Validation

The Pharisees challenged Him,  “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”

Jesus answered,  “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I come from and where I am going.  But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.  You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.  But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone.  I stand with the Father, who sent me.  In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid.  I am one who testifies for myself, my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”  John 8:13-18.

For years, as I’ve read this passage I found it strange that in just a few short conversations earlier, Jesus seemingly invalidates His own testimony here by saying,  “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid.”  The Pharisees were quick to point out the seeming inconsistency of His rhetoric but blind enough to miss the context of the previous statement, which concluded this way,  “There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that His testimony is valid.”  (John 5:31, 32.)

What else can we conclude except that Jesus is speaking of the Father.  He set the Pharisees up with their own litmus test for Him, then shot them down with the proof using the very evidence they wanted so very badly to deny.  Jesus’ miracles spoke loudly for supernatural help on His behalf.  Try as they might the leaders were stymied in their efforts to disprove Jesus’ claims and I think they became so obsessed with their goal they lost sight of commonsense.  If they wouldn’t accept the supernatural testimony the miraculous power Jesus demonstrated, then He would appeal to a human named John the Baptist, which met the criteria the Law requires.

Yet these men still refused to give in and sidestepped His victory by bringing up the circumstances surrounding His birth.  In these post-modern times we lose sight of what a scandal it was for Mary, Jesus’ mother, to be pregnant before the marriage officially consummated.  The Pharisees weren’t appealing to the known father figure in Jesus’ life but slyly intimating it could be anyone as well as Joseph.  “Where is your father?”  they asked Him.  Jesus threw their obvious ignorance back in their faces, though I don’t think they accepted it graciously, by saying,  “You don’t know me or my Father…”  I bet this puzzled them because it was assumed His parents were Mary and Joseph, or some other man unknown to them protected by Joseph’s noble act.  Since Joseph married her, however, the evidence pointed to him as the most likely candidate.

His miraculous ability should have kept them at bay, warning them off the hunt and quieting their objections.  Instead they pursued a course of open debate and challenged Him again and again.  Their efforts to discredit Jesus constantly landed them in the mud, yet they didn’t waiver or give up the charge.  Their arguments always centered on the only thing they accepted as true:  physical reality.

Why?

Why was it so important to defeat Jesus?

Mom used to say,  “If you could find a good reason for sin, you could excuse it.”  Paul dispels any excuse for humanity in Romans 1 by listing all the evidence of nature, natural law and Jesus Himself.  I don’t think in the scheme of things these men were as blind as they pretended to be—at least some of them.  I believe they were so blinded by ambition that any challenge to their ultimate authority and unquestionable place in the light set their teeth on edge.  How can I come to such a harsh judgment of their motivations?  They crucified Jesus for one; then at the martyrdom of Stephen they put their hands over their ears and yelling at the top of their lungs rushed him and began stoning him.

Don’t be blind to the nature of sin.  It motivates, captivates and demonstrates its heart time and again, though we ache to find an excuse or explanation for its behavior.  No such luck, folks.  The logic just isn’t there anywhere.  The leaders were possessed by blind ambition and self-glorification to the extreme where they killed a non-violent man for no other reason than that He bothered them.

Jesus led no insurrections, no call to replace the leadership, and not once did He even suggest a take over of Rome or the Jewish government through either Himself or His followers.  The Father testified His favor by giving Jesus an undefeated record in every debate as well as miraculous power to back it up.

Tell me, if you saw a man healed who’s limbs seconds before were twisted, bare bones with skin on them and unusable, stand up and walk, would you not be a little awestruck?  Absolutely!  Now take that several steps further to Lazarus who was dead 4 days before Jesus even got there, an unmistakable death for the historians who might suggest the man was merely in a coma.  Martha objected to rolling the stone back because of the smell, which probably leaked around the seal, testifying to the corruption happening inside the tomb, giving further testimony that Lazarus was dead. 

Jesus called him out of the tomb in front of a crowd of witnesses—even some from the Sanhedrin.  The evidence of this miracle was so convincing the Jews decided to kill Lazarus as well.  This is madness not mistaken theology, misplaced zeal or ignorance.  The only thing that drives a person to this level of insanity is a challenge to their own power over their world.  These men realized quite succinctly that Jesus was irrefutable and concluded (wrongly) nothing but death would remove Him as a problem.

It’s important to note Jesus’ argument about the source of their two perspectives.  He told them,  “You judge by human standards…” which is an identifying declaration not a guess or assumption.  In this one phrase He set up a contrast between Himself and His detractors in which they were judging by limited spiritual insight into the source of His life, family and mission.  In identifying the source of their grasp of truth He by default named His own.

It’s also vital to not pass over too quickly phrases or statements He makes because by doing so we can miss important truths.

“I pass judgment on no one.”

He could, and if He did, His judgment would be on the mark, but His mission to earth was not to pass judgment but to reconcile men to God.  His mission is our mission; His calling, our calling—except for the part about being God, Savior and the sacrifice for sins.  We are ambassadors of reconciliation, of peace on earth, good will toward men.  Any other agenda has been tagged on as an addendum or amendment by humans.  There is a Day for judgment set at the end of earth’s history with sin where God will judge all things, but for now all judgment is reserved for the Day.  Which means, then, the only judgment we can render anyone is to identify what displeases or pleases God.  Everything else is outside our jurisdiction or mandate. 

Jesus didn’t stand alone in His mission or grasp of human nature.  The Father stood with Him through it all, giving Him supernatural insight and wisdom to handle these things.  He demonstrated that God’s mere presence in the heart of the believer confounds all the wisdom of the world.  In the end, every argument will be answered and they will have no other way to fight back except to resort to violence.  It is always the way of those bound to human ideals and reasoning, for if they cannot defeat truth by standard human methods (rhetoric, “logic,” shouting someone down or social pressure), they choose violence.

So what does this mean for the believer?

By the process of elimination our last resort is to shake the dust of their town or home off our feet, retrieve our blessing and move on.  The only time we use violence is in the defense of the helpless, weak or oppressed, which even then needs to be a prayerful decision as to whether we will accomplish the desired outcome or not.  I would say most of the time our choice of preference is to shake the dust off and move on.

Here we also have a decision to make:  Will God’s Word in Christ be our first and last line of reasoning and defense or will we attempt to create a hybrid theology out of it by combining it to human values?

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One Response to “Validation”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    Well said.

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