JOHN, the Book, the Man – Part 12
April 22, 2007 Dr. Rick Isbell
In his book, “Loving God,” Charles Colson tells about a Russian Jewish doctor by the name of Boris Nicholayevich Kornfeld, a Russian Jewish doctor who was sentenced to a most inhuman Russian prison for a minor political crime in the 1950s. Because he was a physician he did receive some privileges in the prison in return for treating other prisoners. Still he suffered much abuse. His treatment would have in fact been unbearable except that he developed a friendship with another prisoner who through the quality of his witness brought Kornfeld a commitment to Christ.
Kornfeld felt a great inner freedom. He had a patient, a cancer patient, who was awaiting surgery. Kornfeld shared with him what Christ had done in his own life. Kornfeld was so enthusiastic about this change in his own life, that he caught the patient’s attention in spite of his brief lapses brought on by the medicine. Late into the night, the doctor stayed with his patient, sharing with him the unsearchable riches of Christ. Later that night someone slipped into the doctor’s quarters and brutally beat him to death. From a human standpoint that should be the end of the story, but, it is not.
The patient recovered from his surgery, but he was a changed man. Because of Kornfeld’s testimony, he became a Christian--and what a Christian he became. His name--Alexander Solzhenitszyn, who not only won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1970, but even more importantly became one of the world’s most influential voices for Christ.
Kornfeld and Solzhenitsyn both learned that the claims of Christ were never meant to merely become another piece of jewelry or become something to adorn our car bumpers. The claims of Christ were always meant to make radical changes in the lives of those around us; changes as radical as the claims themselves found in John chapter five.
You remember last week we talked about how Jesus had healed the man who had been sick for 38 years.
- The problem with this healing was that Jesus did it on the Sabbath and according to Jewish law, this type of activity on the Sabbath was punishable by death.
- It is interesting that Chapt 5 the religious leaders did not even acknowledge that the lame man was now healed
- Even though he had been sitting by the Pool of Behtesda for no telling how long, and was now walking around, they looked right past that miracle and to their beloved list of rules and regulations
- Their full attention was turned on finding and punishing the one who had carried out this act on the Sabbath
After determining that Jesus was the one who healed the man, the religious leaders confront Jesus about violating the Sabbath and He replied with the lengthy passage of Scripture that is our text for today.
- In these statements, Jesus makes some outrageous claims that will eventually the evidence that will lead to his death later in this book.
Jesus’ First Outrageous Claim:
He is equal to God
5:16 Therefore, the Jews began persecuting Jesus because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus responded to them, “My Father is still working, and I am working also.” 18 This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill Him: not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
The first statement that Jesus makes is an assertion that everything that the God the Father does, He does, and everything He does is also done by the Father.
- The only possible conclusion is that Jesus is claiming to be God.
- And the religious leaders have definitely not failed to notice
Today we more or less take it for granted that God is to be spoken of as “Father” but this was not the way it was in the first century.
- Jews would sometimes refer to God as “the Father” but they would usually add something like “in heaven” to make it clear they were not being too familiar.
- But when Jesus uses the term “my Father” it was a claim to special intimacy and the Jews recognized it as such.
- Jesus is claiming a relationship to the Father which cannot be applied to any other being in the universe;
- He is only begotten Son of God.
- With these statements, Jesus is basically spinning these guys around in circles.
- “How can you dare to presume to act and speak as if you were God!”
- Jesus says, “If I am God, how it is possible for me to act and speak in any other way?”
Jesus Claims Equality With The Father.
Jesus’ Second Outrageous Claim:
He is the Giver of Life
19 Then Jesus replied, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does these things in the same way. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him everything He is doing, and He will show Him greater works than these so that you will be amazed. 21 And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to anyone He wants to. 22 The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.
25 “I assure 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. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself.
Beyond His claim that he is equal with the Father, He claims that as the Son of God He is the giver of life.
- v. 21 - “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”
- The Old Testament clearly teaches that only God could give life or raise the dead to new life.
- Deut. 32:39 “Now see that I, even I, am He, And there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; Nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.”
- 1 Sam. 2:6 “The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up.”
The ability to give life is the privilege of deity
- So once again, Jesus is saying, “I am God.”
- This is an important passage of Scripture to what we believe because there are other religions out there who will say to you, “Jesus never claimed to be God… He was just a prophet of God… or He was a good man… but He was not God.”
- Well, these are Jesus’ own words and He is not dancing around the subject at.
- Remember John 5 if you ever get caught up in that debate.
Jesus is also telling us in vs. 24 and following that everlasting life is a present possession.
- Salvation is not just something we can have in the future;
- it is something that we can have now.
- Romans 10:9-10 the Apostle Paul wrote, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
The tenses of the verbs in vs. 24 indicate that when a person enters into this process of salvation, it remains theirs.
- 1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…”
- Salvation is something we can know we possess!
Jesus’ Third Outrageous Claim:
He has the authority to judge
27 And He has granted Him the right to pass judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come out—those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.
30 “I can do nothing on My own. I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
31 “If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid. 32 There is Another who testifies about Me, and I know that the testimony He gives about Me is valid. 33 You have sent messengers to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34 I don’t receive man’s testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a time you were willing to enjoy his light.
36 “But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent Me.
It sure went against the grain for Jesus to even begin to express that He had the authority to judge these religious leaders.
In Jesus’ ministry, He was clear that there was only one division among men… One division… two classes of people.
- Those who would call on His name in repentance and live forever –AND—
- Those who would reject Him and be condemned forever.
Jesus’ Fourth Outrageous Claim:
He is the subject of all the Old Testament writings
37 The Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me. You have not heard His voice at any time, and you haven’t seen His form. 38 You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. 39 You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. 40 And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.
41 “I do not accept glory from men, 42 but I know you—that you have no love for God within you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, yet you don’t accept Me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 44 How can you believe? While accepting glory from one another, you don’t seek the glory that comes from the only God. 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. 47 But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
Jesus said, “you read all this stuff from the Law, things written by Moses and others”
- “Well, all of that is about me!”
- You remember how the book of John started off – Talking about Jesus being the Logos – the very word of God?
Jesus says to them, “You boys have been reading words… but I am the WORD.”
Nothing they had ever seen or even thought about could begin to prepare them for what was unfolding in their presence.
C. S. Lewis wrote the dramatic series of books entitled “The Chronicles of Narnia,”
- in the last book “The Last Battle” he creatively describes to us what our hope is and what eternity will be like.
- At the end of “The Last Battle,” Aslan the Lion (who is the character of Jesus) tells Peter, Edmund, and Lucy there has been a railroad accident and they are dead.
- Here is how the text goes: “And as Aslan (the lion) spoke he no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. For us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. For them, it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has ever read: the Story which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
It is clear from today’s text who Jesus claims to be!
The two most important questions you will ever answer are these;
• Is Jesus right about who He claims to be?
• If He is right, what have you done about it?