Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 24, 2016
Open your Bibles to John 6:22-40. If you recall, last week I gave you some homework. The homework was to saturate yourselves in John, chapter 6. The reason I asked you to do this was because in chapter 6 there are mentions of massive and glorious truths that are pillars that hold up your faith and your destiny. However, for many of you, you have never seen these truths before. Yes, perhaps you have read the Gospel of John before, but you have never stopped and pondered what you are actually reading. In addition, you, perhaps, have never attended a Church that truly taught the Bible. Instead your past Church experience has been full of quaint and superficial storytelling, not true Bible teaching.
Here at Cornerstone, we reject that approach. Our approach is a Biblical approach. Our approach is to preach and teach the Bible, week in and week out. Our desire is to create a people who are like the Psalmist in Psalm 119:15-16 who said, “I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. 16I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” This is what I want us to do in John 6, fix your eyes on God’s word, delight in what he says, and never forget these glorious truths. As I said last week, I want you to believe what you believe because it is what God has said, not because I have said. I want you to see and believe for yourself. I want you to wrestle with God in regards to some of these verses. The main reason, I am encouraging you to do this is because of the sermon I will preach next week.
Review of the Feeding of the 5,000
Before we read our text for today, I want to review what we covered last week. Last week we examined John 6:1-21. In those verses we saw the miracle of Jesus feeding a crowd that numbered 5,000 men, and is estimate to be somewhere up to 15,000 if you include women and children. The reason Jesus performed this miracle was because they were hungry and he had compassion on them. The way in which he fed this massive crowd was by taking five loaves of barely and two fish and multiplying them to the point that everyone was completely and utterly satisfied. There bellies were full. In fact, there were even left overs, 12 baskets of leftovers; one for each of his disciples. This God-like miracle of creating food out of no where caused the people to desire to make Jesus King of Israel by force. Jesus, knowing all things, perceived this and went up the mountain to be alone and sent his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee by themselves. While they were crossing the sea, Jesus came to them by walking on water, got into the boat with them, and they were immediately at the shoreline.
This miracle of multiplying the loaves of bread, as I stated last week, was for the primary purpose of setting the stage for some of the things that we are going to be unpacking today and the next couple of weeks. As we have seen, this is not uncommon for Jesus to do. He would commonly do a miracle to create a platform to preach a sermon. So with that said, let us look at scene 2 of John 6.
In Search of Jesus
I want you to put yourself in the shoes of these people. They had followed Jesus out into the middle of nowhere. They did this somewhat mindlessly. No one, except for one single boy had thought about bringing any food. Jesus came to the rescue and fed all of them by supernaturally creating food. They ate until their bellies were full. The show was over, they laid down to rest, and a short time later, morning arrived. And what do you do when you wake up? You start looking for breakfast. Your stomach starts to growl, you begin to crave food. However, for this crowd, they had a problem. They were still in the middle of nowhere, and now, they were without Jesus. So they had a choice to make, go and seek food, or go seek the one who creates food.
They pick the option 2 and go looking for Jesus. They put two and two together and said he must have somehow gotten to the other side, so off they went; thousands of people piling in boat after boat and crossing the Sea of Galilee seeking Jesus. And when they find him we are told in verse 59 that Jesus is in a Synagogue. Why is he at the Synagogue? Because he was looking for an audience to preach. Jesus says this in Luke 4:43 says, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
Look at verse 25, “when they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” In response to this question, Jesus could have said, I walked on water, but he didn’t. Why? Because the miracle of walking on water was not for the crowd, it was for the disciples. It was to increase his disciples faith, not the crowds. Instead Jesus wanted to talk about something else. He wanted to address their sin. So Jesus, as only Jesus does, completely ignores their question and goes straight to their problem. Verse 26, “Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.”
What drew these people to Jesus was not his glory, it was the grumbling in their stomachs. Jesus was not their greatest treasure, Jesus was their genie in a bottle. Jesus was merely a means to an end. These people desired a Jewish nanny state, with Jesus as their chief sandwich maker. And Jesus knew it. Remember in John 2:24 where it said, “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” Jesus knew exactly why the multitude had came to the synagogue, and he knows exactly why you have come to Church. He knows your motivations, whether they be good or bad. As I look out on each of you, I have no clue why you came to Cornerstone this morning, but Jesus does. You can't fool him. In fact, he knows why you are here better than you know why you are here.
Then Jesus says this in verse 27, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Gather has set His seal.”
Do Not Work for the Food that Perishes
And this is where I want to spend the rest of our time, in verse 27. First let us look at the first part, “Do not work for the food that perishes.” What is Jesus talking about? What Jesus is talking about is, in my opinion, the greatest problem that the visible Church in America is struggling with in this moment. And it may be the greatest problem the visible Church here at Cornerstone is struggling with in this moment.
It is the problem of worshiping the created things of this world and not worshiping the Creator. It is the problem is seeing this world as your eternal resting place, verses Heaven. It is the problem of selling your soul to gain the world. It is the problem of materialism.
