Good morning. If you have your Bibles, go ahead and grab those. John, chapter 5, is where we’re going to get into today, that passage in particular. We’re right at the beginning of a section of John that is all about the authority of Jesus, so that started last week, and we saw last week out of the text that people, by and large, can put up with Jesus’ authority up to a point.
When it comes to the inclusion Jesus brings about, people can rally around that. If you say, “In the power of the gospel, socioeconomic, ethnicities, backgrounds, and current struggles don’t matter and we’re all made one in Christ,” people can, by and large, get on board with that. If you’re saying, “It doesn’t matter what your background is and it doesn’t matter what your current struggle is, Christ’s love, his grace, and his mercy are present.” Most people say, “Get down with that.” Right?
If we’re talking about Jesus’ authority over human fragility (that Jesus can heal diseases and Jesus has authority over emotional and spiritual brokenness), then people, by and large, go, “Yes, I want that,” but as we saw in the passage last week, when the authority of Jesus that is necessary for those things to be a reality then collides with our own personal, strong beliefs, that’s when all of a sudden we have a problem with Jesus’ authority.
When Jesus confronts our own individual, “I know what I want; I know what my life should look like; I know what’s best for me,” and when Jesus’ authority slams into that, we realize what we actually believe and what we actually love. We find out in that moment, “Am I using God to worship something else or do I love and follow Jesus?” That’s what we find out.
Over a period of time, over and over and over again, you’re going to be confronted, because, as we’ve covered, Jesus is the Son of God. He is co-eternal with the Father. He’s not just a good teacher. If you’re co-eternal with the Father and if you have always been, you will see things differently than those who have just been here for a moment. Correct?
I see the world in a completely different way than my 9-year-old. The way she sees the world and the way I see the world are not even the same universe. I mean, we’re both breathing oxygen, we both need food to stay alive, and we both require sleep. That’s about the extent of how she sees reality versus how I see reality. I’m just about to be 45, and she’s just about to be 10, so imagine if you’re just about to be 55 up and against infinite. You guys are going to collide, and what you do in that collision is significant.
We also said we see that people tend to have problems with Jesus’ authority when his deity shows. People have a problem with Jesus’ authority when Jesus says, “This is the path to life, and you’re off of it. I need you back on this.” We’re going, “No, no, no! I know the path of life. The path of life is what I want and when I want it and how I want it,” because that’s the air we’re breathing.
Then, we just don’t like to spend a lot of time, regardless of what we say, really thinking about Jesus as being God, because if Jesus is God, then all of his sermons and the gospel…everything he teaches…is far more significant and weighty than a moral philosopher or a good teacher or a genie in a bottle we can kind of control and make do what we want.
Every year you’ll be able to spot when I’m back reading C.S. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory and Mere Christianity. I just dive into those two every year. I’m back in them in this season. Here’s a quote, again, that I came across this week. I know I quoted Lewis last week. This is a different quote. “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
That’s massive for where we’re going today. If Jesus is God, then that is infinitely important, and if he is not, then none of this is important, but the only thing it can’t be is like a little add-on we put on the rest of our lives along with our gym memberships and our hobbies of doing this with a little Jesus on Sunday. He cannot be that. This is all a lie and of no importance, or it’s true and is of infinite importance.
My hope today is to get our eyes up and let us marvel at Jesus, the Son of God. If you were here last week, you remember the Jews of the day were done with Jesus. They want to put him to death. He’s challenging their strongly held beliefs. He’s calling himself God, so Jesus, in turn, answers their concerns. It always struck me that Jesus never really was seeker sensitive. He’s not trying to deescalate this thing. He’s doubling down. The whole crowd was like, “We hate you!” He was like, “You hate me now? Wait until this next message.”
Let me show you what he’s doing here. Look at verse 19 of John, chapter 5. Jesus said to this mob or this crowd that is so angry that he’s claiming to be God and confronting their strongly held beliefs about the Sabbath, “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. For 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.”
