Witnesses to Jesus
31If I speak for myself, there is no way to prove I am telling the truth. 32But there is someone else who speaks for me, and I know what he says is true. 33 You sent messengers to John, and he told them the truth. 34I don't depend on what people say about me, but I tell you these things so that you may be saved. 35 John was a lamp that gave a lot of light, and you were glad to enjoy his light for a while.
36But something more important than John speaks for me. I mean the things that the Father has given me to do! All of these speak for me and prove that the Father sent me.
37 The Father who sent me also speaks for me, but you have never heard his voice or seen him face to face. 38You have not believed his message, because you refused to have faith in the one he sent.
39 You search the Scriptures, because you think you will find eternal life in them. The Scriptures tell about me, 40but you refuse to come to me for eternal life.
41I don't care about human praise, 42but I do know that none of you love God. 43I have come with my Father's authority, and you have not welcomed me. But you will welcome people who come on their own. 44How could you possibly believe? You like to have your friends praise you, and you don't care about praise that the only God can give!
45Don't think that I will be the one to accuse you to the Father. You have put your hope in Moses, yet he is the very one who will accuse you. 46Moses wrote about me, and if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me. 47But if you don't believe what Moses wrote, how can you believe what I say?
When we hear the question, “do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” we recognize that the setting is a courtroom and the person taking the oath is giving testimony. Today’s passage has a similar setting which is often missed by the distance between our two cultures. It presupposes a Jewish law court where evidence must be provided by the witness of others rather than oneself.
Jesus points out that the things he is doing are even more important than the things that could be said by witnesses; it is the things he is doing that provide the greatest testimony. And what did Jesus come to do but to proclaim the good news to the poor, to give sight to the blind, and to free the captives?
Our world recognizes all too well how easy it is to talk. “Talk is cheap” is a common refrain heard often in almost every venue of life. The result is that no one listens anymore. How comforting it is that Jesus shows us a way through such cynicism: don’t listen to what I say but look at what I do. How would the evidence change if we focused not on our words but on our actions? What kind of message would others come to know? What kind of good news would they hear? Jesus was willing to acknowledge that what he said about himself might not carry any weight with his hearers. How might our lives change if we were to acknowledge the same thing?
Gracious God, may my life and all the things I do be a testimony to the truth that I proclaim with my words. May your Spirit empower us to be the people you have called us to be for a world which so desperately needs those people. Amen.