The Seventh Witness
Many of us are aware of the seven “I AM’s” in the gospel of John, and some of us may be aware of the seven signs (semeion) as well. Others may have listed the seven symbols of Jesus. But have you ever considered the seven witnesses in the gospel of John?
Actually, witnessing is a big deal for John as he used the word 14 times as a noun and 33 times as a verb in his gospel account. To put this in perspective, the other Gospel combined only used it 4 times as a noun and 2 times as a verb. As a matter of fact, the whole gospel is written as a sort of gospel tract to unbelievers as the Evangelist states:
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).
To bear witness or testify is something we cannot gloss over. The Scriptures show us that we are not only to have a first-hand account of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we are to “go on record” by committing ourselves to the truth in the midst of the jury of our world who wants to know if there is enough evidence to believe in Jesus. We testify as those who seek to provide reliable and trustworthy accounts of the living reality of Christ in us. Can we be charged as guilty for confessing Christ? Have we remained neutral or silent in our commitment to the glories and beauty of our Savior?
Consider the first six witness to Jesus Christ as laid out in John’s gospel:
- The Father (-32, 34, 37; )
“And the Father who sent me has himself borne witne ss about me.”John 5:37
“I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” John 8:18
- Jesus Christ (himself) (,18; ,32; )
Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.” John 8:14
- The Holy Spirit (; )
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” John 15:26
- The works of Jesus (; ; )
“But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works 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 5:36
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me.” John 10:25
“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.” John 14:11
- The sacred Scripture (, 45-46)
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” John 5:39
- John the Baptist
“There came a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.” John 1:6-8
John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’” John 1:15
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.” John 1:32
“And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” John 1:34
And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John 3:26
“You sent John, and he has borne witness to the truth.” John 5:33
Now, who is the seventh witness you might ask? It is ordinary people like you and me. Consider the Samaritan woman at the well as she ran back to testify about the Messiah. The commentary states thus:
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:39-42).
The woman’s testimony was the bridge of belief for those in that town. But what about the man born blind? See him testifying before the Pharisees again and again of Him who alone can open the eyes of the man born blind (John 9:1-41). Finally, the Evangelist himself goes on record by concluding his gospel account by saying:
“This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” JohnThe early church of course knew of the call to witness as early as Peter and John was before the Jerusalem Council in Acts 4. The pathos in the profession is compelling:
So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:18-20).
Christianity has for 2000 years been filled with the faithful and reliable of witnesses who, out of absolute necessity, could not stop speaking of what they have seen and heard—many of whom sang their songs of worship while the flames devoured their flesh. I take great comfort and encouragement from the words of Jesus when he told us, “And you will also bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John ). We will also bear witness because the Spirit of Christ will not allow us to remain silent. The question for me, and I hope for all of us, is what have we seen and heard of Christ lately? What have we to tell?
Tom Wells, in his book A Vision for Missions, stated that “those who know the most about God are the most responsible and best equipped to tell of Him.” This reality is glorious and terrifying because what we know we should share with others, and when we don’t the more knowledge we attain and do nothing with, the more we will be held accountable for. When we drink deeply from the Fountain of Delights, the effulgent joy should bring an exuberant witness that can’t help but speak sweetly of Him who has satisfied us with none other than Himself.I just wanted to encourage you today to think about these seven witnesses. We are that seventh witness. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a Triune testimony bear witness to Jesus Christ. The Scripture and the works of Jesus both testify to Jesus. John the