Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of John (5: 31-47) which continues the confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders of the Temple.
Fr Paul says in the Gospel Jesus cites the testimonies which bear witness to him. First the testimony of John the Baptist (v 31-35). This was especially important because in the synoptic Gospels – the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, when Jesus is challenged about his own authority he replies, asking them to explain John the Baptist’s authority, and they do not dare to answer, for John had been so revered. The Gospels represent the beheading of the Baptist as a palace-party-gone-wrong. The Jewish historian, Josephus, however, says that Herod Antipas imprisoned John because he was afraid that he would start a rebellion; so John, obviously, had a considerable following. The second testimony is that of the works which the Father has given Jesus (v 35-36). Again, in the synoptic Gospels the wonderful works of Jesus in healing, restoring, gathering in sinners and outcasts, are all manifestations of the coming of the Kingship of God. In the Gospel of John, they are signs that Jesus is doing the work of the Father. The third witness is the testimony of the Father (v 37-38). Since they do not receive this testimony, ‘his word finds no home in you’. The fourth witness is the scriptures (v. 39-47), a witness which the Jewish authorities refused to accept. Consequently Moses, on whom they rely, will be a witness against them. In the formation of the New Testament the fulfilment of the scriptures was particularly important. Even the oldest creedal testimony, given by Paul in 1 Corinthians (15: 3-5), twice mentions ‘according to the scriptures’ – both Jesus’s death and his resurrection. The Jews, however, would not accept these scriptures witnessed to Jesus. Today, Fr Paul puts this question to us – How many times does Jesus need to prove who he actually is? Or, like the Jewish Leaders, do we just write him off too?