Who was Jesus of Nazareth? Thatís a very important question. In finding an answer we should realize that Jesus did not vaunt Himself or put Himself forward inappropriately. In a way, He did not really witness about Himself. But there were witnesses to who Jesus was. One of the witnesses about the true nature of Jesus was John the Baptist. Jesus said concerning John the Baptist in John 5:33-35, "You sent unto John, and he bore witness unto the truth. But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that you might be saved. He was a burning and a shining light: and you were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." In the Jewish society of that day, it was commonly accepted even by the religious leaders that John was a true prophet, and if he was a prophet then the things that he said were true. Remember that John pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." What Jesus was saying to the Jews was that if they believed that John was a prophet, then it was only logical that they would also believe in Jesus because John told them who Jesus was.
You could use the same reasoning to apply to Moslems in our day and age. Moslems believe that Jesus was a prophet, and Jesus is mentioned in the Koran. If Jesus was a prophet, then the things that He said were true. And if the things that Jesus said were true, then Moslems should believe in Jesus in the same way that Christians do. Moslems who do not put their faith in Jesus as the Savior of the world, will find themselves in the same boat as the Jews who failed to trust in Jesus.
In John 5:36 Jesus said, "But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father has given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father has sent me." Some people may not have heard the witness of John the Baptist, but God has more than one way to get the truth of the gospel to the people of the world. Jesus said that a greater witness than John the Baptist was the works that Jesus did. In other words, the reason that Jesus performed the miracles that He did was to prove who He was.
In John 5:37-38 Jesus mentioned another witness to who He was. Jesus said, "And the Father Himself, who has sent me, has born witness of me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape. And you have not His word abiding in you: for whom He has sent, Him you believe not." Most people in the human race have never heard the voice of God the Father. Beware of those who claim that God speaks to them with an audible voice. Itís extremely rare for God the Father to make Himself heard with an audible voice. Therefore, in the few times that He has spoken, what He had to say must have been very important. One of those occasions was at the baptism of Jesus. When Jesus was baptized, the voice of God the Father, the Creator of the universe, was heard from heaven; and He said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Jesus told us about the fourth witness to Himself in John 5:39. He said, "Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." The written Word of God is a witness to the person of Jesus. The main theme of the Bible centers around the gospel: the good news that a loving God has sent a Savior into the world to save the world from sin and judgment. Thatís why a lot of people when they declare the theme of the Bible like to quote John 3:16 which says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
You, along with everyone else in the world, have been presented with these four witnesses that Jesus said were given to witness about Him. The witness of the prophet John the Baptist, the witness of the miracles that Jesus performed, the witness of the voice of God from heaven, and the witness of the written scriptures. You have heard the witnesses: now what is your decision, what is your conclusion, what is your judgment about the matter? The question is: who was Jesus? You have heard the witnesses. Now you are permitted to make a judgment by the free will that God has given you. But be careful what judgment you make about Jesus. One day you will be judged based upon your judgment.
The ultimate and final reason that anyone will end up not believing in Jesus is given in John 5:40. Jesus said, "And you will not come to me, that you might have life." Jesus is not willing that any should perish. In verse 34 Jesus said, "these things I say that you might be saved," and here in verse 40 He said, "that you might have life." If someone does not get saved, it will be because they resist, they rebel, and they refuse to come to Jesus and receive the forgiveness that He offers them. Every human has a free choice. They must choose for themselves to believe in Jesus or not to believe: they wonít necessarily believe simply because Jesus wants them to, and they wonít believe because you want them to either.
When someone chooses to not believe, they fail to believe for the sane reasons as the people who did not believe 2,000 years ago. And this is what Jesus said about such people in John 5:41-42, "I receive not honor from men. But I know you, that you have not the love of God in you." Jesus did not receive honor from men, and He did not seek honor from men. Because of the four witnesses that exist to the person of Jesus, there is more than enough evidence to prove who Jesus is. The explanation to why people do not believe is not because they do not have enough reasons to believe, but itís because of their own spiritual problems and itís because of the wrong attitude that they have. Itís because that what is going on inside of them is exactly what Jesus said in verse 42 that they have not the love of God in them. You had better be careful what you love. Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love God with all the heart, and He said that if anyone tried to serve two masters, that such a person would end up loving one but hating the other. The reason that people do not believe in Jesus is because they want something other than what Jesus offers them. They love themselves or they love money or they love the praise of man more than God. Some people do not come to God until they learn for themselves how empty and vain and foolish and unsatisfying the pursuit of all these other things can be. Some people have to learn the hard way that nothing can substitute for being rightly related with God through Christ.
In John 5:43 Jesus said, "I am come in my Fatherís name, and you receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him you will receive." Most people who speak, speak about themselves. Their purpose is to bring attention to themselves and to honor themselves. But Jesus was not like that. When someone rejects Jesus and receives someone else as their authority, they have used poor logic just from ignoring the principle that if a person inappropriately puts himself forward, he has manifested himself as a proud and self-willed person. One of the things about human beings is that most humans will pick someone to be an authority that they listen to. They will pick someone to be their advisor or their philosopher, and then they will follow that person and they will make decisions based upon that other personsí teachings. But be careful whom you follow. Those who follow Jesus not only have spiritual strength for this life: they also have a life that extends beyond the grave.
