37. The Father’s Testimony

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.

28. The Voice for the Dead

Short Meditations in John 5:  28. The Voice for the Dead

Jn 5:28  “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voic

With this series of meditations (the Short meds) we try to focus the meditation on just one verse as a form of discipline which is a little difficult here as the verse caries on into the next and the temptation is to observe what happens in this verse and then its outworking in the next, but we’ll keep the outworking until the next meditation. What does this one verse say to us?

Well, I suggest, something very simple and also very profound. The very simple thing that Jesus says to whoever hears or reads these words of his, is that they will hear his voice AFTER they die. The phrase “all who are in the graves” can be simply be taken to mean, whoever has already died. It is that simple and straight forward. Now what this must also say to those who think that death is the end is that you are wrong! There is more to come. You may not be bothered with all this talk in the Bible of ‘eternal life’ but these words to Jesus apply to absolutely everyone; note the all who are in their graves.”

Now the more profound thing that follows from this is that after death YOU are going to have dealings with Jesus Christ, because he is saying here that all will hear the voice of the ‘Son of Man’ which we have already noted he applies to himself. He, Jesus, makes this claim that because of who he is, his voice will reach beyond the grave and therefore he is saying that he himself extends beyond death – anyone’s death wherever it occurs in history – and that puts him on a par with God, so we have yet another of these subtle implications that Jesus IS God.

Now when we move on into the next verse we will see what happens and why Jesus will speak but for now (as if there was no follow-on verse) anyone who reads these words should think – “There is an existence after death?  I am going to have to face God after death?” Within this there comes a serious challenge, why would God want to talk to me after death if it were not to talk about how I have lived this live here and now?

I find those who deny there is anything beyond death simply short-sighted. That is not being unkind, but it is an acknowledgment that we normally base our actions and beliefs on evidence. Now there is an enormous amount of evidence to suggest that the Bible is true and can be trusted, and then, that what those who spoke have been recorded in a measure, that can be accepted, but what evidence is there that there is nothing after death? Throughout history this belief of an afterlife has permeated the human race, so why deny it?

45. Awesome Speaking

God in the Psalms No.45God who speaks awesomely

Psa 29:3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.

Sometimes there are things in life that you simply take for granted, breathing for instance, or life itself, or colours or taste, a whole range of things. For those of us who study God’s word, the thing we probably take for granted most and accept without thought is the fact that God speaks. In an earlier meditation we did indeed pick up on the fact that God is a God of communication, but today’s verse goes beyond that. When God speaks, things happen. In this respect He is very different from us. We can use words and nothing changes (if it’s in respect of people, to people, they may change), but when God speaks so often, it is a command and when God commands, the world changes. God speaks and material things change. How does he do that? It’s beyond our finite minds. He’s God and when we say He’s all-powerful, we mean it. He only has to speak it and things change.

In this psalm, David perhaps is under cover watching a thunder storm. He sees the thunder as God speaking. He starts the psalm with a call to ascribe to God glory and strength or power. It’s like he’s saying, you need to see God as He really is, acclaim Him for who He really is. Later in the psalm he says, And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” (v.9). The end result of thinking of these things is that the people will give glory to God. Why? Because they will have seen His might and His majesty as they look on Creation and see the works of God. Seven times he refers to the voice of the Lord”. God speaks and it happens. At Creation, each act of creation was bought about by God saying,Let there be…” (Gen 1:3,6,9,11,14,15,20,24,26). The same thing: God speaks and it happens. In this psalm today, David sees the Lord speaking and thundering (v.3), breaking trees (v.5), even the oaks (v.9), and shaking the desert (v.8). Yes, for the materialist this is purely the work of nature (don’t let’s give it a capital ‘N’ for that seems to suggest personality), temperature changes that brings about thunder and rain and lightening. For David, this is the voice of God at work, a mighty voice having mighty effect.

Have you ever stood in a thunderstorm with a sense of awe? We’re told that one lightning strike can carry enough electricity to power 10 million homes for one month, and there you are standing there with deafening thunder and lightening strikes of incredible power ever few seconds. If that isn’t awesome, what is?  Of course scientists can observe temperature and pressure changes but why should they happen? Don’t be silly, says David, just recognize here the power and presence of God in His Creation. He speaks and things happen.

The struggle to understand ‘providence’ is the struggle to see the hand of God and hear the voice of God. Was God in this flood or that hurricane?  We’ll never be able to answer that confidently this side of heaven. The Bible suggests, at the very least, He is behind it sometimes. There are Biblical examples of God bringing ‘natural’ effects to bear to destroy enemies. Whether it’s all or some, we could be in danger of missing the point: God can speak and this can be the effect. He can do it and sometimes, at least, does do it. That makes Him awesome, that brings a proper perspective in life. In the early years of the 21st century we have seen a considerable number of such ‘natural catastrophes’. What they tell us is that we’re powerless. Let’s give Him proper respect and worship.