About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Life Through The Son (ch. 5:16-30)

 

In this part of the gospel of John we see the real problem that the Pharisees had with Jesus, and that was the fact that Jesus was stating that He was Godís Son, making Him divine. 

 

In verse 16 we note that the Jewish religious leaders began to persecute Jesus because He was breaking their Sabbath rules. Note that the broken rules were their rules, not God's rules.    

 

In verse 17 Jesus says that "His Father is always at His work, to this very day, and I, too, am working.Ē  Even while Jesus was on earth, God the  Father was working, and the context suggests that both God and Jesus ere working on the Sabbath. 

 

What kind of work could God and Jesus be doing?  There might be a number of answers to this question.  We noted earlier that angels would descend and ascend upon Jesus.  It might be possible that God the Father was involved in sending these angels.  John the Baptist was still preaching and baptizing.  God the Father might well have been involved in his preaching.  I suppose there are all sorts of ways that God the Father is involved in doing work on His own, through Jesus, or through angels.

 

Verse 18 continues by saying that the Pharisees were now persecuting Jesus for two reasons.  The first was breaking their Sabbath rules and the second was Jesus' claim to divinity by saying He was the Son of God.  Remember, we're still very early in Jesus' ministry.  He has a lot more persecution to come. 

 

In verse 19 the NIV says "I tell you the truth."  These English words are translated from Greek text that reads "amen amen."  The word "amen" is not a Greek word.  It's a Hebrew word that has simply been transliterated into Greek and then into English for us.  Transliterated means that the Greeks or the English never invented a Greek or English word for the Hebrew word "amen."  Both languages simply use the Hebrew word "amen."  The word simply means "trust or faithfulness," or something similar.  Jesus is saying, "Trust me when I say that I the Son can do nothing by myself.  I only do what the Father does, because what He does I do."  It's clear that Jesus does what the Father does because as John said in chapter 1, verse 1, Jesus is the mind of God.  It is impossible for Jesus to do anything different than His father because of their oneness.             

 

Culturally speaking, no one ever started a Greek sentence "amen amen."  They'd close a sentence with "amen amen", but never start a sentence with these words.  What Jesus was doing here was dramatically bringing what He is about to say to their attention.  It was if He was clapping His hands, pounding His fists on a pulpit, in order to catch the attention of these Pharisees.   

 

In verse 20 Jesus says that "the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He does."  We can't begin to comprehend how God the Father loves His Son Jesus.  The fact of their oneness exist makes it even harder to comprehend.  A human mother and father love their children.  So, just think how you love your children and know that God's love for Jesus surpasses your love for your children by light years.

 

One way in which God loves Jesus as John says here is that God the Father shows Jesus everything.  This clearly shows a separation between Father and Son within their unity.  God shows Jesus what He does because Jesus represents His Father to both the Jews and the rest of the world.  Jesus has to see these things if He is going to relate them to us.        

 

Then Jesus goes on to say that "to your amazement," meaning the amazement of the Pharisees, "He (the Father) will show Him (Jesus) greater things than these."  What are these greater things?  The word "these" refers to Jesus' miracles.  God the Father is going to show Jesus greater things than the miracles that He is presently doing. 

 

In verse 21 Jesus partly explains what He is speaking about.  He says that "just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son gives life to whom He is pleased to give it."  How does the Father raise the dead?  It is quite possible that we can understand Jesus' words this way.  It is God the Father who has made all of us eternal creatures.  When someone dies, it is God the Father who raises them into eternal life, either in paradise or Hades, yet, Jesus says that He has the power to give life as well.  Jesus, through the preaching of the gospel and later the giving of the Holy Spirit brings new life to us in a spiritual sense that carries on into eternity. 

 

In defense of His divinity in this section Jesus states three things that He does that God also does.  He does everything God does (verse 20), He raises the dead like God (verse 21), and, He judges like the Father (verse 22).    

 

Note the words "to whom He pleases."  Those of the Calvinist persuasion would point out that Jesus predetermines who He pleases to save.  I believe that Jesus pleases to save all mankind, but beyond that, I believe this statement suggests that no one can be saved unless Jesus calls him to Himself to be saved.  The timing of our salvation isn't in our hands.  I believe it is in God's hands, and for that reason, who should be praying for the unsaved.     

 

Verse 22 begins with the word "moreover," meaning that Jesus has something else to say that is very important.  He says that "the Father judges no one but has entrusted all judgement to the Son."  You should remember that God the Father has handed all things over to Jesus until that day when all things are under His feet, under His total control, as seen in Paul's explanation of the resurrection of the dead in 1 Corinthians 15.   All things include judgment of people. God has handed all things over to Jesus, including judging so that everyone will "honour the Son as they honour the Father", as Jesus says in verse 23.

 

You may recall back in chapter 3, verse 17, that John says that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn or judge the world but to save the world.  You might wonder how to reconcile that verse with this verse.  When Jesus first came into the world, His mission was to save it.  When Jesus returns to this world His mission is to judge it.      

