(If you would like to receive Pastor Harris’ weekly sermons via e-mail, Click here)
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
January 23, 2000
The Son Who Can Give Life
Today is "Sanctify of Human Life Sunday." This is an annual event is promoted by various Right to Life organizations in emory of the 38 million babies that have died by abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision on Jan. 22, 1973. (Estimate by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, special research affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America–the nation’s largest provider and promoter of abortion). On this day a special effort is made to educate people about abortion and other attacks on human life such as infanticide and euthanasia. That is the reason for the special information in this mornings bulletin. There is also additional material on the back table including an audio tape of a sermon I preached two years ago on what the Bible says about the value of human life. You can pick up any those materials for free.
As important as protecting human life is, there is an issue that is of even greater importance – the salvation of the soul of that human life from sin and being separated from God for eternity. In our quest to protect vulnerable human life, we must never forget the more important eternal issue involved. When we talk with the woman that is considering an abortion, we must not only educate her on the true nature of the child within her, but also of God’s love for her soul. When we stand in opposition to the advocate of abortion or euthanasia, we must remember they are not the enemy, but the mission field. Jesus died for their sins as well as yours and mine and they can also find forgiveness in Him. When we write those in political office on these issues, we must remember that we are not after power, but striving to help them make a decision that will be in keeping with the responsibilities God had given to them and for which He will hold them accountable.
This morning we are going to be examining John 5:19-29 and the escalating conflict Jesus is having with those accusing Him of blasphemy for His claim to be equal with God. In the midst of Jesus’ defense, He makes it very plain that His Father has given to Him power over death to give eternal life. Jesus is the Son who gives life.
If you will recall from last week’s sermon on John 5:1-18, Jesus had gone to the pool of Bethesda and had healed a man who had been sick for 38 years. He did so simply by the power of His word. He used to medicine. He did not give any therapy. He simply told the man, "Arise, take up your pallet and walk" (John 4:8). The man was immediately healed and he obeyed Jesus (vs. 9).
The problem with "the Jews," who we defined last week as a reference to the Pharisees and those following their religious system, arose because all of this had occurred on a Sabbath. They had made a lot of their own rules and regulations far beyond what God had commanded. As I pointed out last week, God had commanded that the Sabbath be kept holy as a day of rest. This was in keeping with God’s own pattern set forth at Creation week. The activities of daily commerce were to be set aside and the focus was to be on God. It was a day designed for the benefit of man, but the Pharisees had added so many rules on how to keep the Sabbath that it had become a day of idleness. It also became a burden to figure out how to keep all these rules and still accomplish the daily chores of life. For example, you could not carry a handkerchief because that would be work, but you could wear it, so if you wanted to take a handkerchief to another place, you would have to tie it around your neck, take it to the other room and then remove it.
When these legalists saw the man carrying his little mattress, they became very upset because that was breaking their Sabbath laws. When they questioned him (vs. 10) they completely ignored the fact that he was healed and focused only on his carrying the pallet (vs. 11,12). Later, when the man returned to tell them that it was Jesus that had healed him, they again ignored the healing and focused only on the fact that Jesus had told him to carry his pallet on a Sabbath and began to persecute Jesus (vs. 15,16). Jesus responded to them (verse 17) saying, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." Jesus was not just calling God His Father, but also claiming that His work, including healing a man on the Sabbath and telling him to walk, was the work of God. They became even more angry with Jesus. Verse 18 states, For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. This is the context for our study this morning as this same confrontation continues.
These Jews were angry because they believed Jesus’ claim to be equal with God the Father was false and therefore blasphemy, which is a crime worthy of death according to the Mosaic Law. Their zeal for the honor and glory of God was good and correct, but their conclusion that Jesus was a blasphemer was false. They ignored the miracle which demonstrated His supernatural power and instead condemned Jesus because He broke their man-made rule.
In verses 19-47 Jesus responds by clarifying His claim to be doing the very work of God in verses 19-29 and then He cites four witnesses in verses 30-47 to prove His claim is true. In a way I would like to cover this whole section in one sermon, but there are so many important truths in these verses that we will take two weeks to cover them. This morning we will just be looking at Jesus claims in verses 19-29.
Jesus makes three major claims in this section. Each of them are prefaced with the statement, "Truly, truly, I say to you." This phrase emphasizes that what He was about to say is true and, in this case, is also a conclusion to what He had already said in verse 17. Jesus opponents were already persecuting and seeking to murder Him because they understood that Jesus’ claim made Him equal with God the Father. Jesus not only stands firm on that claim, but clarifies and strengthens that same claim. The thesis of what Jesus says in the next four verses is that He had full authority to heal on the Sabbath and tell a person to pick up their pallet and walk for that was the work of God. 19 Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless [it is] something He sees the Father doing; for whatever [the Father] does, these things the Son also does in like manner.