In John 5:44 Jesus said, "How can you believe, which receive honor one from another, and seek not the honor that comes from God only?" Jesus said that the reason that some people do not believe can be explained by looking at who they seek to be honored by. You will either seek to be honored by other humans or you will seek to be honored by God. If the opinions of other people bother you too much, then that will be a hindrance to you coming to God. Anyone who comes to Jesus to believe in Him must put aside their fear of what others might think. Which do you want, honor that comes from other humans or honor that comes from God only? If you are going to come to Jesus to believe on Him for salvation, then you must set aside any desire for the honor that comes from man.
In John 5:45-47 Jesus said, "Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuses you, even Moses, in whom you trust. For had you believed Moses, you would have believed me: for He wrote of me. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe my words?" Jesus makes it very clear both here and in other places where He taught that He believed in and approved of the scriptures. Jesus equated the written scriptures with His own spoken words. The written scriptures are the Word of God just as much as the words that Jesus Himself said are the Word of God. God sent Jesus into the world in a miraculous way and brought us the Word. God also inspired holy men of God in a miraculous way in order to give the written Word of God. If Jesus had confidence in, and put His stamp of approval on the written Word of God, then that settles the question. Because Jesus brought to us the greatest and most enlightened teachings about God, we know that He is the final authority on any subject about which He taught. Jesus also said in Mat. 24:35 that heaven and earth shall pass away but His words shall not pass away. Since God gave His Word, and God promised to preserve His Word, we can have confidence that the ancient texts were preserved by the power of God. The Bible that we have today is accurately and reliably the Word of God. Jesus lived 1400 years after Moses, but Jesus expressed confidence in and gave authority to the writings that had been preserved from the time of Moses to the time when He lived. We live 2000 years after Jesus, and we can have the same confidence that Jesus had in the writings. God has preserved the writings, which we call the Bible, so that all generations could know the truth.
The writings that have been preserved are the Word of God. God speaks to us through His word. Thatís why that if someone does not believe the writings, if they do not believe the scriptures, neither would they believe if they stood in the presence of Jesus Christ and heard Jesus speak the Words.
John 6:1-2 says, "After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His miracles which he did on them that were diseased." On several occasions Jesus crossed over the Sea of Galilee. Capernum, where Jesus and the disciples had a house, was on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee; and when they wanted to travel to the other side of the lake, they went by boat. By this time in His life, Jesus had performed so many miracles and become so well known that great crowds followed Him and gathered around Him wherever He appeared. The effect that Jesus had on the people must have been astounding. No one has ever performed the number or the kinds of amazing character of the miracles that Jesus performed. If Jesus were alive today, He would probably have the same effect. If Jesus visited a hospital today, when He walked out, every patient would go with Him. There would be no diseased, no sick, and no injured that He would not completely heal. No one could do that, except Jesus. But Jesus did do that kind of thing in the region of Galilee 2000 years ago. And He became so well known and the people were so amazed by what He did, that they gathered in great crowds around Him wherever He went.
One of those occasions where a great crowd gathered is recorded here at the beginning of John Chapter 6: itís called the feeding of the 5,000 because of the miracle that Jesus would perform. Verse 2 told us why this great crowd of people had gathered around Jesus, and now verses 3 and 4 give us a little more information about the setting. John 6:3-4 says, "And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there He sat with His disciples. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near." Because Jesus and the disciples were on a mountain, it made it convenient for Jesus to look out on the crowd of people that were gathered and to speak to them. Because it was near the Passover, it was a religious holiday in the land, and that made it convenient and appropriate for the people to leave their occupations and busy schedules for a time and to gather around Jesus.
Another significance of it being near the Passover was the fact that one of the important parts of the Passover was a great celebration feast. In one more year from this event Jesus would eat His last Passover feast in the upper room with His disciples. The Passover was always a joyous time for the Jews because it was a celebration in memory of Godís deliverance from the bondage of slavery. God will always take care of His people. There are great examples of Godís care and protection and provision. Itís a good thing to remember the great events of the past, because what God has done for those who trusted in Him in days past, He will also do for us, if we trust in Him.
John 6:5-7 says, "When Jesus then lifted up His eyes, and saw a great company come unto Him, he said unto Phillip, From where shall we buy bread that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for Jesus Himself knew what He would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little."
Jesus and the disciples came to this side of the Sea of Galilee by boat, but the great company of people had to get there by walking. They undoubtedly were very tired and very hungry. When Jesus saw them, He immediately empathized with their needs. In just a moment Jesus would have them to sit down so that they could rest, and He already planned to provide food for all of them. Jesus will perform a miracle so that this great crowd of people can eat and be refreshed, but Jesus will also use the occasion to teach the disciples a lesson about the power of God and the ability of God to take care of His children. Jesus wants His followers to always have hope. He wants us to believe. He wants us to have faith no matter how difficult the circumstances. And He wants us to never forget that with God all things are possible.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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