The Witnesses

The Witnesses

Jesus’ defence. Witness of John, of His Father, of His works, and of Moses.

(The Gospel History, Section 38)

I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgement is righteous; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. It is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. Ye have sent unto John, and he hath borne witness unto the truth. But the witness which I receive is not from man: howbeit I say these things, that ye may be saved. He was the lamp that burneth and shineth: and ye were willing to rejoice for a season in his light. But the witness which I have is greater than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father which sent me, he hath borne witness of 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 believe not. Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have is eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life. I receive not glory from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in yourselves. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive glory one of another, and the glory that cometh from the only God ye seek not? Think not that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, on whom ye have set your hope. For if ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Christ’s Defense

4. The Witnesses. Condemnation of the Jews

(The Saviour of the World, Vol II Book II Poem XX)
In pygmy arrogance we strut and cry
Of independence; yielding, we, to none!
“I can do nothing of Myself,” saith Christ,
“No, not that judging I but now affirmed,
“For, as I hear, I judge.” What hear’st Thou, Lord?
Battle of argument, vain, noisy, vexed?
Nay, there be Three who work, Eternal One:
“The Spirit of the Lord doth rest on Me,
Spirit of understanding, knowledge, might,
And of good counsel. He wakeneth day by day,
Morning by morn, Mine ear to hear the truth;
And as I hear, I judge: My judgment, right,—
For not My will I seek.” Here, a new thing;
Gods of the heathen, wilful are they all,
E’en as they please they do, because they choose:
Jehovah’s Self, as the Jews interpret Him,
Arbitrary as are the Nations’ gods:
All men are as the gods conceived of them;
Arrogant, wilful men have such a god
As suits their mood; only in Christ, we say,
“I seek not mine own will, guide Thou my way!”
Here, test for our decisions, great and small;—
Seek we our will?—Not righteously we judge!
Seek we the will of God, hearken we, too,
To Spirit of Counsel ready at our ear?
So may we trust our purpose and go on.

Behold our Lord’s defence,—that thesis nailed
Before the eyes of all men then and now:
Those arguments that show Him one with God;
Claiming Authority as natural right;
Able God’s inmost counsel to reveal!—
We could have done it better, so we think,
Loftier the proofs of His divinity
That we, even we, disciples, could array!
Ah, yes, all lofty things attract us, low,
And Christ, His meekness still our stumbling-block!
Here, for all time, there be infallible proofs:
Ideal seen but in the Son; a test
Here, too, whereby to try our days.

Who teach

And move men’s hearts with words, all orators,
Perceive thoughts of their listeners: Jesus, too,
Followed His audience; proverb in their mind,
A mocking proverb, hindered word of God;—
“Who speaketh of Himself, truth speaks He not;—”
With meekness that amazes, He accepts
Condition thus laid down—sure, not for Him!—
He throws His lot in with us and confirms
Wise adage of the people—He, alone,
Free from the vanity that strives and cries,
Exalts our poor possessions and our parts!
But Christ accepts the rule, brings evidence
As man before his judges: saith, “Another
Bears witness of me and His witness true:”
And every man knew in his heart the truth
Of witness borne of God.

“To John ye sent,

And he of the truth bare witness. Wist ye not
How that he said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’
I’ve seen, and know, that this, the Son of God?’”
This witnessing of John, how dear to Christ,
A cherished recollection! Our poor words
Of love and loyalty, keeps He them in mind?

Why condescends our Master thus to show
The mysteries of Very God to men,
To unbelieving Jews? Not so would we:
His argument He works out point by point,
So, if a man deny, he lies to himself:
We, haughty, scorn such meekness: Let them be!
Purpose He had; by all means, He would save!
So, works, authority and witnesses
Are cited all in turn “that ye be saved.”
“John was a lamp that burned and shined in the night,
“And for a season ye rejoiced in light
“For ye were willing: fire of God in him
“Quickened your deadness for a little while!”
Another witness calls He, His own works,—
(Who went about doing good): ah, what if we
Should summon all our work to count for us,
Our poor, marred, broken, ill-done, tangled work,
When good works Thou preparedst for us to do!

Once more: “The Scriptures search ye,—these are they
“Which, line on line, tell out the history
“Of Jesus, Virgin-born, of men denied,
“Acknowledged of the Father, glorified.
“Of these things law and prophets testify,
“And yet ye will not unto Me draw nigh!”
(Unwilling wills—’tis these deny the Lord!)
“But, how can ye believe who glory seek,
“Honour and praise, from every man ye meet?
“Man cannot serve two masters: ye would choose
“To bring incense of praise and burn it there
“Where self is worshipped; glory I take not
“From men; nor popularity nor power
“At your hands seek I. In My Father’s name
“I come, and ye receive Me not: who comes
“In his own name, him joyful ye receive:
“Whoso pretends to genius, learning, skill,
“For his own honour, cordial kindness waits:
“Who doth his service for the Father’s sake,
“Scant recognition, his! But, I know you;
“The love of God, it is not in your hearts!
“The law of Moses would ye choose indeed
“To guide and rule your lives? Blind, blind are ye!
“Believing Moses, Me ye would believe
“Because he wrote of Me: that very Law
“Ye praise, believe ye as ye please, no more!”

With this last condemnation Christ concludes
That charge of awful moment against the Jews:
We, are we guiltless? Do we pick and choose,
Reject, or consecrate, as pleaseth us?
“Behaviour, speech, why, these are under law:
“But a man’s thoughts, beliefs, he chooses free;
“Nor subject, these, to law of man or God!”
Yet these, the very man: doth God take count
Of unconsidered things of act and speech
Nor heed that spring within whence these take rise?
Thy Jews condemned, grant us, good Lord, to heed!

St. John v. 30-34