 

Honouring Jesus is the crucial point here.  All religions honour God but only Christians honour the Son.  Jesus is saying that it is just as important to honour Him as it is to honour the Father.  Again, this speaks of Jesus' divinity.  This is where the Pharisees had problems, and where many of the problems are today.  God is not the problem.  Jesus is the problem when it comes to nonbelievers.  We can speak of God all we want and not offend anyone, but, once we speak of Jesus, especially Jesus as being God, then all hell is loosed.

 

As we saw before, in verse 24, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth," or as the KJV puts it, "verily verily."  The Greek words "amen amen" that are transliterated from the Hebrew are the words in this verse that are translated "I tell you the truth."  Amen means "faithful or trustworthy."  

 

In verse 24 Jesus says that "whosoever hears my words and believes him who sent me will have everlasting life and will not be condemned."  Two words are important here.  They are the word "hear" and the word "believe."  Before one can believe, they first hear what to believe in.  It was the job of Jesus to preach so people could hear.  That job was handed over to us at Pentecost.  Once people hear they then have the choice to believe, that is, give themselves to the truth that they have heard.  They also have the choice to reject what they have heard.  It is our job to preach and teach so people can hear.  It is also our responsibility to teach and preach what the Bible teaches.  This is not always the case in today's church, since in many areas of the church, including the Evangelical church, the Bible has lost its significance.  

 

Again, we must, by definition of the Greek word "pisteuo" and by the way in which the Bible uses this word, understand believe to be trust.  That is to say, once we hear the message of God and Jesus we must trust and give ourselves, not just to the message, but to God and Jesus. 

 

Jesus says that the ones who believe "cross over from death to life."  From the fall of man in Genesis 3, we are dead.  You may think you are alive, but, you are on the road to physical death and always have been dead in one real sense of the word.  Compared to who Adam was before the fall, he, and us too, are dead.  We just don't realize how dead we are. 

 

Once physical death takes place, we will be in the process of dying for eternity.  We will be in the process of wasting away to nothing as from a severe illness but never being able to die.  How horrible, but, if we give ourselves to the truth of Jesus, at the point of first giving ourselves to Him, we pass from death to life.  It is like exiting off a major highway onto another highway with a different destination.  We donít pass from death to life when we die.  We pass from death to life at the point of believing because we receive Godís Holy Spirit.  The life of the Spirit carries us into eternal bliss.

 

The truth, or the reality of things that Jesus is uncovering at this point is the fact that at some point in time the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and will live.  In fact Jesus says "the time will come and now is."  As I've said before, only Jesus can say that something has not yet come but has already come at the same time.  If Jesus says something is coming, it is as good as already come. 

 

At some future point, those of us who have given ourselves to the truth will hear the voice of Jesus, not the Father, and we will rise into life eternal.  Though that has not yet come, Jesus by His words is saying that it is as good as done. 

 

Verse 26 is interesting.  Jesus says that both He and His Father have "life in themselves."  What does this mean?  It means that they did not derive life from anyone else.  We derive our life from our parents.  Our parents derive life from their parents and so on back to Adam who derived his life from God, but, both God and Jesus derived life from no one.  They are life and the author of life.  They had no beginning.  They have always been.

 

In verse 27 Jesus says that God has given Jesus the authority to judge.  For the second time Jesus makes this point.  It will be Jesus that we will stand before some day.  We will give account of ourselves before Him.  He will judge us based on what we have done with Him, whether we have given ourselves to Him or not.  If we have given ourselves to Him, He will in turn give us to His Father.  On that day, we will have no legal or human leg to stand on.  Our only defense will be the cross of Christ. 

 

In verse 28 Jesus clearly states that this judgment will take place at a future date, even though He has already said that the time is coming and now is.  He says that "the time is coming when all in their graves will hear His voice and come out Ė those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will be condemned."  Does this mean that our salvation is based on what we have done, either good or bad?   I donít believe so.  The first and foremost good thing that we can do is to give ourselves to Jesus.  Jesus, as well as the rest of Scripture is clear on the point that eternal life is determined by what we have done with Jesus.  Those who have given themselves to the truth of Jesus will in fact do good and be rewarded for the good they do.

 

We get into Heaven by our trust in Jesus.  We receive rewards after getting into Heaven for the good we do as seen in 1 Corinthians 3.  We arenít saved by good works, but we are rewarded for our good works done in faith, or by trusting Jesus.  Good works done in our own name and strength will not be rewarded for.  1 Thessalonians 4:17 states that at the second coming of Christ, some may view this as the rapture, there will be a trumpet sound and a shout.  Some believe the archangel will blow the trumpet and the shout will come from the mouth of Jesus.  

 

This section ends in verse 30 by Jesus saying that His judgment is just because He does nothing on His own, only that what He hears the Father telling Him.  He then says that His judgment is just because He does not seek His own will.  This is one of the characteristics we find in Jesus that should be found in us as well.  This is what true humility is all about, that is, we donít seek to please ourselves.  One large problem in the modern church is that too many of us seek to please ourselves.  Too often churches are built around a self seeking format where individuals promote their own agenda and ways of doing things without hearing from others or the Lord. 

 

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