Jesus had healed a man at the pool of Bethesda who had been lame and unable to walk for 38 years. From that time, the Jewish leaders began to persecute Jesus. Not only had Jesus told the man that he needed to stand up and carry his mat on the Sabbath, thus breaking the Jewish traditions on how the Jews should act on the Sabbath, but he also began to explain his actions by saying that his Father is working even to this day.
So Jesus is saying that his Father is working, and that work of healing the man on the Sabbath, and then giving the man the command to get up, carry his mat, and walk on the Sabbath, is from his Father.
Testimony of the Jewish Leaders
But who did the Jewish leaders understand Jesus’s Father to be? They understood precisely what Jesus was saying. He was saying that God is his Father. And how do we know that Jesus was saying that? Because they not only wanted to persecute Jesus for what he was doing on the Sabbath, but now they wanted to kill him. They believed that Jesus was blaspheming, saying that he was equal with God the Father.
So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.John 5:16-18
So it is the accusation and the actions of the Jewish leaders that provide additional testimony and confirmation to Jesus’s words.
I bring this up because there are many Muslims today that, like parrots, repeat the words of supposed Muslim apologists who have said:
Jesus never said, “I am God, worship me!”
These Muslim apologists, and each of their followers online, then sit back and often smugly confirm to themselves that this is true.
And, of course, it is true, but it is also ridiculous.
First, they should expect that Jesus would say the exact words that they want him to say? They are working to create Jesus in their own image saying that, for them to be convinced, they need Jesus to say the EXACT words that they want him to say. In reality, even if Jesus said the exact words that they wanted, they would just create a different sentence and say that Jesus did say those words…did he?
But if we read and understand what the people who were there listening to Jesus actually understood about what he was saying, they heard him to precisely say that he is God. And we know that is what they understood because they wanted to kill him!
Testimony of the Scriptures
In addition, as Jesus was speaking with the Jewish leaders, trying to explain to them who he is, he continued to speak of the Father and his role as the Son. But he makes an interesting statement that the Father won’t judge them, but instead it will be the words of Scriptures, the words that Moses wrote that speak about him that will accuse the Jews because they haven’t believed in Christ.
And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.John 5:37-40
“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”John 5:45-47
Jesus is pointing out that the Scriptures point directly to him! That which Moses wrote speaks of One who would come. But they don’t believe and follow what Moses wrote, so how could they understand and believe that Jesus is the One who is to come. Jesus is saying that the Scriptures themselves give testimony to who he is.
Evidence through testimony
Throughout Jesus’s life and ministry, we see that there are several types of evidence that speak to Jesus’s identity. Nicodemus had already spoken to the evidence that Jesus was from God because no one could have, otherwise, performed the signs that he had been doing unless God were with him.
So the signs and wonders, the miracles that Jesus had been performing, were testifying to Jesus’s identity.
Then we see that the Jewish leaders themselves testified through their actions as to the meaning of Jesus’s words. Jesus spoke of his own identity but what was more was what they had understood of Jesus’s words.
And finally, we see that Jesus explains that the Scriptures written by Moses, the Torah, spoke – and continue to speak today – of Jesus himself.