POSTED 05 NOVEMBER, 2017
“I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume I
Yeshua has been accused of the crime of self-deification (John 5:18), and in the discussion which follows, in His defense, Yeshua tells His detractors how He is the One supremely sent by the Father. Yeshua’s true identity and nature is innately connected to the identity and nature of the Father, meaning that Yeshua is not just an entity which acts independently on its own. While significant assertions have been made about the nature of the Messiah as the One sent from the Father, as the Son is to be honored the exact same way as the Father (John 5:23) and He is the Daniel 7:13-14 figure of the Son of Man (John 5:27)—this leads to the logical recognition that the character of the Messiah is quite unique.
Yeshua asserts how He is not an independent actor, out with His own agenda: “I can do nothing on My own. Just as I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, for I do not seek My own will, but the will of the One who sent Me” (John 5:30, TLV). Certainly in the scope of pagan myths, supernatural beings coming down from the sky, tended to always have a self-serving agenda (against: Philippians 2:6); Yeshua the Messiah in contrast, seeks only to perform the will of His Father. Likewise, when recognizing that there had been various messianic figures and revolutionaries hit the Jewish community (cf. Acts 5:36-38), all of whom had some power agenda once the Romans were removed from Judea, Yeshua makes it clear, “my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (NIV). What Yeshua does is going to be different than any others His opponents were likely to encounter. Keener draws our attention to how “The principle Jesus articulates in this passage would have been intelligible in an early Jewish milieu. Ancient Mediterranean culture in general frowned on self-praise except in specific sorts of circumstances that could justify it.”
Yeshua recognizes that for Him to speak entirely on His own would not be proper. He says, “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid” (John 5:31, NIV). In matters of Torah jurisprudence, multiple witnesses or bodies of evidence were required in capital cases (Deuteronomy 17:6), so it is hardly surprising that when evaluating the mission of the Messiah, multiple testimonies should have to be considered as well. The major testimony to be considered, regarding the Messiahship of Yeshua of Nazareth and His ministry work, is that of His Heavenly Father, as Yeshua has just been discussing (John 5:19-30): “There is Another who testifies about Me, and I know that the testimony He gives about Me is valid” (John 5:32, HCSB). A testimony issued from God proper is certainly sufficient and superior, but Yeshua is also keen to recognize, for the sake of His audience, that they have heard the declarations of John the Immerser/Baptist. A number of His detractors addressed were even seen to rejoice in what John was saying. While John’s testimony may, to a degree, be regarded as an unneeded human testimony—Yeshua indicates that He provides it to His audience, because He truly desires their salvation:
“[Y]ou have sent to Yochanan, and he has testified to the truth. Not that I collect human testimony; rather, I say these things so that you might be saved. He was a lamp burning and shining, and for a little while you were willing to bask in his light” (John 5:33-35, CJB/CJSB).
Yeshua offers the supernatural testimony of the Father (John 5:19-30), the human testimony of John the Immerser (John 5:33-35), and then details how the various actions or works He has been sent to perform, also serve as a witness or testimony of Him: “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me” (John 5:36, NIV). Yeshua has not just offered rhetoric here, in terms of being the Son of Man sent from the Father; Yeshua’s identity and mission a substantiated in significant supernatural works. Kruse properly notes, “Far more important than the testimony of John was the testimony of the works Jesus performed…works he had been commissioned to do by the Father. Jesus referred frequently to these works (9:3, 4; 10:37; 17:4) and their evidential value (10:25, 37), and he encouraged those who doubted his words to believe him when they contemplated his works (10:38; 14:11).”
While providing evidence in His favor, just as the Torah would require (Deuteronomy 17:6), Yeshua informs His opponents that while they may profess a belief in the Torah and Scriptures of Israel, they ultimately do not possess true faith. Yeshua’s words in John 5:37, “And the Father who sent Me has testified concerning Me. You have never heard His voice nor seen His form [oute eidos autou heōrakate]” (TLV), likely invoke the Torah themes of Exodus 19:16-26 and Deuteronomy 4:11-12, 33, about the Ancient Israelites hearing the voice of God at the giving of the Torah. Yeshua tells His opponents, “you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent” (John 5:38, ESV), as a rejection of Yeshua is tantamount to rejecting Israel’s Torah. While a bit terse, Beasley-Murray accurately observes, “though the Jews acknowledged that they had not seen the form of God, they prided themselves on being the nation that heard the voice of God—at the giving of the Law at Sinai (Exod 19:16-25; Deut 4:11-12, 33). Jesus denied that claim to his contemporaries, for they do not have the word abiding in them (v 38), as is evident in their rejection of him whom the Father sent, to whom the Scriptures bear witness.”