This first statement is predicated on the fact that Jesus could not act for Himself. "The Son can do nothing of Himself." While we do not understand the inter-relationship of the Triune God, this is an insight into it. We must be careful that when we see the terms "Father" and "Son" being used for one of the persons of the eternal Godhead that we do not take our understanding of a human father and son relationship and apply it directly. Our understanding of a father and son relationship is affected by our own experience of imperfect relationships between independent people. The relationship between God the Father and God the Son is perfect. While the Father and the Son are distinct personalities, They both, as this verse implies, work in perfect harmony with one another. God the Son does not seek any independence from the Father, but works in complete submission to Him. Jesus could heal on the Sabbath because He could only do in like manner what He saw the Father Himself doing. In other words, Jesus healed the man and told him to pick up his pallet and walk because that was doing what God Father was doing. Jesus never broke the Father’s commands concerning the Sabbath, but He did break the Pharisees rules. Jesus offended them, but He did in like manner what the Father Himself was doing.
Not only did Jesus live in complete submission to the Father and did only what the Father was doing, but in verse 20 we find another insight into the relationship between the Father and the Son.
20 "For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.
The word for "love" here is filei (phileo) which is a term of affection as in the word "Philadelphia," the city of "brotherly love." This is a love of personal relationship. God the Father loves Jesus the Son and the demonstration of that is that He shows Jesus everything that He Himself is doing.
This strengthens Jesus’ argument from the previous verse. Jesus did not goof up on something and heal on the Sabbath against God’s desire. Jesus knows everything God the Father is doing. Jesus made no mistake. He healed on the Sabbath because that is what God Himself was doing and Jesus joined the work.
The last section of the verse calls their attention to the fact that this act of healing was not a one time miracle. God would reveal even greater works to Jesus which He would then do which would cause them to be amazed. They had ignored the fact that this man that had been sick for 38 years had been miraculously healed, but their would be things in the future that they would not be able to ignore. What kind of things? Verse 39
21 "For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.
These Jews would have known Deut 32:39 ‘See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded, and it is I who heal; And there is no one who can deliver from My hand. They would have also known and believed the Old Testament stories of God’s raising of the dead – Elijah raising the widow’s son to life (1 Kings 17:21,22) and Elisha raising the Shunammite’s son to life (2 Kings 4:32-35) and Ezekiel’s prophecy about the valley of dry bones being brought back to life (Ezekiel 37). Jesus is prophesying that He would also raise people from the dead as He wished, but keep in mind that what Jesus would wish would only be in keeping with what the Father would be doing.
Jesus raised several people from the dead. There was the widow’s son (Luke 7:14,15) in which Jesus stopped a funeral and raised the young man back to life. There was the synagogue official’s daughter (Matthew 9:18, 23-26) in which Jesus had to first chase out the mourners before He raised her from the dead. The Scriptures do not tell us anything about the reaction of the religious leaders to these, but when Jesus raised Lazarus after he had already been dead for four days (John 11:43,44), they could not ignore it. While some of them believed (John 11:45), others plotted together to kill Jesus because of it (John 11:46-53).
In verses 22 & 23 Jesus continues His claim of equality with the Father. The one who has the power over life also has power over to judge.
22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
Jesus will expand on this theme of judgement in verses 27-30, but here the claim is made to demonstrate equality. In verses 19 & 20, God the Son has equality with God the Father because the Son does the Father’s will and they work in harmony together. In verse 21, Jesus also has equality with God because He has the power and authority to do His own will in keeping with the Father’s will. In verse 22 & 23 Jesus has equality with God because the Father works through the Son to accomplish His will so much so that if the Son is not honored, then neither is the Father.
This struck at the heart of the Jews that were opposing Jesus. It is a direct statement that their effort to honor God by opposing Him was self-deception. The Son is to be honored even as the Father is honored. Please note that the statement is stronger than dishonoring the Son. To fail to honor the Son is to fail to honor the Father. They were not honoring the Father because they were not honoring the Son.
Jesus’ next major claim is in verse 24. 24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Jesus has already claimed to be able to give life and to judge in the preceding verses and He will do so again in the verses that follow. Jesus’ claim here is not so much about Himself but about a promise given to the person who will believe His claims. In preceding verses Jesus has already given a warning that all judgement had been given to Him and that fail to honor Him was also a failure to honor the Father. Jesus will clarify the negative consequences of this in verse 29. In this verse Jesus is about the positive consequence for those that will believe in Him.