I’m just going to stop there for a second. One of the reasons I’m telling you, “Don’t read your Bible like it’s a newspaper and don’t blow through it,” is because we just learned something about the character of our God there. “I write these things so that you may marvel.” What kind of God wants you to marvel, wants you to be in awe, wants you to be blown away, and wants your heart to overflow with, “Wow”?
This isn’t cowering. Our God didn’t say, “I’m telling you these things so you might cower under my power and might.” He’s saying, “I let you know these things that you might be amazed, that you might marvel, and that you might be captivated again by beauty.” There’s something about the nature and character of our God that is counterintuitive to us. We feel like he’s always slightly disappointed in us. Yet, here he is saying, “I’m writing that you might marvel and you might be in awe and you might be blown away.” Verse 21:
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 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.
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. 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.
For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”
I want to point out just a couple of things here and then take that whole thing and make it a sentence. You’re not getting out that quickly, but I’m going to tell you I’m going to do that, and then we’ll dive in. Here’s what we’re seeing in this passage. We have more to read later, but what we’re seeing here is that there is a perfect identity of will and action between God the Father and the Son.
There is perfect identity in will and action. The Father and the Son in will and action are the same. They’re not the same. The Son is not the Father; the Father is not the Son, but in identity, will, and action, they don’t disagree. You’re like, “Where is the Spirit?” We’ll get to the Spirit. Breathe, Trinitarians. I love you. This stuff is hard for our brains, but Jesus says, “I don’t do anything that the Father isn’t doing. Yet, he has given to me to do whatever I will, according to his will.” It makes the brain cramp a little bit, but it’s super important. It’s what makes us distinctively Christian.
Here’s what Jesus just did. There are two realities that are believed with great passion in monotheistic Judaism. Life is from God alone at the beginning, and judgment at the end of time belongs to God alone. Do you hear me? Two passionately held beliefs in monotheistic Judaism are that only God gives life in the beginning and only God judges life at the end.
What Jesus just told this mob that is pretty angry about him calling himself God is that he, as the Son of Man, has been given both life and judgment, and he goes so far as to say that the Father no longer judges but has given judgment to him as the Son. If you’re still saying, “I don’t quite get why they want to kill Jesus. He’s feeding everybody, and he’s raising people from the dead. He’s driving out demons. He’s healing the sick…”
Because he was calling himself God and they had no framework for there to be any God but the Father, and Jesus is saying, “The Father has life, but he has given life to me, and the Father no longer judges, because he has given all judgment to me.” Not some judgment. “He has given all judgment and all life to me as the Son, and I do the will of the Father as I see it and execute upon it.”
I want to dive into this. Let’s look at life. Look at the range Jesus operates in here when it comes to life. Look at verse 21. “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” Look at Jesus’ range. “Life has been given to me by the Father because I am God.” In fact, watch this. “I give life to whoever I will.” That’s range. This isn’t a one-off. This isn’t…remember from last week…the sick son of who Jesus tells the official, “Go on home. Your son won’t die. In fact, he’s healed.” That’s a pretty awesome one-off.
Jesus is flexing right here. He’s like, “No, no! Whomever I will.” Gosh! We’re going to see this a lot as we go through John. Lazarus… Do you remember that story from felt-board Sunday school? Take away the tomb. Jesus. We know the thing he did with the kid. Lazarus had been dead like three days. “Okay. Move the stone.” There’s not a big debate. He’s like, “Lazarus, come forth,” and he does after being dead for three days. That’s whomever I will. He’s saying, “I am God.” Jesus is doubling down against the critique that he’s some kind of prophet or some kind of teacher.
He’s going, “No, no! Life and judgment are mine. Forget all of the other miraculous signs. Life and judgment are what is unique to God and unique to me because I am God.” In fact, you see this even more so when you get into judgment. Monotheistic faith, regardless of whether that is Islam or Judaism, is convinced the final judgment is one of the select privileges that only God can have. No one else gets to judge at the end of time but God, but Jesus just said, “That judgment has been given to me. I am life, and I am also judgment.”
