“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.” – John 5:30-36
Jesus is responding to accusations of religious leaders who ask Him how He can heal on the Sabbath. Now, remember we are talking about Jesus, the Son of God, endowed with power and authority from God. Look at the PATIENCE Jesus extends to these men who were seeking to “kill him” (verse 18). Rather than tout His credentials, become defensive or lose His patience, Jesus humbles Himself and points to God. Rather than pound His chest and say “Of course I can heal on the Sabbath! I created the Sabbath!” Jesus shows us how to be a witness for God, how to glorify God.
Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, says, “By myself, I can do nothing.” This relates back to what Jesus said earlier in this chapter in verse 19. God has given “all judgement to the Son” (John 5:22), and Jesus gives all credit, glory, and praise to God. Jesus depends on God; He watches what God does, and He, in turn, does likewise. “. . . I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”
I have to ask the question: How do you justify your actions when confronted? I don’t know about you, but I believe so often that I can do what I want in my own strength, my wisdom, my effort. When I am confronted about my actions, words or character (whether just or not) my response is typically out of defensiveness and pride. Often, I think I am something and somebody. I am worth defending. I want to uphold and extend my reputation. I want to exalt myself.
Why is that the case? When I look at my life and listen to my heart, my constant mantra, rhythm, and bent is: “My, my, my, me, me, me. How does this help ME? How do you make ME look good? What do I want? What do I need? How am I affected? Look at me! Love me! Praise me! Justify me!” I am prideful and self-centered, that’s why I become defensive and look to myself rather than God.
We were created with a desire to worship (Isaiah 43:21; Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 48:10-11; John 4:23-24; Colossians 1:16), but so often we choose to praise and glorify ourselves. The Bible calls that Pride, and it is a sad substitute for what we were made for.
When I look to Jesus, I see Him deferring to God, praying to God, waiting on God. Jesus’constant mantra, rhythm, and bent is: “God, God, God, Him, Him, Him. What does God want to accomplish today? How does this glorify God? How does this make God look good? What does God want? Look at what God did! Look at God’s accomplishments! See how great and mighty and praiseworthy God is!” Jesus is humble and God-centered. That’s why Jesus can defer to God as His justification rather than Himself. Jesus says, “For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.“ In other words, Jesus tells the Pharisees that He doesn’t have to defend Himself, because He is doing the work of God. Jesus’ actions and words are born out of a desire to please and exalt God, and they are evidence that God has sent Jesus. He is saying what was Paul says years later in Romans 8:31-39 – “If God is for us, who can be against us?… Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
This brings us to a major aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus is not preaching His own message, espousing His own system of belief or teaching His own ideas – He is One Who is sent, He is a messenger, He is an Ambassador for God. Of course He is much more than this, but He is not less than this. Jesus teaches a message about God that glorifies and exalts God, He humbles Himself, is obedient to God, and goes to the Cross for you and me. Look at how God rewards Jesus’ obedience and humility!
Philippians 2:5-11 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
In the same way Jesus came to exalt God and show the way to God, Jesus calls us to go and tell others about Him! Matthew 28:18-20 says, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” We are to tell people about Jesus, His words, His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension. That is the point and goal of our lives. Exalting and praising God through Jesus Christ our Lord is our hope, or goal, our direction. Instead, so many of us have given in to the sad substitute of self-exaltation, idolatry and pride. But Jesus tells us that our lives are to be spent exalting Another, namely Him.
Look at 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 –
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Do you see it? We are not to live for ourselves anymore. We are not to be the center or our lives anymore. We are not to exalt ourselves or build ourselves up or try to be something we are not. We are not to tell others our message or our accomplishments, but we are to be witnesses to His Message and His accomplishments! Our lives are to exalt Jesus! And Who is this Jesus? Just look at the names, titles, and character of Jesus throughout the Bible in this list here. He indeed is worthy of our praise!
George Whitefield was a great English preacher in the mid-1700’s. He was an incredible communicator and teacher. Despite this, there is a story that one time while he was preaching, he noticed a man asleep on the front row. The stage he was standing on was made of wood, so in the middle of his sermon, he stomped on the wooden floor loudly to wake the man up. The story goes that the man woke up, wide-eyed at the loud disturbance. Whitefield looked at the man and said,
“I did mean to do that. I did. If I had come here in my own name with my own message, you can take your ease and prop an eye and say, ‘What hath this babbler to say?’ But I have not come with my own message! I have not come in my name. I’ve come in the name of the Lord of Hosts, and I must and I will be heard!”
This is what we are to be about. We are to be witnesses, exalters of the One who saved us and sent us. Jesus says, “I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me.” Oh, let this be the hope and refrain of my heart! In Jesus, there is real life, real joy, real hope, real deliverance. If I look to myself, there is only my strength, my wisdom, my ability, my hope, my deliverance. And if I believe the Bible, I am not much on my own. I am hopeless, lost, wicked, utterly powerless to determine my own fate. In fact, without Jesus, I’m dead in my trespasses and sins. Not only am I dead, but I’m blind, deaf, and dumb. Not much to celebrate, right? Look to Jesus, glorify Jesus, exalt Jesus.
QUIT PREACHING YOUR OWN GOSPEL AND EXALTING YOURSELF. EXALT CHRIST, THE ONLY ONE WHO IS WORTHY OF OUR PRAISE!