The promise made is eternal life. This is not just the idea that the person would have an existence that will continue throughout eternity, for the Bible is clear a person will continue to exist throughout eternity regardless of wether they were righteous or wicked. The difference is where they will spend eternity. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:46, the wicked go away into eternal punishment and the righteous to eternal life. Throughout the Scriptures the expression "eternal life" speaks of a blessed quality of life, not just length. In the context of this verse that blessing is contrasted with the consequence for those that do not have eternal life. They come into judgement. Those who have eternal life do not. Or as Paul put it so well in Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Because they are no longer under God’s condemnation, they are passed out from sin’s penalty of death. The death spoken of here is not physical death, but spiritual death which is eternal separation from God. The final judgement of the wicked in which they are cast away from God and into the eternal punishment of Hell is called the "second death" in Revelation 20.
Please note that the promise here is conditional and its meaning must be taken from its context. The condition is that you must hear the word of Christ and then believe Him who sent Jesus. This is not referring to an intellectual assent to God existing for even the demons believe that, and they shudder (James 2:19). It is hearing what Jesus has said believing that God has sent Him just as He has proclaimed. It is believing that all that Jesus did was exactly what God the Father wanted. It is believing that all that Jesus taught was what God the Father wanted revealed to us. It is believing that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah who is equal with God the Father because He Himself is in fact God in human flesh.
Remember that this fact is the very theme of John’s gospel. As
John 20:31 (NASB) states, but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. That point has been made over and over again in this series on John. The importance of this is too often lost to the American mind because we have grown up in a system that teaches us to give intellectual assent to various ideas without the implications and ramifications of those ideas being considered. Americans often profess to believe in ideas that are opposed to each other and even exclude each other. Reincarnation and resurrection exclude each other, but many people believe both to be true. Many, if not most Americans believe that both Evolution and Creation are true – though, as I have shown in our study of Genesis, they can not be reconciled. A majority of Americans claim to be "born again Christians," yet their general life style is in opposition to Jesus’ commands and example. Even among those professing faith in Christ and attending church, the rate of sexual affairs, abortions and divorce are not much different from society as a whole. Why? Because the professed belief may be in opposition to the actual beliefs which control the life actions.
The ancient Hebrews did not have that kind of mindset. What they professed belief in drove their actions. That is why they were so quick to understand the implications of Jesus’ claim to be doing the work of God the Father in healing on the Sabbath and immediately began persecuting Him and accused Him of blasphemy.
If you actually believe that Jesus is the Son of God, then the implications of that belief will change everything in your life. If Jesus is the Son of God, then He has the power and authority to set the standards for human behavior and judge those who disobey. If Jesus is the Son of God then He has the power and authority to keep the promises He makes to those who follow Him including giving them eternal life. Jesus’ claim is to be the Son of God and there can only be two responses to Him. I can either believe His claim with the resulting ramifications in my life in seeking to follow and obey Him, for that would be the only logical response to that belief. Or, I can reject His claim as being false in some manner. This rejection could be an outright denial of His claims altogether or a denial that He has full power and authority and so there is still some other way to heaven. I can then live my life as I think best. Most Americans fit into this last category. They will not deny Christ outright, but they will reject many of His claims and therefore live their lives as they themselves think best rather than as He has commanded. Their profession of faith is actually false for it is mixed with a large measure of unbelief. The Jesus Christ they profess is not the person described in the Bible.
Starting in verse 25 Jesus makes His third major claim in this passage. Jesus states His power and authority in no uncertain terms. You can either believe His claims and enjoy His promises, or you can reject His claims and face the consequences. And if you reject any of Jesus’ claims, then you are rejecting Him.
25 "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live. 26 "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is [the] Son of Man. 28 "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 and shall come forth; those who did the good [deeds] to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil [deeds] to a resurrection of judgment.
Again we find that Jesus claims to have the same quality and authority as God the Father. He has life in Himself and can give it to others and He will execute judgement. The authority for both of these was given to Jesus in His humanity by God the Father because He is the Son. Jesus refers to God as His father six times in this passage and to Himself as the Son ten times.
The idea of "hearing" the voice of the Son of God is not just having your ears pick up the sound waves, but also of heeding. It is to hear and understand and then do what has been heard. It would only be a short time before Jesus would start teaching the public only in parables in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy that "while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand" (Matt. 13:13,14 cf. Isa. 6:9,10).