In fact, look at why God would do that. Look at verse 23. “…that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” This is not to diminish the Father. The authority of Jesus over life and judgment does not serve to diminish or eclipse the Father but to actually focus him and bring him into view so that you and I can understand who God is. It is in the coming of the Son of Man and it is in Jesus Christ that we begin to see the Father all the more clearly. Jesus is not diminishing or eclipsing the Father; he’s making him known.
Remember Colossians. He is the image of the invisible God. Do you want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. Do you want to know how God would treat you or how God would interact with you or how God would look upon your life? Read the Gospels. Watch Jesus interact. Watch Jesus extend grace. See who he confronts. You can find the heart of God by looking at Jesus.
It’s important to know that Judaism, Islam, and even Unitarianism, at some point, believe you must not honor Jesus as divine. You must not honor Jesus as divine in order to exclusively honor God alone as divine. Now, Jesus is teaching that it doesn’t work that way. If you want to honor God, you must honor the one whom he sent (Jesus the Son), and the only way to honor God the Father is to honor God the Son through God the Holy Spirit.
Is anyone like, “It’s kind of coming into… Okay, it’s gone”? Get in the Training Program. We’re Trinitarians and that’s important. It’s what makes us distinctively Christian. It’s a beautiful doctrine, complex and beautiful in all its ways. You see that Jesus here in the face of people enraged that he calls himself God teaches, “I have the only two attributes that are God’s and God’s alone. In me is life, and in me is judgment, because God has given these things to me, and I do as I see the Father doing. We are one in will and action,” which means Jesus is not diminishing or eclipsing the Father.
It’s not like the Father is like this, and Jesus says, “No, no, no.” It’s Jesus and the Father one in will and action with the Holy Spirit. I know you ghosty folk want to know where he is. He’ll show up here in a second. Just breathe. I think it’s important to note that in this passage we not forget what we’re being invited into.
If you remember, what we’ve been covering through the gospel of John is the invitation to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that life is in his name. Not in moral believing in his teachings but life is found in Christ. Why? Because he’s God. If you want life non-existence, it is found in Jesus. It’s not found in any kind of hyper-reality you’re seeing out there. It’s found in Jesus not in just facts about Jesus. We’ll cover that in a moment. It’s found in Christ, which is why I think that doctrine of union with Christ is so important for you to study.
It’s like Jesus knows there is going to be a lot of opposition. It’s weird how he does that omnipotent and all-powerful thing, but he knows there are going to be some issues with this, so he gives witnesses or evidences or proofs that he is the Son of God. There are four of them. We didn’t read the next part of this passage. For time’s sake, we’re going to just look at these four significant witnesses to his deity. Look in verse 32.
- The Holy Spirit. “There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.” Jesus is cryptically referencing the Holy Spirit in that verse. This summer, in chapters 14, 15, and 16, before Jesus is arrested and crucified and as he’s preparing his disciples for a world post-ascension, we’re going to teach and train on the Holy Spirit, so I’m not going to do a lot now because we’re going to do quite a bit of that this summer.
It’s the Holy Spirit who has done the work of illumination that made you a Christian, and it is the Holy Spirit who testifies to your spirit right now that you are a son or daughter of God. If you’re like, “I don’t know how that works,” I would say this is how that works. If you have a desire to follow Jesus, a desire to grow in your knowledge of him, and a desire to submit all the more to his lordship… Regardless of how well you’re doing at that, I would say that’s the testimony of the Spirit testifying to your spirit that you are a child of God.
On the same note, if none of that exists in you, I would not call myself a Christian. You can email me all upset about that, but you are certainly outside the boundaries of biblical orthodox Christian faith. If you say, “I have no plan of following him, I don’t love him, and I don’t want to submit to him, but I did get baptized when I was 7,” that’s not what it means to be a Christian.
