send me out.”

Now Jesus points to the “works which the Father has given to [him] to do”. He has just restored a man who, for 38 years, had been paralysed. Many more acts of grace and mercy followed that.

‘Christ, if not good, is not God.’ (Augustus H Strong, American theologian, 1836-1921)
“And the Father having sent me, that one did testify concerning me. You neither heard his voice at any time nor discerned his appearance. And you do not have his word staying in yourselves, in that, the one whom that one sent out, in this one you do not believe.” 

Jesus points out that his Father above – that one – “testified about” him. The problem was that they didn’t want to hear – or see – the Father’s actual word. 

“You search the scriptures in that you assume in them to have eternal life, and it is these that are testifying concerning me. And you do not desire to come to me in order that you may have life.”

The means by which “the Father” had “testified” about Jesus was their own “scriptures”, now the Old Testament in Christian Bibles. These religious leaders searched those scriptures so as to have “eternal life”. But they “did not want to come” to the very person about whom their scriptures were written.

“I do not lay hold of glory from men, but I have known you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.”

This is yet another soul-searching statement to religious people. In seeking glory for themselves they are very unlike the God of the Old Testament whose love-in-action precludes all such self-seeking. God loves doing and giving.

“I myself have come in my Father’s name, and you are not laying hold of me. If another may come in his own name, you will lay hold of that one. How are you yourselves able to believe, laying hold of glory from one another, and the glory from the only God you are not seeking?”

Like those religious leaders. I think I tend to support those “who come in their own name” - the wise, the powerful, the wealthy. Better to trust the one who came in the Father’s name and never self-promoted. He wasn’t caught up in their AD30 mutual admiration society. 
‘Nothing arouses ambition so much in the heart as the trumpet-clang of another’s fame.’ (Baltasar Gracian, Spanish writer, 1601-1658)
“Do not assume that I myself will accuse you towards the Father! It is Moses accusing you, into whom you have hoped. Because if you were believing Moses, you were believing me, because that one wrote concerning me. In fact, if you do not believe that one’s writings, how will you believe my own messages?” With these things Jesus came away to the other side of the sea of Galilee, of the Tiberias).

Jesus leaves them to continue their scripture studies of Moses; avoiding the one Moses wrote about around BC 1350. Worse – ridding themselves of him.

Sinner Syvret

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