Day in and day out, many of us spend of all our energy and all of our focus and all of our time on things that in 100 years or less won't exist. As Jesus says in Matthew 16:19 we are laying up treasures where moth and rust destroy. We have drank the poison of the American Dream, and it is foolish. If what we claim to believe is true, which it is, and we live forever, either in Hell or in Heaven, investing all of our time in the first 100 years of life is insanity.
This is why the Bible so frequently warns us to not pursue the food the perishes. One that rings in my ears this week is the parable Jesus taught in Luke 12:16-21.
This week I can't help but think of Prince who was found dead in an elevator in his $10 million estate. Prince spent his adult life pursuing the passions of his flesh, leveraging the sin of millions to make millions. The house/compound that he lived in was named Paisley Park. It totaled 55,000 square feet. It was massive. Truly a house for Prince. One quote from the Daily Mail said, “A virtual tour of the Paisley Park estate in Minnesota, released a couple of years ago to fans, showed the extravagant complex, where the 57-year-old was found unresponsive in an elevator on Thursday, in all its glory.” For 57 years Prince lived an luxurious life, there was nothing that he couldn't buy. For 57 years, he ate until he was full. Last Thursday, he left all that behind and stepped into eternity. That night his soul was required of him, and what did he have to give God, but the dust of this world and the sin of his heart.
The material of this world is the food that perishes. We were not created to worship bread, or bins, or compounds, or money, or gold, or your business, or your house, or your wardrobe. You were created for something far greater. Something that is infinitely more valuable. Something that will never rust or be destroyed. Something that will endure. You were made for Jesus.
Work for the Food that Endures
Verse 27, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him God the Gather has set His seal.” We were made to work for the food that endures. We are told in verse 29 that this work is believing in Jesus. “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
The food we are told to pursue is Jesus Christ. Verse 35, “I am the bread of life.” Verse 48, “I am the bread of life.” Verse 51, “I am the living bread.” This crowd has the same problem that the women at the well had in John 4. She could feel the void in her life and she spent her entire life working to fulfill this food through adulterous relationships. This group, instead of sex, they pursued the materialism of this world. The symptoms are different but the disease is the same.
The answer to our deepest desire is not more bread or more sex or more government or more money, it is more Jesus. Once again 750 years before Jesus walked this earth, the Prophet Isaiah proclaimed these words on behalf of God.
As Jesus stood before the great crowds he declared that this day has arrived. “Come...he who has no money, buy, eat!...delight...be satisfied...live.” This call that rang out 2700 years ago, rang out in the Synagogue of Capernaum, and still rings out today. Jesus, through the preaching of is eternal Words calls out to us to come and eat of the living bread of Christ, and find life in him. Lay down your perishing pursuits and grab hold of what your heart was created for. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Do not worship the God of your belly, but worship that God who holds together the World by the Word of his power.
We as a Church, must encourage this way of living. We must stop living in accordance to the World who uses God as a means to an end, instead we are called to live differently. We are called to be like the disciples who left their job and their family and their homes and followed Jesus, day after day. Why? Because as Peter says in John 6:68, ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Peter understood that pursuing bread makes absolutely no sense. They were in the presence of Jesus, they were welded to him, not living for this World, but preparing for the next.
He is No Fool
In the 1950's there was a small group of Christians who gave up the American Dream and obeyed the call of God and became missionaries to Auca Indians in Ecuador. Life for them was not easy. Week after week and month after month the labored to establish relationships with the locals. Finally in January of 1956 they were able to meet with some and start telling them about Christ. On January 8th, 1956 something went tragically wrong and five of the missionaries were speared to death. One of those men was Jim Elliot. He was 28 when he died. The death of Jim Elliot was not in the elevator in a lavish compound, it was in the jungles of Ecuador. His short life was not devoted to sex, money, or the American Dream. It was dedicated to Jesus Christ. He did not sell his soul to gain the world, he crucified the world and laid up treasures in heaven.
Before his death on October 28, Jim wrote these words in his journal, and I hope these words stick in your head for the rest of your life, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 17, 2016
Open your Bibles to John 6:1-20. The sixth chapter of John is the longest chapter in the New Testament. I am not sure how long we will spend in this chapter. Perhaps I will decide to break it into two sermons, perhaps three, perhaps four. We shall see.
One reason that I do not want to rush through this chapter is that, not only is it the longest, but it is earth-shattering in its doctrine. This chapter contains teachings of Jesus that may flip your entire theology on its head. It may completely reorient how you view the sovereignty of God in relation to your salvation. Therefore, over the next several weeks, I would encourage you to soak in John 6. Read it daily. Study it. Break it apart. Put it back together. Pray over it. Allow God’s Word to shape you.
We must remember that the Bible is 100% truth, inspired by God, inerrant and infallible. Therefore, when we see things that we don’t agree with, it is we who must change, not the immovable rock of God’s Word.
