John 5:15-16 says, "The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus, who had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath day." When verse 16 says that the Jews persecuted Jesus, it means that they pursued Him: they went after Him: it became their goal to get Jesus. They recognized immediately that the freedom in the teachings of Jesus was a threat to the current social order. The religion of the Jews in that day had a firm hold on society. There was a vast array of restrictions, rules, and regulations that were enforced by the Jewish religious leaders upon the people. It did not matter to the Jews that the man was healed, because they did not really care about him or anyone else. It did not matter to the Jews that Jesus had the divine power to heal, because they were no longer interested in truth or in becoming closer to God. They did not want to hear anything that rocked the boat or that threatened their power in the society: even if it was true. They were motivated by fear and deceit and the desire for power at all cost. They viewed Jesus as a threat and as a competitor. This is another example where competition was negative: it turned them into murderers, and not just murderers, but murderers of the Christ of God.
John 5:17-18 says, "But Jesus answered them, My Father worked until now, and I work. 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." When Jesus said, "My Father worked until now, and I work," He was saying that He and the Father did the same works: He was describing the unique unity between Himself and God the Father, a unity that no one else has ever had or ever will have, because Jesus was the divine Son of God. When Jesus called God, "my Father," the Jews who heard Him knew what He was saying: they knew that He was saying more than what we mean when we call God our Father. There was no misunderstanding. They knew that He was making Himself equal with God, and they became even more determined to kill Him, because He was even a greater threat to their power in the Jewish society. If people believed that He was the Son of God, then He would be the authority that people would listen to and not them.
Remember that we are still in the first year of the work of Jesus. That means that He made it very clear early on who He was. It was very clear to the Jewish leaders, and it was very clear to the populace who Jesus was claiming to be: the Messiah, the divine Son of God who was equal with God. John 5:19-23 says, "Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do: for what things soever He does, these also do the Son. For the Father loves the Son, and shows the Son all things that He does: and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises up the dead, and gives them life; even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honors not the Son, honors not the Father who has sent Him." In order to emphasize His unity with the Father, Jesus listed some things to describe their unity. They share the attribute of omnipotence: thatís what Jesus was referring to when He said that He and the Father did the same works, and that the people would yet see even greater works from Jesus. The name that is used here for God, the Father, speaks of the life-giving nature of God. All life comes from God: there could be no life without God. If you see something that lives, then you know that it is God who gave it life. Scientists can study a one-celled animal, and they can put all the elements that make up that creature into a test tube, but they cannot make life because life comes from the Father. And if God is a life-giver, then Jesus is also a life-giver because He is equal with God. Thatís why Jesus raised people from the dead and why He rose from the dead: to prove His life-giving divine power. Because Jesus is the life-giver, He has the authority to give eternal life to whomever He will. And we know that He will give eternal life to whoever believes in His name.
When many people think of God the Father, they think of the final judge of the earth. There is justice for all, because God is over all and no one shall escape His justice. But this passage makes it very clear that when people are judged by God, they will be judged by Jesus because all judgment has been committed unto the Son. Jesus gave a clear warning about judgment to come, but He also gave an escape. Even to those who hated Him, Jesus told them how they could avoid judgment and find eternal life. John 5:24 says, "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that hears my word, and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
When Jesus said, "he that hears my word," he meant he that hears with understanding. Those that belong to God understand Godís word: they receive it, they hear it. Those that do not belong to God do not understand Godís word: they do not receive it and they do not hear it. The word of God is spiritual, and it can only be understood with the help of the Spirit of God. There is a direct relationship between hearing the Word and believing. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." "How shall they believe except they hear, and how shall they hear except someone tell them the gospel?"
The only way to avoid condemnation when you get to the judgment is to have the kind of belief that Jesus was talking about. If you have this kind of belief, then you will not only have the future benefit of the good thing that will happen to you at the judgment, but you also will have an immediate benefit: the moment that you believe, you immediately pass from death to life. Jesus said that he that believes shall not come into judgment: thatís future. And Jesus said that such a person "is passed from death unto life": thatís the present. Anyone who does not believe in Jesus is spiritually dead: they do not understand Godís word, they do not experience the privilege of trusting in God each day, and a horrible future at the judgment awaits them unless they repent before itís too late.
In John 5:25-27 Jesus said, "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. For as the Father has life in Himself; so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself; And has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man."
