John 5:33-38 The Word is key to encountering God

John 5:33-38

33 You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34 But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

36 But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish — the very works that I dotestify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.

37 And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. 38 You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.


Jesus found Himself defending His testimony as being the Son of God. He drew their attention towards the testimony of John, the testimony of His works and the testimony of the Father and the Word. Today, we discuss the limitations of men’s testimonies and miracles pertaining to evangelism and spiritual growth. The Word is the key and channel that enables men to hear God and to encounter Him.


You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth.

The Jews had earlier sent a deputation to John to investigate his identity and activities (John 1:19). John, in his reply to the deputation, told them of the One whose way he was preparing. He later on pointed to Jesus as the One, and testified that He was the Son of God (John 1:29-34). John did testify to the truth and if they had received his message, they would have obtained salvation. However, while they welcomed the news of the coming Savior, they did not take prompt action to repent while John’s lamp was still burning. After the lamp of John has been removed, Jesus Himself – the Light of the world continued to testify. Therefore, Jesus did not depend on any single human being to perpetuate His testimony as Son of God as His testimony will never be held ransom by any man.

The very works that I dotestify about Me.

The works that the Father had given to Jesus testified to His Sonship. By accomplishing these works, Jesus showed Himself as the Son of God. These divine works include His revelatory teachings, miracles, and the cross, the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These works are greater than the testimony of John. What does it mean by greater? Jesus’ works are divine in form and substance such that it unmistakably points to the authenticity of Jesus as the Son. Hence, works are considered greater in that it leaves little room for doubt as compared to John’s testimony.

And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me.

Now, it follows implicitly and by inference that the greatest or weightiest testimony (concerning Jesus) is from the Father and the written Word. The Father testified by speaking through a heavenly voice which acclaimed Jesus as Son of God at His baptism, together with the impartation of the Spirit in visible form (as a dove). Although Jesus’ hearers had never received such audible or visible communication of the Father’s testimony concerning the Son. But that testimony had been communicated to them through “many and various ways” (Hebrews 1:1), but they had summarily rejected it. The word as spoken by the wise men and prophets have all in unison lent credence to Jesus as the fulfillment of their prophecies. Although the Jews possessed detailed knowledge of the scriptures that captured former revelations and foreshadowed the final revelation, yet they could not hear the divine Word as spoken concerning Jesus.


Believers cannot grow by hearing testimonies of fellow men and seeing miraculous signs without knowing the Word. The Word is a personal revelation from God spoken through His Spirit. The apostle Paul said, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Testimonies of men endeavor to attest to the love and the power of God through their accounts. However, such testimonies hinges on the trustworthiness of the testifier. On the other hand, miraculous signs unmistakably display the attributes of God beyond doubt – “I was blind, but now I see!” (John 9:25). Men’s testimonies and miraculous signs no doubt are powerful channels to reveal God to the world; nevertheless, God remains distant through these channels. Unless, God speaks and connects personally and intimately, men cannot approach God and grow in faith. It is through the Word that believers grow in Christ-like wisdom, love and power. It is through the repository of the Word in the soul, that God becomes lucid and intimate. I have seen some church circles chasing after miracles. It comes to a point when it all becomes trite and counterproductive. More testimonies and miracles do not necessarily promote faith. If the believer could not live out faith in the mundane matters of life, how is it possible for them to demonstrate faith for bigger things? The Word regenerates the heart and prepares men for greater exploits. In enabling people to encounter Jesus as Son of God, there was the testimony John, then the greater testimony of the works, and finally, the greatest testimony of the Word.

It is possible that one might know the Word in great detail but still could not encounter God. The Word is the primary channel through which God’s revelation touches men. The Word is like a seed that grows and produces fruit of divine wisdom, love and power. The Jews, however despite their intimate knowledge of the Word opposed Jesus and murdered Him. There are many churchgoers today who despite their knowledge of Christ and having received the gifts of the Spirit remained self-centered and worldly. What has gone wrong? The Word of God though divinely inspired and life transforming requires the virtues of meekness and pliability in order to germinate and bear fruit of faith. Without meekness and pliability, there will only be the festering of pride, selfishness and hypocrisy.

When God and men see your good works, they will vouch openly for you. Therefore, Jesus did not ever have to vouch for Himself. Even today, millions of believers would willingly give their lives for Him. Jesus had John the Baptist testified for Him. His miraculous works and His sacrifice on the cross attested to His identity as Son of God. The Father Himself placed His mark of approval upon Him. Hence, there is absolutely no necessity for us to trumpet our achievements and good deeds. As the Father openly vouched for Jesus, He will do the same for you today if you are worthy. One who vouches for himself is most awkwardly incredulous and dismissible. Today, many self-proclaimed philanthropist exalted themselves by trumpeting their donations on the news. In doing so, they have already received their reward on earth. But the true sons of God live for the sole purpose of pleasing the Father in all their endeavors.


  1. Are you accustomed to reading testimonies of fellow men being dependent on them for your encouragement? Are you drawn to motivational messages and books to help you feel better? The Word is the primary channel through which God imparts His Spirit. Therefore, we must develop our discipline in reading the Word through which we receive our solid food for the day.
  2. Are you concerned that no one ever vouched for you? But as you learn to vouch for the truth and stand up for the defenseless, you will soon find others vouching for you. The golden rule is to do for others, what you want others do for you.
  3. Do you find it difficult to hear God speak when you read the Word? Perhaps, you have not been truly interested in God as opposed to what He could do for you. If we could be truly interested to know His thoughts and passion, He will reveal them to our spirit.

Dear Lord, I thank you for revealing yourself to me through a myriad of ways. I desire to know more of you and what is currently weighing on your heart. I desire to participate in the work of your kingdom. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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