Now that I have all of you on the edge of your seat about chapter 6, today will be gentle, for today is somewhat like Chapter 5, for it is a miracle that is setting the stage for conversation that we will begin to unpack next week. Having said that, today is still fundamentally important and has deep application in itself. So with that said, let us read John 6:1-20 and see what God desire to reveal to us today.
We See Dimly
The title of my sermon today is “Seeing Christ Dimly.” I get that title from 1 Corinthians 13:12 which says, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” So what does that mean? It means this. Living is seeing. In this world there are people who are blind to reality. They are blind to purpose. They are blind to God. They are blind to Christ. The God of this world has blinded them to from seeing his eternal glory in the face of Jesus. If Christ is not the central reality of your life, then you are not living. I think this is why John says in John 1:4, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Seeing Christ as life is seeing. Before you saw that in Christ is life, you were blind, tripping through life in the darkness of this world. But when the Spirit of God blew into your life and birthed you by the power of his spirit, you could see Jesus as preeminent.
Having said that, you as a born again believer see, but you only see dimly. You have vision because you are born again but you do not have perfect vision. If you recall from last week Jesus said in John 5:19-20, “the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.” Jesus had perfect vision, this perfect vision translated to perfect obedience. We, even though we are born again, we are not perfect in our seeing, our knowledge. We see dimly. Therefore we are not perfectly obedient.
Today, our story, I believe, points to this reality, that no one on this side of death, sees Jesus perfectly. No matter if you are saved or unsaved, all of us fall short of Christ-like knowledge. However, that does not mean that we throw up our hands in frustration. No, instead we are to respond like Paul did in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
The Shadow of the Passover
So with that said, let us look at our text today. The backdrop of our text is found in verse 4, “Now the Passover, the feast of the jews, was at hand.” The reason that John tells us this is to make a connection to help us understand what Jesus is doing. So what is the Passover?
The Passover was the celebration of God leading his people out of captivity in Egypt so that they could be his covenant people and worship Him at Mount Sinai. As I have stated before, the Passover is, in a sense, like out 4th of July. It was there declaration of independence. For God did many signs and the final sign was the straw that broke the Pharaoh’s back. For after God sent the Angel of Death who passed over those who had the blood of the Lamb painted on their doorposts, the birth of a nation occurred. And a multitude of Jews were released from Eygytian oppression and crossed the Red Sea and into the Wilderness where they wandered for 40 years.
And while the Israelites wandered around for 40 years God provided them with a food called manna. This manna would appear each morning like a thick dew on the ground, and the Israelites would go out and pick it up. But they could only pick up enough for each day, except for the Fridays when God would allows them to pick up two days worth of manna so that they could avoid working on Saturday, the Sabbath. It was through the provision of this bread like food, manna, that God sustained the Isralites until they reached the promised land.
This is what the Passover feast celebrated, and this was what John and God wants to be on your mind when reading the events in John 6. For once we think about the Passover and the events of John 6, we can easily see the correlation. First, we see in verse 1 that Jesus is on the other side of the Sea. Second, we see in verse 2 that a large crowd is coming out to be with him because of the signs they saw him do. Third, we see in verse 3 that he is located on a mountain. And fourth, and most obvious we see Jesus supplying bread to those who have none. This correlation is not accidental, this is how God tells his story. The Old Testament creates shell of the the categories, and when Christ comes he fills in the substance.
This story of Jesus feeding this large crowd is the only miracle, besides the resurrection of Christ, that is in all four Gospels. Why? One answer is because God wanted it that way. But the second answer is perhaps because of this miracle's utter Godness. In this miracles Jesus is creating matter before their eyes. Sure, he started with five barley loaves, but with each break of the bread matter was coming into existence. And this Ex Nilo, out of nothing, miracle was the greatest public display of the miracles that Jesus performed. Many times, the miracles of Jesus were intimate, one on one, personal. This miracle was performed for thousands. Our text today says 5,000 men. In Matthew 14:21 it says, “And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” Therefore it is estimated that the number of the large crowd as between 15,000-20,000 people. Therefore the crowd would have been 6-8 times larger than the town of Cascade. It is safe to say that Jesus's ministry was very public. Which, once again bolsters the truthfulness of these events. Not only do we have four historical writings confirming this miracle, but when each of these Gospels were written there would have been many eye witnesses of this event who would still had been alive. For Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to make up such a sensational story and then claim that 15,000 people were eyewitnesses only makes sense if it truly happened.
Blindness of the World
Now the first thing I want to draw out attention to is the response of he crowd after the performance of this miracle. Look at verse 14, “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” What does it mean “this is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the World.” This thought by the crowd is a reference back to Deuteronomy 18:15 where Moses tells the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—“ For centuries, the Jews had been told to look for this prophet. They were primed for this prophet and upon seeing this amazing miracle, they made the connection that this must be him, the prophet.