Yeshua informs His opponents that mere possession of the Tanach Scriptures is insufficient for eternal life, as people must recognize that the Tanach Scriptures speak of Him and His eternal life: “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39, NLT), or “You keep examining the Tanakh because you think that in it you have eternal life. Those very Scriptures bear witness to me” (CJB/CJSB). Yeshua’s unfortunate observation for His detractors was, “you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:40, RSV). And, Yeshua’s further statement, “I do not accept glory from human beings” (John 5:41, NRSV), should be recognized as how the Messiah has a completely different set of values and expectations, than His opponents do. While the Son is to be honored in the same way as the Father (John 5:22), Kruse states of His Jewish opponents here, “Their desire for praise from one another and the absence of real love for God, Jesus implied, prevented them from accepting the Scriptures as a valid witness to Jesus.” Yeshua’s desire was to serve the will of His Father (John 5:30), whereas His detractors were serving their own interests. And so because of this He could say, “but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts” (John 5:42, NIV).
Rather than coming in His own name or authority (Heb. shem; Grk. onoma), Yeshua instead describes how He comes in His Father’s name or authority: “I have come in the name of My Father, and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive that one” (John 5:43, LITV). Contrary to Yeshua the Messiah being the One sent from the Father, someone else may be received by Yeshua’s opponents here, coming in his own name or authority. Examiners often take this as a reference to various false messiahs, false prophets, and failed revolutionaries—who promised deliverance to the Jewish people, but could not provide. Yeshua’s word, “if another comes in his own name and his own power and with no other authority but himself, you will receive him and give him your approval” (Amplified Bible), has also been frequently, and quite rightly, taken as a reference to the character of the coming antimessiah/antichrist (cf. Revelation 13:6).
Yeshua diagnoses the spiritual problem of His opponents, as an inability to seek the glory that comes from God, and instead their desire to receive limited, mortal glory from each other as humans: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44, ESV). Yeshua may have been given the authority to execute the final judgment (John 5:22), but it will be the Torah of Moses which is used against those here, who reject Him, exposing His opponents to be truly lost: “But don’t think that it is I who will be your accuser before the Father. Do you know who will accuse you? Moshe, the very one you have counted on!” (John 5:45, CJB/CJSB). Yeshua emphasize the need for all to recognize how the words of the Torah of Moses, point to Him: “For if you really believed Moshe, you would believe me; because it was about me that he wrote. But if you don’t believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:46-47, CJB/CJSB). Paul would emphasize the same thing in Romans 10:4, describing how “the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts” (Romans 10:4, CJB/CJSB). And hopefully, in our evaluations over the nature of the Messiah, we have adequately weighed the testimony of the Torah or Moses’ Teaching (discussed previously).
 Keener, John, 656.
 “On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness” (Deuteronomy 17:6).
 Kruse, John, 156.
 “So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the LORD spoke to Moses, ‘Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, or else the LORD will break out against them.’ Moses said to the LORD, ‘The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, “Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.”’ Then the LORD said to him, ‘Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, or He will break forth upon them.’ So Moses went down to the people and told them” (Exodus 19:16-26).
 “You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but you saw no form—only a voice… Has any people heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard it, and survived?” (Deuteronomy 4:11-12, 33).
 Beasley-Murray, John, 78.
 Kruse, John, 158.
 Frequently, John 5:43 has been used as a proof text by Sacred Name Only proponents, to support the usage of the linguistically errant form “Yahshua.” It is said that in order for the Messiah to come in the “name” of the Father, that part of the tetragrammaton or Divine Name YHWH must appear in the name of the Son. This logic is highly questionable. To come in one’s “father’s name” in First Century Israel, one’s father’s name would appear after his own name, i.e., Yochanan ben/bar Zavdai (John son of Zebedee). If the application of coming in “His Father’s Name” is applied in this context, then the Messiah’s name should be “Yeshua ben YHWH” or “Yeshua bar YHWH,” meaning “Yeshua son of YHWH,” as opposed to the erroneous “Yahshua.”
For a review of related issues, consult the author’s article “Sacred Name Concerns.”