Short Meditations in John 5: 37. The Father’s Testimony
Jn 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,
After basically rejecting John’s testimony for himself but recognising that it was for the benefit of the people, Jesus makes reference to the testimony his Father has given to him. Three times in the Gospels God the Father broke into the affairs of His Son, to affirm him.
First, at his baptism: “As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Mt 3:16,17)
Second, on the Mount of Transfiguration, “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!” (Mt 17:5).
Third, in John’s Gospel after the raising of Lazarus and in the run up to the last hours, we read, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.” (Jn 12:27-29)
The two incidents from the Synoptic Gospels bring as double message from heaven – Son, I love you and Son, I am pleased with you. Now what is interesting is that the first of those, at Jesus’ baptism, is before Jesus has started his ministry. It is simply a bold affirmation that He is pleased that His Son has gone to the earth to fulfil the plans of the Godhead – and that He loves him.
In the second incident, on the Mount of Transfiguration, while it is clear that it comes with an instruction to the disciples – Listen to him – it is also clearly an affirmation of love and approval for Jesus himself.
In the third incident, recorded by John, when the Father says He has glorified His name, it is an affirmation of Jesus’ ministry that has one that so far, and will yet do that in the coming days and hours.
The audible voice of God heard on these occasions, reminds us of the voice of God that was heard at Mount Sinai (e.g. Ex 19:19,20), again at most significant times in the life of Israel. Mostly in these three present incidents, however, the voice was not so much for the people, who often either didn’t hear it or attributed it to an angel, but for Jesus himself. It was, in other words, the Father testifying to His love and approval of His Son – for the benefit of His Son at crucial times.