Jesus has power to give life to the dead. In John Chapter 11 we will find Jesus standing at the grave of Lazarus and Jesus will speak and say, "Lazarus, come forth," and Lazarus rises from the dead. And Jesus Himself rises from the dead after being delivered through the treachery of the religious leaders. Lazarus was not the only person that Jesus raised from the dead during His public ministry: there were others. There were at least three reasons that Jesus performed the miracle of raising people from the dead. One reason was to show compassion for those who were grieving for their lost loved ones. God feels our pain when we are separated from those that we love through death: but He has a plan to reunite us: thatís one of the hopes that the resurrection gives us. Another reason that Jesus raised people from the dead was to prove that He was the Son of God, and the third reason was to teach through the symbolism of death and resurrection that Jesus has the power to give spiritual life. The real problem in the world is that people are dead spiritually and they need to come alive spiritually. Thatís why Jesus said to Nicodemus that we must be born of the Spirit.
Of all that humans can attain to, itís not worth much if they die and then perish forever. How vain is your life if all that you have are the material accomplishments or the praise of man. Humans spend a lot of time talking about preserving life as long as they can through the proper diet and exercise and health care. They are right to a certain degree; but if life on this earth is precious, then how much more precious is life that extends beyond this earth? Therefore, these many times that Jesus mentioned spiritual life and eternal life, He was talking about the most important issue of all. There is nothing more important than the destiny of your immortal soul, and when Jesus taught about His power to give eternal life, He was talking about the most important subject in all the world. Did Jesus not say, "What shall it profit a man should he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?" What Jesus is saying is that there may be a lot of things that are important in this life, but there is one thing that is more important: what happens to you after this life.
Jesus said in John 5:28-29, "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."
During His lifetime, Jesus raised a few people from the dead, but the day will come when everyone will be raised from the dead. When you go past a graveyard, and you see all of the tombstones, you can be sure of one thing: what you are looking at is not the final resting-place of the people who were buried there. Jesus said that the day will come when not just Lazarus will hear His voice and come forth, but that everyone who is in the grave will come forth. Jesus divided those who will be resurrected into two groups: those who have the resurrection of life and those who have the resurrection of evil.
Many people live primarily for the things that are going to happen to them in this life. The things that are the most important to them are the things that happen in this life. But Jesus said that the most important thing concerns what will happen in the next life, but that this life is also important because there are certain things in this life that will end up determining what happens in the next. This life is a preparation for the next life. Jesus said that the big issue of this life is the question of good and evil. There is good and there is evil. Some things in the world that you will be offered and that you will be faced with are good things; others are evil. There is a direct relationship between your attitude towards good and evil, and which resurrection that you will be a part of when Jesus calls your name. There is a struggle between good and evil in the soul of every human: you must make choices between good and evil every day. This does not mean that justification is by works, but it is the same concept as that expressed by James when he said that faith without works is dead. Itís the same idea as that expressed by Jesus in John Chapter three, when Jesus pointed out that those who do evil will not come to the light because they do not want their deeds to be reproved.
There is nothing more important in the world than having the motivation to do the right thing. Profits may be important, but they are not the most important thing: the most important thing in the world is doing what is right. You can do what is right and still make a profit. Donít ever try to justify dishonesty by the need to make a profit. Thatís just an excuse. In the long run you will make even higher profits, if you are honest, because of the return business. Everyone wants to do business with someone that they can trust.
Jesus said that they that do evil will be a part of the resurrection of damnation. Since we have all sinned, this obviously speaks of those who continue to sin and who never repent of their sins. Jesus said, "Except you repent, you shall all perish." Repentance involves asking for forgiveness, but it also involves a determination and a desire to do what is right the next time. In the teaching of Jesus in John Chapter 5, He is emphasizing the fact that there is life after death, and that the authority and the power to give life after death is invested in Jesus Himself.
Concerning this power of life and death that Jesus has, He said in John 5:30-32, "I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who has sent me. If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that bears witness of me: and I know that the witness that He witnesses of me is true." One of the things that is obvious about the teachings of Jesus, is that He does not brag about Himself, nor spend a great deal of time debating His own divine nature and character with those who do not believe. Jesus said that if He did do that, in a way it would almost be evidence that He was not the Son of God or was not telling the truth. Itís the same principle that applies to humans who spend a lot of time bragging about themselves or telling others about all of their fine qualities and abilities. One of the reasons that prideful humans attempt to project such an image of self-confidence is because they actually lack confidence and they are trying to make up for their lack of confidence by what they say about themselves. If they were really confident, they would not have to talk about themselves at all.
Jesus did not vaunt Himself nor project Himself inappropriately. Thatís one of the meanings behind the statement in the Bible that Jesus was meek. Beware of those who talk too much about themselves, because they are usually motivated by pride and they are probably trying to get your money or something else from you. Jesus did not speak inordinately about Himself, but there were witnesses to the true nature of Jesus: enough witnesses for anyone to believe who wants to believe.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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