And you know what? They were right. Jesus is the prophet that Moses was referring to. He is the prophet that the world is to listen to. In fact, at the Mountain of Transfiguration God himself said this, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
Now the problem with the large crowd and their understanding of Jesus as the prophet is the same problem the Israelites had in 1 Samuel 8:19-20. The Isrealites during the time of 1 Samuel did not have a King, God was their King. Every other nation that surrounded them had a King except them, and they wanted to be just like the World. The prophet Samuel warned them about having a King and we are told in verse 1 Samuel 8:19-20, “But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
1000 years later, the Israelites of Jesus's day were just like their stiff-necked forefathers. Blinded by the ways of this world, and failing to see the greater reality of what God was doing. We can tell by Jesus's reaction that he was not on board with their plan to make him king. Verse 15, “Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.” Jesus did not desire to be King on their terms, his desire was to be King on His Father's terms. The large crowd was focused on the things of this world, where moth and rust destroy. They were concerned about political positions, economic freedom, national security, liberty from Roman oppression. They were seeking heaven on earth.
And I can't help wonder how many people today fall into this short sided, and distorted category, seeing Jesus merely as a political figure. I would perhaps put the King and County type people in this category. People who use Jesus for political positions. Desiring that Jesus to have a seat at the desk of the oval office, but caring less if he comes and sits at the table of your heart. This view of Jesus is not a Biblical one. Jesus says very clearly to Pontius Pilate hours before his death, in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world.” If you are waiting for Jesus to Make America Great again, then I am sorry to tell you, it ain't happening. It may have sounded poetic in 1961 when John F Kennedy said it and 1980 when Ronald Reagan said it, but America is not the shining City upon a Hill. This designation is reserved for God's chosen people, not from one nation, but from every nation. The crowds were blind to eternal realities, they were blind to who Jesus was and they were blind to why he came.
Seeing Christ Dimly
Which leads us to the second group that witnessed this miracle, the chosen 12. in reality, this massive miracle displayed before 15,000 people wasn't for them, it was for the 12 disciples. You can see evidence of this in verse 5, “Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” 6He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.” Jesus knew how this was going to play out. In fact, as I said earlier this miracle was to set the stage for the next day's conversation. A conversation that was for those who had ears to hear, not the deaf.
The question posed to Philip, and all of the disciples by implication, was to expose their lack of site. The disciples had been with Jesus for quite some time by now. They had seen the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute speak, and water turning into wine. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah, but when asked a simple question, they failed as miserably as the unconverted. Philip and Andrews response was worldly. They set their eyes upon the mountain, forgetting who was testing them. In summary, the disciples failed the test.
Jesus, being the patience and the graced filled Christ that he is, does not rebuke their lack of sight, but shows them instead, by taking the God ordained circumstances of the moment and putting them in the hands of Christ. I can't help but wonder what Philip and Andrew were thinking when they watched as Jesus took over the situation and saved the day.
Now what is important to understand at this moment is what the symbolism of the bread is. In John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.” So the bread that Jesus is distributing is symbolic. It is a symbol of Christ. And we are told in verse 12-13, “And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.” Jesus intentionally provided more than the bare minimum. Why? Because if the bread is symbolic, pointing to Jesus, then the abundance is also symbolic. Jesus is providing a picture that he is all satisfying. He is demonstrating that he is all sufficient. That Jesus has more than enough grace to fill you up, not matter how far you are away from home. This teaching is very similar to what Jesus told the women at the well in John 4:14, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.” Now Jesus is not telling just one Samaritan women, he is proclaiming the reality to 15,000 jews.
Having said that, what I find interesting is not only is everyone satisfied with what Christ provides, but that there is left overs. How much? 12 baskets. Why twelve? I think the answer is found at the end of Chapter 6.
At the end of chapter 6 the large crowds had left Jesus because he didn't play their political game, and he turns to his disciples and asks if they are going to leave Him too, and Peter says in verse 68, “ “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve?”
I believe the 12 baskets coincides with the 12 disciples. I believe that the picture that Jesus wants to create is that not only does he satisfy, but that for each of his chosen, he has a storehouse of his grace that he is assigned to each of his children.
And here is another reason I believe this. After these events, Jesus leaves the twelve and ascends up the mountain. As night comes, the disciples depart without Jesus. Perhaps with the 12 baskets. Their journey is one that pushes them out into the darkness of the sea. Wind is blowing and waves are crashing and it is not easy. They row, they labor, for 3.5 miles. It is not easy, but off in a distance they see Christ. He cries out to them to let them know that they are not alone. And as they hit the shoreline of their destination, they are reunited with Christ. In between the intial giving of the bread and the shoreline, what do they have? The bread that Christ provided.
I cannot think of a better picture of the Christian walk then this. For when we come to Christ we are given the bread of life that satisfies our soul. From the moment we taste and see that the Lord is good, he feeds us with his constant Spirit. However, in this life he is with us and not with us. He is with us in the provisions of his grace in the deposit of his Spirit, but he has also ascended and sits at the right hand of the father. We continue in our life, moving across the waters of this dark world, laboring, while the wind blows and the waves crashing against the boat of our life. But we must remember, that we are not alone. Christ is always with us, even if we see him dimly across the bow of our lives. And we must remember that someday as we reach the shoreline of Heaven, we will not longer see him dimly, but we will see him face to face as he gets into the boat and we reach our final destination.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 10, 2016
Open your Bibles to John 5:18-29. Last week we examined John 5:1-18, and I stated that the events contained in those verses led into a conversation that Jesus desired to have about who he is.
