LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
In the mountains of the Northwest, a man was sitting beside a campfire while he roasted some kind of bird over the fire with eager anticipation. About this time, a forest ranger came upon the camp and asked the camper what he was preparing for dinner. The camper replied that it was a seagull. A frown came over the ranger’s face as he informed this fellow that it was against the law to kill that particular bird, and that he would have to give him a citation.
The camper responded by telling the ranger how he had lost his way and had consumed all of his food. In desperation, he had managed to kill this seagull to maintain his strength. After listening sympathetically, the forest ranger told the fellow he would let him go this time with just a warning, and the camper thanked the ranger profusely. Just as the ranger was about to leave, he asked the camper, "Just out of curiosity, what does seagull taste like?" Thinking for a moment, the camper responded, "Well, I would place it somewhere between a spotted owl and a bald eagle."
Have you ever discovered it is often better to say less? Well, this was certainly true for this man! The same also might be said of the text we are studying today.
We might be tempted to think that it would have been better for Jesus to say less rather than more. But Jesus does not hold back.
First, let us remember our context. Last week, we considered the story of the healing of the invalid who had been sitting by the pool of Bethesda, hoping to be healed. He had been an invalid for 38 years and Jesus asks Him if he wants to be well. After he explains his situation, Jesus commands him to get up, take up his bed and walk. And the man does. In healing the invalid, Jesus demonstrated His desire to give wholeness. Jesus was interested in providing physical wholeness.
Even more importantly though, He desired to give him spiritual wholeness as well. But there was a problem. The Jewish leaders were not happy with Jesus, because Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Jesus has quickly become a thorn in the flesh to the Jewish leaders.
To them, He is a renegade that does not conform to the status quo. The matter that strikes me in this passage is that if Jesus is trying to avoid confrontation, He sure is doing a lousy job. The fact of the matter, though, is that…
Jesus does not avoid the truth. He will not try to get along with the Jewish leaders if it means compromising truth. He is going to say who He is and they either need to embrace Him or reject Him. It is meant to be that simple. He lays it out very simply.
He is God.
JESUS IS GOD.
So, We will find in John 5:16-30 three claims Jesus made to establish His equality with God.
1. The first claim Jesus made is that He is the SON vs. 16-20.
A. Just as the Father continually works for that which is good, so does Jesus. Have you ever stopped to consider what would happen if God would suddenly stop working? God is constantly at work. It is because of Him we breathe. It is because of Him that the universe continues to exist. It is because of Him that the creation is continually sustained. God never stops doing that which is good.
This is the essence of Jesus’ argument about those that are complaining about His Sabbath activity. He is merely imitating God. He will do good just as God does. It is a matter of consistency. So then, we find that Jesus acts like God and talks as if He is God.
And to defend His God-like actions, Jesus claims to be God. You see…
B. Jesus claims a unique relationship with God. For not only is God the Father, God is His father. The inference was very clear to the Jewish mind. Since Jesus claims that God is His father, He is claiming an unprecedented equality with God. For the Jew, there was no more serious offense that could be made.
C. The Jewish leaders considered his claim as blasphemy. The original accusation of being a Sabbath-breaker paled to this charge. And for them, there was only one conclusion to be made. It was a time to kill. Jesus had to die. They could not let Him run free and change everything that they stood for. But…
D. Regardless of their theological concerns, Jesus claims unity in His relationship with God. One writer describes Jesus’ statements in this passage as a formal, systematic, orderly statement of His unity with the Father. But it was even more. William Barclay has written in his commentary that for Jesus this was “an act of the most extraordinary and unique courage…He must have known that to speak like this was to court death…”
It was a bold statement, because if Jesus wished to avoid trouble, this would have been a perfect time to clarify what He means and what He is doing and to soothe their anger. Jesus has no interest in that. Instead, He puts the leadership on the defensive.
For, in effect, He asks how they can deny the claims of One who says He is God and who also does the works of God?
They accuse Him of daring to presume to act and speak as if He was sent by God Himself. But for Jesus, it was not possible to act in any other way. You see, because He is God, He must act like God. It is like Father, like Son. And yet, He was not yet done.
