Jesus’ Seven Discourses in John (3)

john5_19-40-authority-of-jesus

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

As Jesus returned to Jerusalem for the celebration of Purim,[1] Chapter Five opens with the account of the invalid by the Pool of Bethesda who Jesus healed. The healing once again stirred up the “Jews” who concerned themselves more with His breaking of the of the Sabbath than with the man’s welfare. The miraculous healing of the lifelong invalid demonstrated Jesus’ divine nature, and “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5). “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day” (John 5:16). Unwilling to let an opportunity slip away, Jesus took time to instruct them on the source of His authority.

“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19, emphasis mine).Christians often get accused of believing in three gods because we hold a Trinitarian view of God stating that we believe in One God manifested in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God’s triune nature challenges the limits of our finite minds, and no definition devised by man can fully describe that nature. A weak comparison might be made from the nature of man considering that man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Like God, man possesses a triune nature composed of mind, body, spirit. The mind controls man’s activities. The body carries out the mind’s commands, and the spirit energizes and motivates man’s activities. Although often thought of as separate entities, the mind, body, and spirit must exist in unison for man to exist.

Knowing that Jesus, the Son, is fully God in every way, His statement sounds strange to our ears. He seems to say that the Father is a different person, separate and apart from Him. After all, when describing our own actions, we would not say something like, “the body can do nothing of itself but what it sees the mind do,” even though, in a certain sense, that is an accurate description of all our actions (unless we have some sort of neurological disorder that causes our body to act contrary to the mind’s control).

However, Jesus’ explanation required a third person description because to the Jews, God was wholly spirit and transcendent. They could not conceive of God in human form or that God could have a human “son” – a confusion that continues on to this day. “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18, emphasis mine). The Father, like our mind, determines what actions He wants to carry out, and the Son, like our body, carries out the will of the Father.“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30, emphasis mine).“The conclusion from our Lord’s argument is: If I have broken the Sabbath, so has God also; for I can do nothing but what I see him doing. He is ever governing and preserving; I am ever employed in saving.”[2]

Additionally, life comes from God. “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will” (John 5:21). The word “quicken” is an archaic English word meaning, “to make alive.” The O.T. records at least two instances in which the Father raised the dead: the widow’s son through Elijah (1 Kings 22:17) and the Shunamite’s son through Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-35). The Son also raised the dead: the ruler’s daughter (Mark 5:35-42), the widow’s son at Nain (Luke 7:11-15), and Lazarus, at Bethany (John 11:14-44).“Here our Lord points out his sovereign power and independence; he gives life according to his own will – not being obliged to supplicate for the power by which it was done, as the prophets did; his own will being absolute and sufficient in every case.”[3] Jesus maintains this authority for all time. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29, emphasis mine). Jesus’ promise was meant for the near and distant future. “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:52-53, emphasis mine). There is still a time yet to come. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine).

There is yet one final resurrection. You do not want to be part of that resurrection. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [i.e. the grave] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:12-13, emphasis mine). Jesus, as God, has the power to give eternal life, but you obtain it in this life.

Jesus judges based on how man treats Him. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:22-23, emphasis mine). What we do with Jesus in this life determines the outcome of our eternal life. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man” (John 5:26-27, emphasis mine). God put on human flesh (John 1:14) so that man could relate to Him. “He is the Son of man.” “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [i.e. explained, demonstrated, exegeted]him” to us (John 1:18, emphasis mine). We cannot know God the Father better than how we know God the Son. Therefore, when we reject the Son, we reject the Father; consequently, we reject eternal life.

Jesus now gets to the heart of the matter. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live”  (John 5:24-25, emphasis mine). The “dead” Jesus refers to here are those who are “dead in their sins.” “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened [i.e. made alive] us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:5)

The Jews needed proof.“By what authority doest thou these things?and who gave thee this authority?” (Matthew 21:23).  They may not have verbalized those sentiments at this time, but they must have been thinking them. “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true” (John 5:31-32,). The law required the testimony of at least two witnesses to prove a matter (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15).  Jesus offered up John the Baptist as a witness, but the Jews rejected John’s message (John 5:33-35). Even so, Jesus offered a greater witness – His own works. “But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (John 5:36, emphasis mine). In addition, the Father bore witness of Him through the works that He performed (John 5:37-38). Nicodemus attested to this: “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2, emphasis mine). Furthermore, the Scriptures testified concerning Him. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39, emphasis mine).

What more proof is needed? Jesus is Lord over the Sabbath. Jesus is Lord over Creation. He is the Lord and giver of life. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20, emphasis mine). Creation itself gives sufficient testimony to remove any excuse not to believe; but God provided a greater witness through the Son of God, Son of Man Who, if rejected,will judge the unbeliever guilty without excuse.

Notes:


[1]  “Jesus Seven Signs in John (3)” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/11/06/jesus-seven-signs-in-john-3/

[2]Adam Clark’s Commentary on the Bible Note on John 5:19.

[3]Ibid, on John 5:21.

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