If you recall from last week, Jesus was in Jerusalem for a feast, a celebration. While at the feast he went to the pool of Bethesda. This pool was surrounded by a multitude of invalids. The reason these invalids were there was because they had wrongly believed this pool had special powers for healing. Jesus walked through the crowd and picked out one man who had been an invalid for 38 years and healed him.
This healing took place on the Sabbath, which is a big no, no for the Jewish leaders. For the Sabbath was to be a day of rest. Their hearts were so hard that they did not want any work being done on the Sabbath including healing people. Jesus was not naïve to their views of the Sabbath. Like I said, his desire was to have a conversation about who he was. And Jesus was going to use the hardness of their heart as a platform to reveal his glory. And in verse 17 Jesus said the explosively true words of “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” And now let us pick up this morning in verse 18.
Equality with God
We have touched on this before, but it never hurts to touch on it again. In this world people like to say that Jesus was a good teacher, a good person, a revolutionary, or a prophet. Was Jesus those things? Absolutely! However, if someone only believes those things and does not believe that Jesus is God, then that person is bound for Hell. Why? Because the essence of believing in Jesus, is believing in who He is, and who he is, is nothing short of God.
And this reality that Jesus was God incarnate, is not something he ran from, but it was something he ran to. The attributes of his Godness is something he proclaimed regularly and displayed always. And everyone who was within ear shot knew exactly what he was talking about. In our text today, verse 18 it says, “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” When Jesus spoke, their was no mistake what he was claiming, he claimed his deity.
What is interesting is Jesus's response to their offendedness. Jesus does not say, “Hold on. I am not God, I am just a prophet.” or “I am just a teacher.” or “I am just a revolutionary.” Look at verse 19, what does it say? “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you” Jesus did not deny or correct their understanding of his Godness, but instead he says to them in response “truly, truly, I say to you.” Jesus emphatically embraces their conclusion. When Jesus says, “truly, truly” he is saying that what he is about to say is absolute, 100% truth. He is emphasizing the certainty that is about to come out of his mouth. And this certainty is that Jesus is God.
And we need to be clear about this. Jesus declared he was God. He has left no room for sitting the fence. As C.S. Lewis has said, and we have often repeated, Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or he is Lord. You are being intellectually dishonest if you say Jesus was a good teacher, but not God. You are being intellectually dishonest if you say he is a prophet, but not God.
So how is Jesus equal to God? In our text today, Jesus provides three descriptions of how he is equal to God and one conclusion.
Equal in Work
The first one is Jesus is equal to God in his work. Verse 19, “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.”
In this statement we see Jesus pointing to his perfect unity with His Father. “The Son can do nothing of his own accord.” Jesus is totally and completely in sync with the Father. His existence as the Son of God is interdependent upon the actions of the Father. Jesus is the display of God's will. Previously in John 1:18 it says, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side,f he has made him known.” In Hebrews 1:3 says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” And it is because of this revelation that is the exact imprint that later in John 14:9 Jesus says these words to Philip, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” How can this be? Because Jesus is the perfect manifestation of the will of God.
Now for this to occur, this means that Jesus has perfect and complete revelation of God's providence. And Jesus speaks of this in verse 19, “What he sees the Father doing.” And then again in verse 20, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.” God doesn't just show some of what he is doing but all that he is doing. Jesus has the perfect vision of God. Every moment, every event, every situation in all of history is perfectly seen by Jesus. Jesus had the eyes of the eternal God. This is one reason we can confidently say that every action of Jesus is calculated and deliberate, for Jesus does absolutely everything in accordance to God's perfect and complete providence.
In addition to Jesus perfectly seeing the providence of God, Jesus can also perfectly mimic God. Again in verse 19, “For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.” There is nothing that God can do, that Jesus can't do. Whatever God does, Jesus can do. It is the like the eternal battle of the banjos. Whatever God plays, Jesus has the ability within himself to play it right back with absolute precision. And what God can do is limitless. In Job 9:10 Job says that God “does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number.” If that is true for God, it is true for Jesus. God can exist for all time. Jesus can exist for all time. God can create. Jesus can create. God knows all things. Jesus knows all things. Whatever God can do, Jesus can do. Jesus is equal to God in his work.
Equal in Judgment
The second way that Jesus is equal to God is in his judgment. Verse 22, “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son: Then again in verse 27, “And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” This is something that our culture can relate to. People are always saying, “Don't judge me.” This statement usually comes from a sinful, and misguided heart, but they are on to something, specifically the understanding that only God has the right, the authority to determine what is right and wrong, to determine guilt and innocence. Psalm 75:7 says, “But it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.” But once again, Jesus says, he has that authority. SO next time someone says, “Don't judge me.” You can say, “I won't. But Jesus will someday, and Jesus sees everything that you are doing and knows everything you are thinking, so if I were you I would reconsider your actions.”