The Spirit does the work of illumination. We believe Jesus is God. This is a proof. This is an evidence. We believe Jesus is God, and then, even as I struggle through life in a fallen world, the Spirit testifies to my spirit, “You’re a son of God. Get your head up. You’re a son of God. This painful season will not last. Get your head up. You’re a son of God.”
That, although nice and pleasurable, makes for a crummy God. “You are a son of God. Get your eyes where they belong. Line up your life with what is true. Submit to the one who loves you and is for you.” This is what is happening in this passage. Look where he goes next.
- John the Baptist. The testimony of John the Baptist is also, but it’s weird… Let’s go. Verse 33: “You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John.”
You have the first proof or first evidence of the Holy Spirit’s testimony in the life of the believer, and now he’s pointing to the testimony of John the Baptist, but he does it in this funny way. He says two things about it. One takes away from human testimony and one adds to human testimony. Here’s the first thing when it comes to beauty and limitation. Look around because this is so important that you get it.
What you believe about God cannot diminish God. Do you hear me? If you want to say, “I don’t believe that about God,” that does not make God any less God. “I just don’t believe God would act like that.” Do you think all of a sudden God goes, “Gosh! Let me shrink a little bit.” What you ultimately believe about God has much for you but does not affect God’s God-ness in any way. That is laughable that you think what you think about God somehow defines God ultimately. God cannot be defined by you. God is God.
The testimony of John… He’s praising while also laying out there, “I’m not validated by man! My deity is not validated by John,” but then he says, “Yet, he was a burning and shining lamp, and I say this so that you may be saved.” Human testimony offers little vertical proof. The Bible and the Holy Spirit (horizontally) draw men and women to love Jesus as Lord and Savior.
The power of human testimony is utilized by the Holy Spirit to draw men and women to Jesus, but they don’t ever validate Jesus as God because Jesus is God regardless of human testimony. It cannot be diminished by the thoughts of man. It’s laughable. Look at what’s next. Let’s pick it up right where we were in verse 36 in the second half of the verse.
- Miracles. “For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.” We know Jesus’ ministry is already marked by these miraculous signs. In fact, some we’ve seen, and some we haven’t seen, but if you remember back in chapter 3, Nicodemus comes to Jesus in the middle of the night and says, “We know that you are from God, for how can a man do the things you’re doing if God has not sent him?”
Jesus is referencing now the miraculous signs that he’s able to do, and Jesus has authority over everything (over life, over death, over judgment, over the weather, over the natural order, over sickness, over demons). He has ultimate authority. He’s going to show it over and over. In fact, next week he’s going to take a kid’s lunch and feed 5,000 people with it. He’s going to take a Lunchable and feed 5,000 people. Then, to follow that up, he’s going to jog across the sea.
This is important to know, because even though Jesus is using this as evidence that he is not just a prophet but that he is God, he views these miraculous signs as less than the fact that he has life and judgment. It is life and judgment that shows off his deity. If you look at Elijah, if you look at Moses, if you look at some of the demonically produced miracles in the Old Testament, it’s clear that other things and other places can break the natural order of things, but what Jesus is saying really reveals his deity.
Life and judgment are found in him, but he’s also saying, “I can do whatever I want. Watch this! I’ll run across the sea, take this Lunchable and feed 5,000 people, and tell Lazarus to quit being dead.” I highlight this a lot because it’s important. Jesus never gets into an argument with a demon. It’s not dualism. It’s not like, “Who is stronger here?”
Have you ever noticed that? Jesus is just as calm as can be. “Get in the pigs. Get out. Be quiet. Off with you.” There is never this really loud, “Let me get louder. Let me get people around me to help.” There’s none of that. Jesus has ultimate authority, so these miraculous signs he’s doing are less than.
