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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 62 - John 5:39, 40 - Bible Testimony to Jesus, and Man's Refusal of it Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




Bible Testimony To Jesus, And Man's

Refusal Of It.


     "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not com to me, that ye might have life."-John 5:39, 40.



     In opposition to the denial and disbelief of the Jews, the Son of God produces his "witnesses." He has many, but He calls only four,-John the Baptist, his own miracles, the Father, the Scriptures. These all testify of Him before men, that they may believe and be saved. It is the last of these that we have to consider, as here put by our Lord, to meet the unbelief of Israel and to establish his own claims.

     I. The Scriptures. God has "spoken" ("thus saith the Lord"); and God has "written" ("it is written"). That which He has spoken and written make up what we call "the Bible," or "the Book," which Paul calls "Scripture" (2 Timothy 3:16), which our Lord here calls "the Scriptures," or the "Writings." He has spoken by human lips and written by human pens, yet all that is 'thus given to us is divine, superhuman, supernatural. The thoughts are the thoughts of God, and the words are the words of God. That our Lord should refer to them to prove his Sonship and his Messiahship, shews the stress which He laid upon them, the divine accuracy which He ascribed to them. It is with confidence in their accuracy that He appeals to them. If the words are inaccurate or unintelligible; if they are but the results of man's efforts to clothe divine thoughts in human language, then the demonstration goes for nothing, the proof fails; Jesus may not, after all, be what the words imply that He is,-the Son of the Highest. If the words be not of God, there is no security for the thoughts; if the words are not correct, the thoughts extracted from these words are not to be relied upon as God's; and if the words be incorrect, and the thoughts doubtful, we have no "Scripture," no "Bible." The one fragment of the supposed superhuman has been stripped of its divine glory.

     II. The search. The word "search" is the same as is used concerning God as the searcher of hearts, and implies the thoroughness of the search. In our translation this is a command,-"Search the Scriptures,"-bringing out an admirable meaning. But it may be, "Ye search"; and this accords better with the argument of the speaker, and with the state of those to whom he was speaking. The Jews were great searchers of the Scriptures. They had profound reverence for the word of God. They never made any question as to its accuracy or verbal inspiration. They were almost superstitious in the way they affixed meanings, not to words only, but to letters. Our Lord appeals to them as searchers of the word,-careful and reverential searchers of the word. They had, in truth, no other book to search. Their literature was almost wholly divine. We are overwhelmed with books; and hence in the matter of "searching" we come far behind old Israel. It would be well for us to study, to search, to reverence the book of God,-the one fragment of the supernatural which exists on earth,-the record of divine utterances, the exponent of the mind of God.

     III. The reason of the search. "Ye are persuaded that in them ye have eternal life." It was not in mere curiosity that Israel searched the word, though they did so in much ignorance and unbelief. They had some idea of the hidden treasure that was there. They knew, or professed to know, that not only was knowledge there, but life was there; that God had given them his book, that by it they might obtain life. Yes; in that book is life;-eternal life. It is the revelation of life;-of the living one;-of Him who said not only, I am the way and the truth, but the Life. We search in this book for life!  Other things, no doubt, are there; this but especially. For other things we dig into this wondrous mine of heavenly gold; but above all for this,-the life that is deposited there. Its truths are living truths; its words are living words,-"The words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life."

     IV. The divine testimony. "They are the scriptures which testify of me." No other writing contains a testimony to Messiah." There are books many, and speakers many; and in their utterances we hear of gods many and lords many; but only one book contains a testimony to the Christ of God. We have philosophers, poets, logicians, orators, but no witnesses for the Son of God. Augustine admired Cicero, but after his conversion he lost his relish, for the name of Christ was not there. Only of one book can it be said "it testifies of me." Yes; the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy and of all Scripture. The theme of the book is Messiah; the seed of the woman; the seed of Abraham; the star out of Jacob; the prophet like unto Moses; the righteous One; the tender plant; the righteous King. It is one unbroken testimony to the Christ and his sacrificial work that we get in this volume. The testifier is the Holy Ghost (John 15:26). It is His voice we hear throughout Scripture speaking of Jesus. It is His testimony that is presented to us as the resting place for our faith; for when God bids us believe, He gives the fullest and surest evidence for us to rest our faith upon. Wherever, then, we turn in Scripture, we find Jesus. There He is all in all; the alpha and the omega of every book. It is the light of Jesus that is diffused through every page. It is the glory of Jesus that we find in all its revelations. He is everywhere in that volume; and He is so in connection with eternal life; in connection with the undoing of the sentence of death passed against our race. The first Adam comes before us at the beginning; but he is the introducer of death; with his name and doings only death is linked. But he soon passes away, and in his place there comes the "second man," the "last Adam," the giver of life, nay, the life. And over all Scripture the quickening, life-giving fragrance of His name is diffused. Christ and life; life in Christ; Christ our life;-these form the very essence, the sum and burden, of the Scriptures. "They are they that testify of me."

     V. Human perversity. "Ye will not come to me that ye might have life." Here is rejection of the Christ; refusal of the life; deliberate standing aloof from the fountain of life; professing to seek the life, yet disjoining that life from the living one; turning away from that living one, when in the form of true humanity he stood before them presenting to them this life of God; pressing to their parched lips the full cup of living water from God's eternal fountain.

     (1.) There is life for the dead. The Bible assumes that the world is dead; that it needs life; that nothing less than life will meet its case. It speaks of life; proclaims life; reveals its fullness. O dead in sin, there is life for you!

     (2.) This life is in Christ. Only in Him. None anywhere else. In Him is life, and the life is the light of men. All else is death. "The last Adam was made a quickening spirit" (1 Corinthians 15:45).

     (3.) Life is to be had by coming to Christ. Come and live, He says, just as He said, Come and rest. Intercourse with Him is the only source of life. Nothing more is needed; nothing less will do. Are not men trying to do with something less than this? Something less than conversion, less than the Spirit's work, less than the blood and righteousness and salvation of the Son of God!

     (4.) Want of life is the result of our own deliberate refusal to deal with Christ. We need not try to throw the blame on God's sovereignty or the need of divine power. These do not alter our responsibility, nor make it less true that we have deliberately rejected the Christ of God and refused his gift of life.