Why does Jesus have this authority? Our text says because the father has given it to him, and because he is the Son of Man? What does this mean? The phrase “Son of Man” is a very significant title. It finds its roots in Daniel 7:13. Once again, we have examined this once before, but it bears repeating in the context of John 5. Daniel was a prophet who lived 600 years before Jesus and in Daniel 7:13 Daniel says, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” Jesus is this Son of Man in the vision of Daniel. He is the one who has been given dominion, a kingdom. He is the one whom everyone is required to serve him. This is the way in which God designed creation. That every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess Jesus Christ is Lord.
Jesus speaks of this judging authority in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Every single person who has ever existed will stand before Jesus in judgment. All religions, all nationalities, all races, male and female, rich and poor, young and old will present themselves to Jesus: the Pharisees, the disciples, Pontius Pilate, Napolean, Hilter, George Washington, the Beatles, John MacArthur, Kayne West, and Phil Parsons. Every single one of us will stand before Jesus of Nazareth and be judged by Him. And the way in which we will be called is by the sound of His voice. Verse 28, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out.” To be honest, it is difficult not to marvel. For there will come a moment when Jesus cries out across the world, “Come forth!” And 100,000 billion people will simultaneously obey without hesitation.
This moment, this hour, of judgment is called the Great and Awesome Day of the Lord. And it will be the weightiest moment of all time. For when Christ calls on the final day, time is up. There is no purgatory, there is no second chance, this is it. Verse 29 says, “those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
So what must we do to prepare for that day? Jesus tells us that we must do good. But here is the problem. Jesus also tells us Mark 10:18, “No one is good except God alone.” Earlier, John put it this way in John 3:19, “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” If we are evil, and we love the darkness, and no one does good, what hope do we have?
Equal in Giving Life
This leads us to the third way that Jesus is equal with God, Jesus is equal in giving life. Verse 21, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” Again in verse 26, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” Once again, this is not the first time we have seen this truth proclaimed in the Gospel of John. John 1:4, “In him was life,a and the life was the light of men.”
The giving of life is a gift that is reserved to God. God is the one we see in Genesis 2 breathing life into Adam. And yet today we see Jesus saying that he has been given the gift of life. And it should be noted that he is not just a conduit of life, but that Jesus has this life in himself. It is a power of Christ that resides in his being. Peter reiterates this reality in in Acts 3:15, perhaps even to the same people that Jesus is speaking to in John 5. He says, “you killed the Author of life.“ But how does Jesus having life in himself help us?
Verse 21, “the Son gives life to whom he will.” Jesus does not hoard this life, he gives this life. And this action of giving is governed his own sovereign will. If you recall, the conversation that Jesus is now having began because Jesus walked through a multitude of invalids and picked out one man. Only one, and chose to give him a new life. As we saw last week, this invalid man had no capacity to pick up his mat and walk. Only Jesus could provide this strength. Likewise, we saw this man had no clue who Jesus was, and therefore had zero faith in him. Yet, when Jesus commanded him to get up and walk, what did he do? He obeyed the voice of the Son of God. No hesitation. Why? The answer lies in verse 25, “truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”
If you recall, earlier I said that on the Great and Awesome Day of the Lord, the day of judgment, Jesus will call out, “Come forth!” And everyone will obey. Every single person will hear his voice and come. However, some of those who come forth on that day, have already, prior to that day, heard the voice of Jesus and come. This is what Jesus is saying when he says, “the hour is coming, and is now hear.” The invalid who is healed by the pool of Bethesda is a picture of the greater spiritual reality of the effective call of the Word of Christ. The effective call of the Gospel.
Verse 24 says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” Verse 24 is describing the “and is now here” moment in history. It is the age that we find ourselves in today. It is the age of the last days, that Jesus cries out, “Come forth! Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden. Come all you are thirsty. Come those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Come you sinner.”
The question is not if you will hear the voice of Christ say “Come forth” the question is when. Will you hear the voice of Jesus now, or when it is too late? Will you awaken to the reality that Jesus is God? Will you awake to the reality that Jesus is the Son of Man described in Daniel and therefore we should turn from the darkness, repent of our evil and serve Him in His Kingdom for His glory? If you have ears to hear, then hear and come out of your spiritual death and pass from judgment to eternal life.
Therefore, Equal in Honor
As I said at the beginning, Jesus gives several reasons why he is equal with God, he is equal in work, he is equal in judgment, he is equal in the giving of life. So what must be our conclusion? Our conclusion should be that he is therefore, equal in honor. And we see this in verse 23, “that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” If Christ is God, then there is only one response, worship Him. If Christ is God he deserves all of our devotion and service. If Christ is God, then we must pick up our cross and follow him. If Christ is God, then we must center our life upon him. If Jesus is God we must renounce all that we have and cling to the tassel of his rob. Failure to do so, is a failure to live, and it is deserves an resurrection unto judgment.
