30"I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
31"If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 32There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony to me is true. 33You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. 34Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36But I have a testimony greater than John's. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. 37And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, because you do not believe him whom he has sent.
39"You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that testify on my behalf. 40Yet you refuse to come to me to have life. 41I do not accept glory from human beings. 42But I know that you do not have the love of God in you. 43I have come in my Father's name, and you do not accept me; if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God? 45Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"
The heart of Christianity is Jesus the Messiah. Christianity is rooted in a person who lived, died, and who was resurrected by the power of God. The person of Jesus Christ is the foundation upon which Christian beliefs, mission, evangelism, ethics, community, and worship are grounded. Without the person of Jesus the Messiah, none of the other things associated with Christianity would make any sense. Sometimes you hear that Christianity is about Love, that Jesus came to show God's love, etc. That's not entirely correct. Jesus did not come to point to a greater reality called Love. Jesus did not come in the service of love. Rather, in love God the Father sent His Son. And in love for creation the Son of God took on human flesh and nature to redeem all that which was fallen and broken. Greater than love is the reality of the Triune God and the reality of Son of God who loves us and creation.
As long as Christianity is boiled down to love, then it's easier and more tempting to think of Christianity as a "personal" or "private" matter. If Christianity is essentially about love, then other religions or philosophies that affirm love can be made to look similar to or compatible with Christianity. Although it's true Jesus profoundly transforms our "personal" lives, it's not true that Jesus merely touches the "personal" or "private." The scandal of Christianity -- if I can put it this way -- is that the claims of Jesus are manifestly public.
That is why, in the passage above, the central claims about Jesus are attested by several witnesses. First, there is the witness of the Father (vv. 32, 37-38); second, there is the witness of John the Baptist (vv. 33-35); third, there is the witness of Jesus' own supernatural works; fourth, there is the witness of the Scriptures (v. 39); fifth, there is the witness of Moses [the one most highly esteemed within Judaism] (vv. 45-47).
For the Apostle John, Jesus came into the world not in quietness and obscurity, but with great brilliance. Jesus came not as a provincial savior, but the savior of the world! The passage above resonates with the opening lines of John's Gospel, John 1:9-14:
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we confess you are the Lord over creation. We confess that your light is not hidden under some bushel called religion or that you came to show us an ethics of love. You came to save us, you came to redeem us, you came to restore all that is broken and under the power of the evil one. You are the King of Kings, you are the Resurrected Lord. May you be glorified in our lives -- not just in our quiet times of prayer and meditation -- but in the public arena of political discourse and in the development of cities and nations. In your strong name, amen.