posted on May, 13 2016 @ 05:01 PM
“We beheld the glory of the Son”, says John, and that glory was “full of grace and truth” (ch1 v14).
“Grace and truth” sums up what Christ brings to replace the law brought by Moses (v17).
The truth is what is real, and the revelation of what is real.
So it needs to be made known by witnesses and their testimony.
The first is John the Baptist. His function is that he comes as a witness. His task is to bear witness to the light. The purpose of his task is that
all men might believe through him –a purpose not restricted to the one nation but extended to the world (v7).
His first testimony is to the person of Jesus;
“This is he of whom I said ‘He who comes after me ranks before me [in place], for he was before me [in time]’” (v15). He’s endorsing what we
learned from the opening verses, that the Word is prior to all things, and therefore greater.
The second testimony is to the descent of the Spirit at the baptism of Jesus (vv32-34).
In both cases, the core of the testimony is that Jesus is the one sent by God.
Jesus himself is testifying to what he has learned direct from the Father;
“We speak of what we know and bear witness to what we have seen” (ch3 v11).
These words are amplified at the end of the chapter;
“The one who comes from above…bears witness to what he has seen…
For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit” (vv31-34).
This lays him open to the charge that he is the sole witness to himself, which would not be sufficient under Jewish law.
He anticipates this line of argument when he’s talking about his authority;
“If I [alone] bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true; there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he
bears of me is true”.
He means that the Father is the necessary second witness.
He knows what the Baptist told them, but he’s not depending upon John’s endorsement, though it’s useful for their salvation.
He has a greater testimony in “the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish”.
His “works” include his teaching, as well as his miracles.
The Father has also testified more directly in the scriptures which they search so avidly (ch5 vv31-40).
An exchange with the Pharisees on the Feast of Tabernacles gives us a condensed version of the same line of argument.
They say to him; “You are bearing witness to yourself; your testimony is not true”.
He retorts that his lone testimony would still be good, because he knows better than they do where he came from (and where he is going).
But apart from that, the Father who sent him acts as his second witness (ch8 vv13-18).
“The truth” is both the content of the testimony and the source of the testimony.
The testimony is a way of manifesting the Father, who is himself Truth.
That’s why Jesus says that those who do the truth (that is, the works which God has given them to do) will be coming to the light which makes
his works clear.
They will want to show that their works have been done “in God” (ch3 v21).
In the same vein, Jesus told the woman in Samaria that God was looking for true worshippers who would worship “in Spirit and truth”.
God is spirit (and also truth), and those who worship him should worship accordingly.
This combination displaces the worship found either in Jerusalem (where men focus on the letter rather than the Spirit), or in Samaria (which the Jews
regard as a religion of falsehood rather than truth).
It is the manifestation of God in Christ which makes the true worship possible.
So the reward for receiving the truth would be getting closer to God.
“If you continue in my word… you will know the truth [that is, you will know God], and the truth will make you free” (ch8 vv31-32).
Once again, they should know it as the truth because he has heard it from God.
Their difficulty comes from the fact that their real father is the devil, who is the opposite of the truth.
Therefore they cannot be in tune with the truth.
They do not believe him, precisely because he tells them what is true (vv39-47).
On the other hand, as he tells Pilate later, everyone who is “of the truth” will hear his voice (ch18 v38)
His disciples are to be taken out of the world and sanctified (or set apart for God) “in the truth”. For if God is truth and they are in the
truth, then they are in God.
Consequently “the truth” is part of the definition of his mission;
“I am the way, the truth, and the life” (ch14 v6).
He represents what is eternal and absolute, as against what is finite.
He promises to send the disciples “The Spirit of Truth”, who will “guide you into all the truth” (ch16 v13).
The Spirit will testify about Jesus to the world, and will at the same time testify against the world itself.
The truth is also part of the self-definition which he gives to Pilate.
“For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (ch18 v37)
This complements, rather than contradicts, the other great definition;
“I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (ch12 v46)
Bacon’s famous comment on this scene is “What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer.” Perhaps a little unfair, because
we don’t know that Pilate did not wait, and we don’t know that any short answer was possible.
The final testimonies come from the writer of the book, who testifies as a witness of the crucifixion (ch19 v35), and as a witness of the events of
the Gospel in general (ch21 v24).
In short, there is enough testimony here to make the truth available to anyone who is willing to receive it.