At this time, I want to invite the praise team up to sing a closing song. As they come up I want to encourage some of your to think about your life. Are you honoring Christ? Is he your center? Is he your God? If not, pray that Christ would call you to come home.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 3, 2016
Open your Bibles to John 5:1-18. Today we return to the book of John and continue the study of this wonderful and amazingly rich Gospel. As always, we have a lot to get through, so lets jump right in.
Beginning with the End
This morning we will begin at the end; which can be a beneficial technique to better see what God is revealing in His Word. The reason for this is that if you can see where He is going; you can better trace His steps. This is very similar to a map, you find your location and your destination and you can better the find the individual roads that get you to where you need to be. Verse 18 it says, “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”
Jesus, through the series of events that we are going to examine today, desired for the Jews to come face to face with the Trinity. He wanted to create a platform that he could use to reveal to those who had ears to hear the mystery of Elohiym.
Elohiym was the most common way in Hebrew to refer to God. It is used over 2000 times to refer to God; however the word itself is plural. Therefore the word that God has chosen to predominately describe himself in the scripture has a plural form. Having said that, God made it very clear in passages like Deuteronomy 6:4, ““Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
The Jews, ignored the plurality of Elohiym, and embraced singularity of “The Lord is One.” And Jesus wants to have a conversation about that. He wants to put his finger right on that point. And John, the author of this Gospel, has already broached this topic in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
So that is our destination and we will unpack a lot of it next week, that Jesus is equal to God. Today, however, we will examine the journey of how Jesus gets to that conversation.
A Multitude of Invalids
Now turn your attention to verse 1, “After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” What does that mean, feast of the Jews? They feast of the Jews were religious celebrations. The Jewish religion had a number of them. However, there were three feasts, or celebrations, that required attendance by male Jews: the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of the Tabernacles. It is possible that it was one of these three feasts for the feast is the reason why Jesus was in Jerusalem, but no one is for sure.
Now if you recall, the last time Jesus showed up in Jerusalem, things got a little out of hand. Previously in John 2 we read about Jesus going to the Temple and flipping tables and driving out the animals with a whip. Then when asked under what authority he does these things. Jesus then gives them three pillars of his authority. First of all, that the Temple is his dad’s house. Second, that temple is all about him. Third, his future resurrection and conquering of sin and death will be the display of his authority over all things and all man. So the last time Jesus was in Jerusalem, he kind of made a statement.
So what does he do this time? He does not go to the Temple, which would have been a place of celebration and rejoicing, but instead he goes to the Pool of Bethesda, a place of sorrow and brokenness. This pool would have been the complete opposite of a festival. In verse 3 it says that around this pool there lay a multitude of invalids. A multitude. How many we cannot be sure, but make no mistake it is more than most of us have ever seen in our lifetime, let alone at one time. Blind, lame, paralyzed, if you can imagine it, most likely it was there. There is no doubt that it would have been the saddest places you could be in Jerusalem.
Why were the multitude of invalids there? Superstition. You can see this superstition in verse 7, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Now, what is this man talking about? The answer lies in a verse that does not exist. If you notice, in most of your translations verse 4 is not there. It goes from verse 3 to verse 5. If you have the King James or the NASB, you will have verse 4 which says, “for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.” If you have the NLT, NIV, or ESV verse 4 is taken out. Why? Because verse 4 is not in the earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of John.
So what happened? Most likely verse 4 started out as a note in the margin, and as people copied the Gospel of John it worked itself into text. It would be like your ESV study notes being interwoven into the text. What is important for us to understand is that the presence or absence of verse 4 does not change anything. Verse 4 is true, but is just not the inspired Word of God.
Therefore, the reason there was a multitude of brokenness around this body of water is that these people had been deceived into believing a Jewish myth. Therefore, not only does our heart break for their condition, but they have been tricked into believing a false hope.
Unfortunately, this deception is not limited to Jewish feasts 2000 years ago. It is alive and well today. Many people today have been duped into believing a false spirituality. In fact, as Biblical knowledge decreases, spiritual deception increases. These deceptions can come through the idea of “holy water”, traveling healers, rosaries, or burying a figurine of some dead saint in your backyard. All those things are hopeless, and we are warned to beware of those superstitions in Titus 1:14, 1 Timothy 1:4, 2 Timothy 4:4. Our hope does not lie in anything that is made, our hope lies in the one who makes everything.
Which leads us to verse 5, “ One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”
Picture Jesus, the Son of God, in the midst of a multitude of invalids crowding around this Pool named Bethesda, which by the way means “House of Mercy”. He walks through the crowds and finds one man. One...out of a multitude. Remember, this is Jesus who we are told is full of truth and grace, and he passes up hundreds, maybe thousands of people and goes after this one man. Does this seem odd? If you don't know Jesus this may seem odd, but if you have read the gospel's even once you would not even hesitate at this reality. For Jesus regularly went after just one individual, just after one sheep. Remember what we just discussed in John 4. He had a date with destiny at the well of Jacob, and it was not a date with thousands, it was a date with one alienated, sinful, Samaritan women. The life of Jesus is one of patterns, and one predominate pattern is a personal relationship. Whether it is calling his disciples, a conversation with Nicodemus, the Samaritan Women, healing an officer's son, or an invalid Jesus came for individuals. Our God is not an impersonal God of the masses, he is a God who has set his eternal love on his elect and pursues them wherever they may be found.
