Attorneys prize effective witnesses. In effort to make a persuasive case they search for individuals who may provide a clear and compelling testimony. Similarly, we observe the work of the human authors in the gospel accounts. They are careful to appeal to various witnesses in effort to prove their point that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (cf. John 20.31). Perhaps one of the most compelling witnesses that the authors call upon is the Scripture.
Obviously the authors, such as John (and Jesus himself!), believed that the Scriptures provided a clear, convincing, and compelling testimony of Christ. One of the louder and emphatic statements to this effect is made by Jesus in the context of a little theological scrap with the Pharisees:
(Jn. 5.39) You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,
Jesus is clearly calling the Scriptures to bear here as a chief witness in his defense. He is saying that they provide a clear, convincing and compelling testimony of him. And just so they are clear of what he is saying Jesus says,
(Jn. 5.46) For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.
This is quite remarkable. Jesus is making the point that Moses was building the case for Jesus before the incarnation. Moses was sketching in pencil what John would later color in with full color, that God would come to dwell with his people and give them ultimate rest from the seemingly relentless curse of sin.
Now I want to save you some disappointment before you run to your concordances and look for ‘Jesus’ in our Old Testament section. We do not read of Moses mentioning him by name. However, I do not believe that it is an exaggeration to say that we do see the Old Testament writers, indeed all of Scripture, fairly preoccupied with the person and work of Christ (cf. 1 Pet. 1.10-12; Lk. 24.25-32; 44-46). In fact, the writers of the New Testament, particularly the gospels, back up the semi-truck full of Old Testament quotes, references, pictures, illustrations, and metaphors to serve as an effective witness of Jesus. The writers see continuity in God’s unfolding drama of redemption. God is working out his redemptive purposes throughout history and it all, ultimately, points to Jesus.
The writers do this with direct quotations and with indirect references. In John alone we see the specifics of Jesus’ zeal (Jn. 2.17 & Ps. 69.9); Jesus is the true manna (Jn. 6 & Ex.16.15); Jesus is the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths and the source of true satisfying water (Jn. 7.1-38 & Lev. 23.34ff, Deu. 16.13); Jesus’ is betrayed (Jn. 13.18 & Ps. 41.9); Jesus’ garments are divided (Jn. 19.24 & Ps. 22.14); Jesus’ bones are not broken (Jn. 19.36 & Ps. 34.20). And on and on the list could go.
One of my favorite passages that John calls to testify as to the authenticity and unmatched beauty of Jesus is John 12. John references the glorious scene in Isaiah 6 where the prophet sees a vision of the LORD of Glory and is undone quickly and finds himself face down and full of worship. John clues us in a bit here as to who and what was seen. The context is a narrative that is talking about Jesus and then John is relating how Isaiah relates to this. He writes:
(Jn. 12.41) Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.
Isaiah saw the glory of Christ and he wrote of him. This is amazing. The Holy God of Israel, the LORD, Yahweh, put on flesh and dwelt among us (Jn. 1.12). John is calling the Scripture to the stand to show that it all aims to testify to the authenticity and utter glory of the Lord Jesus.
Personally I love that this is true. I love that the Scriptures are a continual soundtrack of the matchless beauty and worth of Jesus and his work. I love this because I forget! I forget his value. I become dull and unimpressed with his glory. Then I turn to the Scriptures and I am confronted by the glorious harmony in which the biblical authors sing the soundtrack to the drama of redemption. They sing the gospel song. And they do what they intend to do again and again, they convince me afresh of the value of Christ.
And then we echo Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (Jn. 6.68-69)