Not Another God
Fidget spinners were pretty popular a couple of years ago. I remember Levi being on the lookout for new and different ones that he had never seen before. He had some pretty unique ones. One of them could link with his phone through Bluetooth and play music while it spun.
Jesus has just healed the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda and the man, who was healed, informed the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him on the Sabbath. This obviously got the attention of the Jews. What we’ll see today is that the Jews took offense to Jesus breaking the Sabbath code, but their hatred for Him goes even further when He claims equality with God.
Throughout John 5:16-30 we’ll see that Jesus defends His claim of being equal with God. This was difficult for the Jews to swallow, because they were monotheistic (believing in only one God). If Jesus was claiming to be equal with God that would mean there was more than one God. What they were struggling to understand is what John wants us to understand through this passage, that . . .
BIG IDEA – Jesus is God.
Jesus was not another God, He was God in the flesh.
We don’t see the introduction of the third part of the Trinity until Jesus’ ascension into heaven, when the Holy Spirit comes upon His disciples and they preach the Gospel, boldly, in Jerusalem.
GOD (John 5:16-30)
The Claim (vv. 16-18)
Doing these things
John doesn’t tell us what things Jesus was doing, but it seems pretty clear that it was healing on the Sabbath and telling people to break the Sabbath codes
The tense of the verb “doing” is in the imperfect with an indicative mood
What that means is that Jesus had a regular pattern of healing on the Sabbath
At this point in John’s Gospel we only have the one instance of that happening with the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda
John tells us that Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples (John 20:30) and that Jesus did many other things as well (John 21:25), but he has not recorded them because the world could not hold the books that would be written
So, the Greek tense here, lets us know that Jesus had probably healed other people on the Sabbath – it was a regular part of His ministry
This pattern of behavior was what caused the Jews to persecute Him
The verb tense for “persecuted” is again imperfect with an indicative mood
Since Jesus’ pattern of behavior was to heal on the Sabbath, the Jews pattern of behavior was to persecute or pursue Him
They were constantly pursuing Jesus, probably in an effort to find some reason to kill Him
They didn’t have to wait long
Equal with God
God is always at His work
“About the end of the first century, four eminent rabbis (Rabban Gamaliel II, R. Joshua, R. Eleazar b. Azariah, and R. Akiba) discussed the point, and concluded that although God works constantly, he cannot rightly be charged with violating the Sabbath law, since (1) the entire universe is his domain (Is. 6:3), and therefore he never carries anything outside it; (2) otherwise put, God fills the whole world (Je. 23:24); and in any case (3) God lifts nothing to a height greater than his own stature (Exodus Rabbah 30:9; cf. Genesis Rabbah 11:10).” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According To John, 247]
God works continually, because people die and children are born, righteous people need to be rewarded, and wicked people need to be punished [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 301]
All of those things happen on a Sabbath also
The problem was that the Jews misinterpreted the OT Sabbath command
I’m working too
“Jesus now adds that he, too, is working. He could have objected to the (inaccurate) Jewish interpretation of the OT Sabbath command that prohibited work normally done on the other six days of the week. These regulations (which referred to regular work) hardly applied to the man’s picking up his mat after a miraculous cure. But rather than taking this approach, Jesus places his own activity on the Sabbath plainly on the same level as that of God the Creator: If God is above Sabbath regulations, so is Jesus.” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 185]
Helping others, being kind in our actions, healing, and other acts of benevolence would not be considered “work”
Another important point
Jesus is not saying that because God works on the Sabbath, that human beings should work on the Sabbath
He is trying to establish that He is God, so if He is truly God, then He’s able to work on the Sabbath also
All of the factors that are true of God would naturally be true of Jesus as God
PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus and God are One.
We see this principle here in verse 17, but also in verses 19, 21, and 30
It’s what John wants us to understand from this passage – Jesus is God
The only reason that Jesus can say that He is able to work on the Sabbath is because He is God
That obviously doesn’t settle well with the Jews
The Jews’ want to kill Jesus
They want to kill Jesus for two reasons
He was breaking the Sabbath
He was making Himself equal with God
This was a problem for the Jews who were monotheistic (believing in only one God)
They believed that Jesus was either claiming to take the place of God or claiming to be an alternative to God [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 236]
Jesus was not claiming that He was taking God’s place or setting Himself up as another god
“What Jesus, as the One and Only Son of God (1:14, 18), claimed was to be sent by God, on mission for God, doing the works of God, obedient to God, and bringing glory to God.” [Borchert, 236]
Philippians 2:6-8, Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
He was claiming that He and God are One!