This leads us to the question, why this man? Why not someone else? What is so special about him? The only thing we are told about this specific invalid is that he was an invalid for 38 years. This is my life span, for I will be 38 in September. My guess is that if I was bedridden for 38 years my life would be drastically different. For this man it would have been 38 years of no walking, no running, no playing, no working. Thirty-eight years of being at the mercy of whomever may have pity on him to help him out, which according to him was no one. 38 years of laying down and watching the world pass you by.
What is interesting about this encounter with Jesus is that this man has no clue who he is. He doesn't cry out behold the Lamb of God, or Son of David have mercy on me. This guy is totally oblivious to who he is speaking to. In fact, for a short time, this is even true after he is healed. Look at verse 12, “They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.”
This story causes some of you to have a problem with your theology. For you believe that the blessings of God are dependent on faith. You think faith comes before the work of God and not after. This story totally blows the door off of that way of thinking, because this man had zero faith in Jesus, yet Jesus chose him out of the masses to receive mercy. This man's faith would have flowed from God's Grace.
So what does this tell us? It tells us that Jesus is sovereign in his dispensation of mercy. There is no outward influence or force dictating whom he loves, when he loves, or how he loves. The gift that Jesus bestows upon this man are not dependent on this man, or any other man. The gift of the grace of God is dependent only upon God. Jesus is completely free. This event is a display of what God told Moses in Exodus 33:19 and is repeated in Romans 9:15, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
This is the only way to explain this event in John 5. Why did this man receive the mercy of Christ? Because Christ will have mercy on whom he has mercy. There is no more to it then that.
And for this man, he would not want it any other way. For if the mercy of Christ was dependent upon him, his righteousness, his faith, then he would have no hope. For he failed miserably. No, the only way this man could overcome the depravity of his physical condition is by the Sovereign mercy of Jesus.
And we likewise would not want it any other way, for if the mercy of God is dependent upon man, then we likewise have no hope. For we are spiritual invalids totally unable to lift ourselves off the mat of our sin to receive the mercy of God.
Ephesians 2:5 says that we are “dead in our trespasses” Dead people can't save themselves. Romans 3:11 says “no one seeks God.” Romans 8:7 says we are hostile to God and we are unable to submit to him. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tell us that in our flesh, or natural ability, have no power to understand the spiritual things of God. We are just like the invalid wasting our days hanging out by the pool, clueless to who Jesus is, until he comes and finds us and pours out his mercy upon us. Then everything changes.
In fact, in John 5, Jesus is living out what we read about in John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” To the invalid, he did not see Jesus coming, nor did he see him leave, but there was no doubt that he had an encounter with him. How do we know? He could walk! He was living out the miracle of an encounter with Jesus, the Son of God.
Sin No More
But this was not the end of the story, far from it in fact. This is just the beginning. Verse 14, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” For Jesus the end goal was not for this man to just walk, but to walk with the Lord. Jesus did not come to the earth to primarily heal people, or primarily to show mercy, or primarily perform miracles. Did you do those things? Absolutely. However, he came to primarily deal with sin.
Jesus commanded this man to pick up his mat and walk, and now he was commanding him to lift up his eyes and walk with the Lord. And this is what is amazing, by the same power that caused this man to walk, will cause this man to walk with the Lord. The power of Christ.
This man was healed, not only on the outside, but also on the inside. Christ first loved him, and now he had the power to love Christ. He was not only changed by grace, but he will stand in grace. And this is the story of all of us who have been made well by the mercy of Christ. When the grace of Christ has been poured out upon you, you now, for the first time have the ability to live a life according to God's will. Perhaps the verses that best sum this up is Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
If you have been made alive through the power of Christ, then you are a new creation. You are called to walk in the ways of God, not sit by the cesspool of your past sin. If you claim to have met Christ, and you continue in your sinful ways, then you have not met Christ, you have not been created in Christ Jesus. And if you have not received the grace of Christ, then being an invalid for 38 years does not compare to the what is in store for you. For your future is not languishing by the pool of Bethsada, but swimming in the lake of fire.
So how should we wrap up today's message? In this world, there is only one hope, it is not found in myths or bandwagon spirituality, it is only found in Jesus Christ. For some of you, perhaps today is the day he has chosen to meet with you in the midst of your despair. If it is, obey the Word of Christ and pick up your mat and follow him. For all of you who have already done this, do not boast in the workmanship of Christ, for it is by grace you have been saved. Instead of boasting, go and sin no more, for we have work to do, prepared for us before the foundation of the World.