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.