John 5:31-47 “The Power of a Witness”

Ten years ago, when Lebron James was making his first trip to the NBA finals, Nike launched a new advertising slogan that simply said, “We are all witnesses”. The point was that we were all watching something historic, something that was important to see because it would, at some point, be important to tell. That’s what a witness is, it’s not just someone who observes but it’s someone who watches closely so that what they have seen can be reported to those who have not been able to see it for themselves. The thing I’ve always wondered about Nike’s campaign was if they knew that they had stolen it from the first sermon ever preached in the church era. In Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit filled the first 120 members of the church, Peter stood up to preach and as he neared the end of his sermon, in verse 32 he said, “God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of it.” Peter in that first sermon reminded us of something that God had been teaching from the very beginning, there is power and importance in our witness. In John 5, Jesus was being judged by the religious leaders of the Jews. He had healed a disabled man on the Sabbath and then, in their minds, caused that man to sin by telling him to pick up his bed and walk. They persecuted Him for that but then, when He answered their questions, judgment and persecution by saying “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working” they moved from judgment to condemnation, they were ready to kill Him. While it was not in a courtroom and it was not formal, it helps us to understand this passage if we realize that Jesus was on trial. Jesus, in all His kindness, patience and humility offered grace to those that are judging Him. He didn’t lash out, fight back or even defend Himself, rather, He worked to reveal the character of the Father and His own identity as their Redeemer. In today’s text Jesus points to the witnesses of His identity, rather than defending Himself, He calls on the witnesses of John the Baptist, the works the Father called and empowered Him to do, the voice of God and the Word of God. Jesus is not anxious or angry about being judged, He’s content to know that the Father has provided the witnesses for His defense. This morning I hope that we can see that God always has a witness, I pray that we will search our lives, backward and forward and allow the Holy Spirit to point out all the times when we thought we were alone but God had a witness to testify to His presence, when we thought that we had blown it, lost it all or been out of God’s will, but the Father made sure there was a witness of His restoring power, when we went our own way only to remember our Father’s house and be led back to the One who doesn’t change His character even when we succumb to our calamity. I have been praying that we would see the witnesses in our lives but also, that we would realize that we have now become the witnesses in the lives of those who live around us. God has not just called us to be witnesses, He has created us to needed witnesses. May the Spirit and the Scriptures reveal to us today the power of our witness.