They are astonishing, but they are less than the fact that life and judgment belong to Jesus, because Elijah had great power. Moses had great power, but Jesus’ power is greater than because he’s not operating in that power as a prophet but as the Son of God co-eternal with the Father. Here’s where I want to spend a good chunk of our time.
- The Bible. The last witness to his deity is found in verse 37, and I think it’s pertinent. Let’s look at this. Verse 37: “And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”
The last evidence of his deity that he lays before this crowd that is so angry about his deity is the Bible itself. What is happening in this text is not that they know their Bibles so well that they can’t see Jesus. It’s that they don’t know their Bible at all so they can’t see Jesus. Do you follow me? Let me cut to the chase. Look right at me.
The Bible is not about the Bible. The Bible is about Jesus, and if you’re going to marvel and you’re going to be in awe and you’re going to be blown away by the goodness of God, it will come by knowing the Book that introduces you more fully to Jesus by the power of the Spirit, and the more you don’t know your Bible the less worship, the less awe, the less marvel, and the less joy is possible. You will not get some lightning bolt on high that will let you walk in ghosty zeal without being rooted in the Book.
That’s why we do classes. That’s why we do the Training Program. That’s why we’re trying to get you in the Book. It’s why our podcasts are about this. It’s why we do Knowing Faith. Because the more you see Jesus in the Book the more you’ll marvel, the more joy will flood your heart, and the more you’ll be astonished at what he has done. The more you just guess what God is like and invent a God of your own imagination he will be too thin and too weak to be of any real value to you, because you at your best can’t beat this.
Like Marvel movies and superpowers… Jesus is like, “Oh, please! Thanos? Give me a break! I don’t even have to click. I just think. Everybody’s dead, not just half.” This is what we’re talking about. “Life and judgment are mine. They’re mine. Life and judgment are mine. All of it is mine because I’m God.” This is astonishing.
When the church is ignorant of the Book, they’re ignorant of Jesus, and when they’re ignorant of Jesus, they’re weak and frail and afraid. The more we know the Book the more we see Jesus and the more we’re in awe and the more our courage increases and the more boldness becomes a reality and the more life there is to be had.
I want to highlight this because this is in the time and day in which we live. It’s clear that biblical illiteracy is rampant. What we’re looking for is a quick short way to be full of the life of Christ without actually knowing exactly who he is, and I just wonder sometimes if one of the reasons you have a hard time studying your Bible is because you think the Bible is about the Bible.
“Let me just learn the Bible because it’s the Bible.” No. You learn the Bible because the Bible is about Jesus. In fact, he’s going to go so far as to say this for me. I don’t even have to say it. Look at verse 45. You can tell this would be a tense service. To double down after all of the people were like, “Let’s kill him!”
“Before you do one more message!” Look at verses 45 and 46. “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” Here, Moses means the Law, the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) written by Moses.
“In the law is written about me, the Christ, the Son of God, and if you will not believe the words of Moses, who is your guy, there is no way you can believe my words.” This is a confrontation for those who use the Bible for something other than to know, love, and worship Jesus Christ as Lord, and if you’re not careful, accumulating biblical knowledge without that as the end goal (to know, love, worship, and make much of Jesus) actually makes you far less than what God intends for you to be.
Don’t hear me saying anything disparaging about the Word of God. The problem these people had was they thought they knew the Book without knowing it, and this is Jesus’ confrontation. “You’re using the Bible to actually hide from me. You’re using the Bible to avoid me.” What? “You study the Scriptures and…” Bang! “You think in them you have life, yet those Scriptures are telling you life is found in me.”
I’m not accusing you. Moses is accusing you. I wish I had more time because we could go to Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and I could show you all of the places where Moses is going, “There’s one coming. There’s one coming. There’s one coming. There’s one coming,” on repeat, and Jesus is going, “I’m here.” They’re like, “Who? That’s impossible!”
