In our last post we examined two of five witnesses Jesus presented in John 5 that witnessed to the truth of His claims: He is deity and the long promised and expected Messiah. Those first two witnesses were the testimony of John the Baptist, and the works the Father gave His Son to do. This post will examine the third witness Jesus offered which testified His claims were true.
John 5:37-38 says, “And the Father that sent me, he hath born witness to me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form. And ye have not his word abiding in you for whom he sent, him ye believed not”. These verses tells that God Himself bore witness of His Son. From a study of the gospels, we learn of three different occasions when God audibly and orally spoke to His Son.
There is first the well-remembered words God spoke when Jesus was baptized. That account, given in Matt. 3:17, Mk. 1:11, and Lk. 3:22 says, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. John did not directly quote these words, but he made an undeniable reference to them. When he saw Jesus and said to his disciples, “Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29), he then added, “This is he of whom I said, after me cometh a man who is become before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not but that he should be made manifest to Israel, for this cause came I baptizing in water. And John bore witness saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and it abode upon him and I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, upon whosoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending and abiding, the same is he that baptizeth in he Holy Spirit, and I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (Jn. 1:30-34). This testimony of the Father was for all and specifically for the benefit of John the Baptist. Jesus was identified to him as He who would baptize in the Holy Spirit, the One who would come after him, and yet, He was before him. This was God’s declaration that Jesus was His Son.
The second recorded testimony from the Father regarding His Son also is found in three of the gospels (Matt. 17:5; Mk. 9:7, Lk. 9:35). This testimony occurred during the transfiguration of Jesus. His garments became brighter than the sun and two Old Testament figures appeared with Jesus discussing Jesus’ approaching death. On this occasion Peter, not knowing what he was saying, proposed the building of three tabernacles — one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. At that moment a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear ye him”. When the cloud was lifted, the disciples found Jesus alone. This acknowledgement of God that Jesus was His Son had a profound effect on Peter. Many years later when the Holy Spirit moved him to write his second epistle, he said, “For we did not follow cunningly. devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory when there was borne such a voice to him by the Majestic Glory ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’ and this voice we ourselves heard borne out of heaven when we were with him in the holy mount” (2 Pet. 1:16-18). Peter did not add “hear ye him” but those words were for their benefit just as much as God’s testimony was: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. Those words were directed by God to Jesus’ apostles: “Hear ye Him”. God gave all authority to His Son (Matt. 28:18) and told the apostles they were to hear the Son above all others, even Moses and Elijah.
This second occasion in which God spoke to His Son is not recorded by John, but he recorded something that none of the other three writers did. That third instance in which God spoke to His Son was in response to Jesus’ prayer to His Father, “Father, glorify thy name”. The Father responded, “There came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it and will glorify it again” (Jn. 12:28). In this instance the Father responded to the prayer of His Son, saying He had already done what His Son prayed (“Glorify thy name”) and that He would do it again. It was of His Son’s death He referred to, just as Peter would later glorify God in the same manner (Jn. 21:19). Some in the multitude who heard God’s voice said, “It has thundered”. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him” (Jn.12:29). Jesus “answered and said, this voice did not come for my sake but for yours” (Jn. 12:30). Jesus knew that God always heard Him (Jn. 11:41), but the disciples needed that assurance. Jesus was beginning His hour of testing, suffering, and sacrifice, and the faith of all the apostles would undergo severe testing and all would flee, including Peter denying Him. It was Jesus’ resurrection that was the defining moment when their sorrow was turned to joy, just as Jesus had said it would (Jn.16:20). He was, He is, the Son of God!