The reason that Jesus says that the "hour is coming and now is" is because there were those even then that were hearing, understanding and believing what Jesus was saying and claiming and were passing from being dead in their trespasses and sin to life.
Jesus has authority to both give life and to judge. The final demonstration of that truth will be at the resurrection. This was not something that should have amazed these Jews because the resurrection of the dead is an Old Testament doctrine which the Pharisees believed. It was spoken of specifically in Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Hosea. Isaiah 26:19 is very direct. Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits." So is Daniel 12:1,2 – ". . .and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. 2 "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace [and] everlasting contempt."
Your soul is eternal. Physical death is not the end of your existence. There will also be a resurrection and you will have a new body. The nature of it will be different from the one you have now, but it will be a real body. At that resurrection you will be judged – and please notice the basis of that judgement in verse 29. Those who did the good will receive a resurrection of life. Those who did evil will receive a resurrection of judgement. This is not a works-based salvation, but it a judgment based on the practical consequence of professed belief. Jesus already stated in verse 24 that eternal life is given to those who believe.
What Jesus says here is no different than what He said in John 3:14-21. God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. But belief in Jesus has practical ramifications in how you live. Those who believe practice the truth that their deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God (John 3:21), but those who do not believe hate the light for their deeds are evil and they do not want them exposed (John 3:19,20). But the fact is that the deeds will be exposed including the motives for doing them (1 Cor. 4:5). The final judgement in Revelation 20:13 will be based on your deeds – "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one [of them] according to their deeds." The only escape from this judgement is to have your name written in the book of life – Rev. 20:15 "And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
Jesus has given an invitation in this passage. I want to extend that invitation to you personally. John 5:24 (NASB) "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
If you are here today and hoping that your good will out weigh your bad when you stand before God, I must tell you directly that you are in big trouble. God has told us in Isaiah 64:6 that even all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment before Him. You won’t make it on your deeds. Your only hope is to believe Jesus’ claims and follow Him. Talk with myself or one of the other church leaders before you leave today. We would love to introduce you to Jesus Christ so that you can know your sins are forgiven and you have eternal life.
I know that most of you here today profess faith in Jesus, but I don’t know where you really stand with God. I can be fooled fairly easily because I will take you at your word. I have met many people in my life that professed to believe in Jesus and then later proved their profession was false. Examine your own heart and make sure of what you believe. If you reject any of Jesus’ claims, then your profession is false because you a Jesus you have made up for yourself. Either His claims are true or they are false, but you may not pick and choose among them. You also talk with me or a church leader today. Don’t gamble your eternal future on a false profession.
If you do believe in Jesus of the Bible, then take heed of the destination of the world around you and give serious consideration of how you can tell those you encounter in daily life about your hope in Jesus Christ that they too may come to believe and have eternal life.
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Tell in your own words what it means to believe in Jesus. 2) Discuss with your parents what you believe about Jesus’ claims.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
Why should be highly value human life? What is the most important aspect of a human? In John 5, why were the Jews so upset with Jesus? What were their accusations against Him? Were their accusations correct? Why or why not? What is the purpose of Jesus’ response to them in verses 19-47? What can we learn from the terms "Father" and "Son" as applied to the members of the eternal Godhead? What errors might we make with this description if we are not careful? What is Jesus’ claiming in verse 19? In what way does the Father love the Son? What "greater works" was Jesus referring to in verse 20? What does God give all judgement to Jesus? What is a person guilty of if they do not honor Jesus? What is the condition(s) for gaining eternal life? What is the nature of "eternal life"? What are some of the ramifications of believing that Jesus is the Son of God? What is the basis of Jesus’ judgement? How would you make out if you were judged on that basis? What is the only way that judgement can be avoided? What do you believe about Jesus? What actions demonstrate that belief?
Sermon Notes – 1/23/2000 a.m.
The Son Who Can Give Life – John 5:19-29
The Conflict Arises (John 5:1-18)
Jesus’ First Claim (5:19-23)
The Son’s Submission to the Father (19)
The Father’s Love for the Son (20)
Equality of the Son with the Father (21-23)
Power to Give Life (21)
Power to Judge (22)
Worthy of Honor (23)
Jesus’ Second Claim (5:24)
The Nature of Eternal Life
The Nature of Belief
Jesus’ Third Claim (5:25-29)
The Son Who Gives Life (25,26)
The Son Who Judges (27)
The Resurrection (28,29)
For comments, please e-mail Church office