Jesus is going, “Moses said. Moses is your guy. Right? Moses is the one. Moses said I’m coming. Here I am. I don’t accuse you. Moses accuses you.” The Scriptures are proof that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and life is found in him. Now, remember what it is we’re doing here. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and life is found in his name.
This seems counterintuitive. In order for you and I to actually come alive in the ways we’re so hungry to come alive we have to reject the hyper-reality that’s always being thrown out before us. Hyper-reality is a phrase by Mark Sayers. He’s talking about how everywhere you look it looks like things are amazing, and if you move that way things will be amazing for you.
Has anybody ever noticed on Instagram all marriages are awesome? Have you ever picked this up on Facebook? Everybody’s kid is perfectly obedient on Facebook. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on that. This is hyper-reality. You and I live in a world where we are constantly being told, “If you’ll move this way, all of your dreams will come true,” and if you’re not careful, you’ll never wake up to the fact that everybody is lying to you, and all of that is hyper-reality and not true.
Life is found in Christ. It’s the only place it is found. Porn is hyper-reality. That’s not sex. The good life? That’s hyper-reality. That’s not life. If you got a bigger house and a nicer car and more money, you would still be you. There you are wherever you are. I’m just trying to love you. You’re the problem. You’re the problem. It doesn’t matter what car you drive. You’re the problem. It’s just you in a new car with all of this.
Here’s what’s counterintuitive. To surrender to Jesus can feel like death. Can we just have a quick real talk? I shared this with you last week. My tendency, if I feel powerless, is to shift up, to power up, and exert my will, and when that doesn’t work, I just get really angry. I get really angry. I’m just telling you that Jesus has been confronting me after 20-something years of following him about this again.
I hope you’re laughing because you know what I mean. I thought I’d be farther along than I am. I’m just awestruck at his patience. We’re having this same conversation again. I wouldn’t put up with this nonsense with my kids. I wouldn’t. If over a period of 20 years we’re having the same conversation every six weeks, there would be some serious repercussions for that.
Yet, here is God steadfast going, “I don’t want to break your hand, Matt, but I’m going to break it if you don’t lay this down. You’re trying to carry something you have not been designed to carry. That’s mine. It’s not yours. Lay it down.” There are times when the collision of Jesus’ authority with my desire feels like death if I let it go.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself as of late. This is just me taking a shot to be vulnerable. Weaponize this, if you want. I’ll be ready for it. Sometimes I don’t trust him. I just really wonder, “Will you really? Will you really?” What’s sad is I know no matter what I try to do I can’t get what I want. My own sweet conviction of Jesus putting me in this text for this weekend for what’s going on in my own life is a confrontation yet again. I want to whip myself, but he doesn’t want to whip me.
I think I am far more surprised at my failure than he is. There are certain things that are really dear to me that are hard for me trust him. I don’t know why. He has been so faithful. I don’t have any reason other than my own flesh and him loving me enough to sanctify me by showing me things I didn’t know were there.
I’m not trying to soft-sell you on anything. Following Christ is dying to your self. It’s self sacrifice. It’s being willing to be confronted a million times between here and glory knowing God is for you and not against you and to have him expose in you what you thought was no longer in you over and over and over again and being met by grace, met by steadfast love, met by kindness over and over and over again. That should make us marvel. Let’s pray.
Father, thank you for these men and women. I thank you for this text. I thank you that this is about you, Jesus. In you is life. In you is judgment. In you is hope, so we turn to you and put our eyes on you and ask that you would increase our faith and grow our hearts in affection for you. Will you restore awe? Will you restore wonderment? Will you restore beauty for us?
We are half-hearted creatures. For many of us, Christianity is an add-on. It’s not of no importance, and it’s not of infinite importance. It’s just moderately important, so we want to just tack it on like where we work out or what our hobbies are or the other things we have going on . I just ask in your mercy, Spirit of the living God, you would call us up and into life that is found in Christ. It’s for your beautiful name I pray, amen.