by Michael E. Brooks
“If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of me, and I know that the witness which he witnesses of me is true. You have sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth” (John 5:31-33 NKJV).
In my years of interaction with greatly contrasting cultures, I have learned to be cautious about what I say concerning life in the United States.
Though communications via Television and the Internet have spread much more awareness of the whole world, there are still some things that just do not communicate clearly through pictures. One simply has to experience it personally.
Few Banglas or Nepalis would openly question my word about U.S. conditions. Yet as I try to describe some things, I easily perceive a considerable doubt in the hearers. They have their own presumptions; one man’s word in opposition to those is easily disputed.
Jesus himself recognized this principle. He did not expect or demand that the Jewish leadership of his day accept him as the Messiah strictly on the basis of his own claims. Rather he offered the testimony of multiple witnesses — including his Heavenly Father, and the prophet John (John 5:32-33).
In subsequent verses he produced even more witnesses:
“For the works which the Father has given me to finish – the very works that I do – bear witness of me that the Father has sent me” (John 5:36).
“For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me” (John 5:46).
By proving his divine mission in this way, Jesus recognized the principle of the Law:
“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15).
The inspired apostle Paul brought this principle into the New Covenant:
“This will be the third time I am coming to you. ‘By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1).
Though this principle originated in a legal environment, Jesus applied it to Christian faith. One person’s word is not enough to establish the truth. There must be an agreement between multiple, diverse witnesses.
It is no accident that eleven apostles (not to mention a host of others; see 1 Corinthians 15:4-8), saw the risen Christ and were commissioned to be witnesses of that fact (Acts 1:8).
Nor is it mere coincidence that the Gospel was established on the basis of both prophets and apostles (Ephesians 2:20), or that many miracles were done by Jesus and his followers to further confirm truth (John 20: 30-31).
There are major religions today which were founded upon the unsupported testimony of one person. Though claims were made of miraculous visions and revelations, the only tangible evidence supporting those claims is one person’s word.
When we recognize that the Son of God himself would not expect men to believe him on that basis alone, should we not pause and ask for additional proof?
Abundant historical evidence supports Christian faith. Let us never settle for anything which is based upon less.