Jesus then outlines for us, why He is able to make this claim
The Defense (vv. 19-23, 30)
Jesus surrounds His claim, of being God’s Son, with two statements that show His connection and dependence on God
In verse 19, He says, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees the Father doing.”
In verse 30 we read these words, By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
These two statements are perfect bookends to his defense, that He and God are One
Jesus gives four reasons why He cannot do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing
Each of the four reasons start with the Greek word gar (for, because) and we see them in vv. 19b, 20, 21, and 22
What we’ll see in the first two are generalized statements about the works of the Father and the Son, while the second two give us more specifics about those works
Whatever the Father does the Son also does
The 1st Century reader would have understood the idea of a son learning His father’s trade (as an apprentice)
This illustration is not a perfect fit for Jesus and God, because they are One
It does help us understand in human terms that Jesus was not doing anything on earth independently of the Father
In an apprenticeship, the Master is constantly watching over the work of the apprentice and checking his work, after he is finished, to make sure it meets the Master’s expectations for quality and craftsmanship
The purpose of an apprenticeship is for the Master to impart His knowledge and skill, about his trade, to the apprentice
When the apprentice does his work, it should look just like the Masters (in some cases, any regular person, would not be able to tell the difference between the work of the Master and the work of the apprentice)
Jesus, as God, would have accomplished each task perfectly
“It is impossible for the Son to take independent, self-determined action that would set him over against the Father as another God, for all the Son does is both coincident with and coextensive with all that the Father does. ‘Perfect Sonship involves perfect identity of will and action with the Father.’ (Westcott, 1. 189).” [Carson, 251]
The second reason why Jesus can only do what He sees the Father doing is because . . .
The Father loves the Son and shows him all he does
This is the basis for the Son’s dependence on the Father
In the 1st Century, where fathers passed their trade on to their sons, it was obviously because they loved their sons
They weren’t going to hold back a part of the trade from them, but rather show them every aspect of it
Out of His great love for the Son, the Father will show the Son even greater things than these
The reference to “these” is probably referring to the miracles that Jesus was enabled to do by God’s power (healing the government official’s son, healing the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda, and many other healings that took place on the Sabbath)
The “greater things” is perhaps referring to, giving life and judging, which are the next two “for/because” statements
The third reason why Jesus can only do what He sees the Father doing is because . . .
Just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is please to give it
This is a perfect illustration of the principal truth that the Son does whatever the Father does
“Rabbi Johanan asserted that three keys remained in God’s hand and were not entrusted to representatives: the key of the rain (cf. Dt. 28:12), the key of the womb (cf. Gn. 30:22), and the key of the resurrection of the dead (cf. Ezk. 37:13, SB 1. 523-525, 737, 895).” [Carson, 253]
This is just another affirmation that Jesus is God
God was not entrusting the key of the resurrection of the dead to another person
The Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it
This phrase can make it sound like Jesus is separate from God in the ability to give life
Jesus is certainly not a robot
“He acts with a certain autonomy, doing what ‘he wants’ (thelei) with the limits of his mission as One ‘sent’ from the Father, and in the framework of his responsibility to obey the Father (see 4:34).” [Michaels, 312]
The fourth reason why Jesus can only do what He sees the Father doing is because . . .
The Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son
Here we see a transfer of responsibility to the Son
The judgment that is in view is the final judgment at the end of the age, which we’ll see in more detail in verses 28-29
The Son is not judging in a void, which is what we see in verse 30
This brings us full circle
As was already stated, Jesus surrounds His claim of being God’s Son with two statements that show His connection and dependence on God
Jesus is speaking in first person now, referring to Himself
He says that He can do nothing by Himself
He only judges as He hears
The whole purpose behind His just judgement is to please God – they have the same mind
The reason that the Father has entrusted judgment to the Son is that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father
This is a key truth that separates Christianity from all other religions of the world
The answer to the question, “What do you say about Jesus – who He is and why He came to earth?”
Every other religion of the world will minimalize and marginalize Jesus
They will say He was a good teacher, another prophet, just a man
They will refuse to acknowledge His deity
They will reject Him as the only way to the Father, as the Bread of Life, as Living Water, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life
They’ll say that they believe in God and that all roads lead to heaven
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder (James 2:19)
All roads lead to God, but not all roads lead to heaven
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11)
Yet, here, Jesus makes it clear that if we don’t honor the Son we don’t honor the Father either
It’s more than just believing in God
It’s accepting Jesus Christ as His plan of salvation
It’s honoring God’s redemptive plan by believing in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection
But, I’m getting ahead of myself
Jesus’ defense is complete, but now He expands on the two specific works that he mentioned in verses 21 (giving life) and 22 (judging justly)
The Gospel (vv. 24-27)
Jesus explains what every person needs to do in order to experience eternal life
Truly, truly (Amen, amen) is letting us know to pay attention – something important is being communicated
PRINCIPLE #2 – Eternal life comes through Jesus Christ.
Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life
Jesus word here is powerful
The healing of the government official’s son came by Jesus’ word (“You may go. Your son will live.”)
The healing of the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda came by Jesus’ word (“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”)
In both cases the men believed what Jesus said, His word
It was more than just hearing Jesus’ words spoken to them, but it took faith on their part to believe what He said
Hearing and believe are two important components of genuine obedience [Borchert, 239]
The same is true for you and me
Genuine obedience is not just hearing the Gospel message, but believing it
Read Romans 10:8-10, 13-17
We have to confess to God that we are sinners in need of His salvation
We have to repent of our sins and genuinely turn away from them, to God
We have tell God that we believe that Jesus died, was buried, and came alive again to take our punishment for sin
My Next Step Today Is To: Hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believe in God’s redemptive plan, so I can experience eternal life.
We see the result of hearing Jesus’ word and believing in God
It’s eternal life and not condemnation
We have crossed over from death to life
“The phrase he has crossed over appears in the perfect tense, meaning the actual crossing took place some time in the past, but the result continues to the present. In short, salvation is an accomplished fact and an assured position.” [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 102]
Jesus is here!
Truly, truly (Amen, amen) – pay attention!
A time is coming and has now come
Jesus is able to speak of a time that is coming, because He is God, He is eternal, and He knew about God’s redemptive plan (Jesus was there at creation, at the fall, and throughout all of human history)
The fact that Jesus was with these Jews face-to-face means that the time had now come for God to fulfill His redemptive plan through Jesus
When the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God
Jesus is not speaking about those who have physically died
When He says the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, He is talking about the spiritually dead (all of humanity)
The Jews, who are spiritually dead, are hearing Jesus’ voice
The question remains, “Will they hear, understand, and accept Jesus as God?”
If they do, they will live (have eternal life)
Verse 26 is really just a restatement of the truth found in verse 21, because the Father has life in Himself, the Son also has life in Himself (what is true of the Father is true of the Son, because Jesus is God)
Verse 27 is an transition verse from Jesus authority to give eternal life to His authority to judge at the end of time
The Eschatology (vv. 28-29)
Jesus tells His hearers not to be amazed that God has given Him the authority to judge
It would seem that amazement would not be their reaction to His statement
Rather, it would seem that outrage and anger would be their reaction
They are already wanting to kill Him, because He was claiming equality with God
Now He’s saying that God has given Him authority to judge, which was another characteristic that the Jews believed only God had the right to do
End times judgement
The judgement that Jesus is speaking about is not right then, but rather when He returns
1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Everyone will come alive again and stand before Jesus as the righteous Judge
Those who have done good will rise to live
Don’t misunderstand what Jesus is saying here
He is not saying that we are saved by the good things we have done
The natural outpouring of a transformed life through the power of Jesus Christ is a desire to do good
Through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us we are able to do what Paul encourages the Philippian believers to do, do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4)
Jesus talks about final judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 and how whatever we have done to for one of the least of these brothers of His, we have done to Him (it’s another reminder of what Paul was saying)
Are you living selflessly with humility?
Are you considering others before yourself?
Are you looking also to the interests of others?
Are you helping the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned?
Doing all those things for God’s glory is evidence of a transformed life through the power of Jesus Christ
My Next Step Today Is To: Evaluate my life to make sure that I’m doing good for God’s glory and not my own.
Those who have been transformed by hearing Jesus’ words and believing in God will be raised to eternal life
Those who have done evil will rise to be condemned
The other group that is raised are those who have continued in their sinful state
They died without hearing Jesus’ words and believing in God
They continued is their state of sin even to the point of death
Their eternal fate is not life, but condemnation and eternal death – separation from God forever
Hell will be their home
We need to believe the foundational truth that Jesus is God!
Without that foundational truth your belief in God is nothing different than all other religions of the world
Jesus’ deity, His death, burial, and resurrection make all the difference
That’s what sets Christianity apart
That’s what determines your eternal destiny
Hearing Jesus’ words and believing in God transforms us into people who desire to do good for God’s glory
A transformed life is what unifies us as a body of believers
The world is seeking a genuine body of believers who are like-minded, have the same love, and are one in spirit and purpose
We need to be that body of believers for the greater Idaville community
C.S. Lewis wrote:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him: ‘I am ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 185].