On Friday, all three of my grandchildren were sitting innocently on the couch when I hear a plate bounce off the floor. I went in, admonished the assorted humans on the couch and put the plate back. The littlest one was “using it” to eat some toast. She actually had toast in both hands and wasn’t really using the plate, but I put it back on general principle.
And then, the plate hit the floor again. I picked it up and asked the toddlers who had knocked the plate to the floor… What comes next won’t surprise you. The baby got thrown under the bus. Probably because she’s the one who has the least ability to defend herself.
The boys said: “baby Lana did it.” I looked at baby Lana, who said, and I quote: “gah!” in her adorable little voice.
I was dealing with unreliable testimony. The boys knew that if they confessed they might get “in trouble” (which is pretty gentle at Papa’s house). When you have unreliable testimony, you don’t know what to do. I could give them all a time out, or a stern look, or even a lecture about responsibility. But the reality of it is, that it could have been “baby Lana” all along. She’s cute, but she’ll climb the piano in a heartbeat.
Well, I was faced with unreliable testimony, but reliable testimony is the basis of much that we believe. Why do you believe there were hurricanes in both Texas and Florida, or earthquakes in Mexico? Reliable testimony! Often with video footage!
In the ancient world, there was no video evidence, people relied on good testimony to report events. In John 2:23-3:36, factual testimony is given by Jesus and John the Baptist that true worship of God comes through Jesus, and only through Jesus. John 3:36 says this: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them.”
This idea is repeated in the context, stated first by Jesus and then affirmed here by John the Baptist. These men are giving reliable testimony which must be believed. The original readers (who probably listened to the Gospel being read) were probably either Jews who had become followers of Jesus or Jews who had not. And so, what’s the message? On the one hand, this text supports the Christians encouraging them that they are following God correctly. On the other, it pronounces judgment on those who have rejected Jesus.
And here’s where we must come to terms with the text. John’s Gospel says it’s Jesus or condemnation. I’ll take Jesus!
If you’re interested in the full sermon video, here’s the link: https://youtu.be/0kdy8EhoZtA