There were greater works to do yet…
2. The second claim Jesus made is that He is the SAVIOR vs. 21-24…
A. Jesus graciously bestows life. You will remember in the event before, that Jesus extended grace to the invalid. He chooses him out of all the others that were by the pool. And this is a reminder that it is Jesus that graciously gives life. We do not invent it or make it. It is graciously handed to us. And this is how it happens…
B. When we hear and believe, a new quality of life comes our way. When we believe the credentials of Jesus (who He says He is) and then act on them, we are saved.
When we hear His claims and act on them, we cross over from the state of death to the state of life. As a result, we never taste of the emptiness and loneliness of death. We know a new quality of life, characterized by richness, fullness, and beauty. He is our Savior.
There is only one opinion that counts so to speak. And that opinion belongs to God through His Son Jesus who said John 14:6, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.” The only opinion that counts belongs to the Designer of the universe, for we are designed to live according to the moral law of God.
3.. The third claim Jesus made is that He is the SEPARATOR vs.25-30...
A. Jesus is the final arbiter of human destiny. Jesus becomes the judge of all because the Father exercises His prerogative of judgment through the Son. So Jesus executes judgment and determines where everybody will end up for eternity.
B. Jesus judges the morality of the works of each person. Jesus decides according to what is good and evil. He decides according to what is moral and immoral, right and wrong. He is the dividing line.
I don’t want you to think that our salvation is based on works. It is a gift and it cannot be earned. But judgment for rewards is based on works. Those who have obeyed God’s word, walked in fellowship and shared His life, they are the ones who have done good. Those who have refused His life, turned their backs on truth and shut their ears to the offer of grace, they are the ones who while they are saved will not receive their rewards in heaven.
1. Do you see Jesus as He is? John is concerned that we get Jesus right. From the very beginning of His gospel, he has told us that the Word (meaning Jesus) was God and that the Word became flesh.
The biblical testimony is sure. Jesus can never be compared with Mohammed, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, the virgin Mary, Moses or any religious leader. But the truth is; much of the world has an image of Jesus as a good man with good teachings on how we are to get along with each other.
If that were true though, He would never have gotten Himself in trouble, and He definitely would not have been crucified. You see, the facts don’t match up with that line of thinking.
In C. S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity, he makes this case well: “(Many) people say about Him (Jesus): "I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher but I don’t accept His claim to be God." That is the 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. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
2. Here are our choices about Jesus:
A. He was a Legend. If Jesus did not really live, then the reports of His existence are a lie. This is all nothing more than a legend. The evidence, though, does not really let us come to that conclusion. For we have more literary and historical evidence of Jesus’ existence than we do for Homer, Plato, Aristotle and Julius Caesar combined. Yet, we all believe that they existed.
B. He was a Liar. If Jesus did exist, but He knew that His claim to be God was not true, then He was a liar. He was a deceiver trying make himself something he was not.
C. He was a Lunatic. If Jesus did exist, but He did not know that His claim to be God was not true, then He was a lunatic. He was nothing more than a madman who was suffering from delusions of grandeur.
D. He is Lord. If Jesus did exist and His claim to be God is true, then He is nothing less than Lord. He is the Lord of life, holding all life in His hands. Thus, the testimony of Paul in Philippians 2:5-11 is correct: Philippians 2:5-11… So the real question is…
3. What will you do with Jesus? We are coming to the time of the year that people make a casual acknowledgment about Jesus. We will have a large attendance on Easter morning with many visitors. And we will speak of resurrection, and they will hear and find some comfort, but most will probably consider it symbolic and not real. But not us!
For it is the resurrection that proves it once for all that Jesus is God. For if He is not, we are without hope. But we do have hope, for eternity.
In C. S. Lewis great series, The Chronicles of Narnia, he creatively describes to us what our hope is and what eternity will be like: At the end of Lewis’ book 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 what it says: “And as he [Aslan] 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. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But 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 the cover and title page: now at last they were begin-ning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
God will grant you such a future as well, when you hear His word and believe Him who sent Jesus. You too will have eternal life, where each moment is better than the one before.