Introduction: Importance of Thesis.
One thing that can be very tempting when reading a book of the Bible is to forget the overarching purpose of the author. If you had any sense of formal education, then you were taught to find out the thesis of a book. The thesis helps us understand what they author is trying to say or prove. The unique thing about John’s Gospel is the thesis statement is at the end of the book—“…these are written to that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20.31). This is what John is trying to say and prove to us.
In order to prove his thesis John has been interweaving signs and statements together. So, what we saw the last two weeks was a sign from Jesus. This week we will see Jesus will couple this sign with strong theological assertions. We know from John 5.18 that Jesus is claiming to be equal with God, which means He is another god like the God of Israel or He is the God of Israel in flesh. As we examine John’s statements today we will see Jesus is saying the latter. Jesus opens this section by saying, “Truly, truly,” which means, “I tell you the truth without the possibility of contradiction.” So, what Jesus is going to do is give us 3 unique attributes He has that make Him equal with God.
Theme: Jesus’ exclusive divine attributes should change the way we live.
1. The Exclusivity Of Jesus—John 5.19-20.
The first statement Jesus makes is He has a unique, exclusive relationship with God. What God the Father does, Jesus Christ, the Son of God does the same things—READ John 5.19-20. Pastor Dave spoke briefly mentioned this last week, that when Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working” in verse 17 was a claim to His divinity. When we look back at Genesis 1 we know the Bible tells God rested on the 7th day, but clearly we believe He was still holding back the oceans, and providing oxygen for our first parents, the animals and plants. God did not cease working just because He stopped to admire everything He had created.
Here is what Jesus is saying, “Not only did God and I create the world together, but we also work on everything together.” Perhaps you have met someone in your life that you become so close with that you can almost think like each other. And if you work with this person you can do things together with a high level of efficiency. You truly are working together. But even though you might be almost identical in thought and action you know it is NOT perfect. That is not what Jesus is describing here. God the Father and God the Son are in PERFECT unison. Pasto Kent Hughes says it this way, “Jesus’ claim to equality with the Father demands that we see two hearts beating as one” (p. 167). Another pastor said it like this, “Jesus is not claiming ‘equality with God’ in the sense of being a second rival deity” (p. 98, Milne). Jesus shares an exclusive relationship with God, making Him equal with God.
2. The Power Of Jesus—John 5.21, 24-26.
As we think about God the Father and God the Son sharing the same thoughts, and doing the same things, we move into Jesus second statement about His divine attributes—READ John 5.21, 24-26. If I understand Jesus right, I think He is trying to highlight for us He shares the same power as God. For instance, the Greek word peripateo first appeared in John 5.8, but appears again in John 5.29. The can be translated, “WALK,” but it can also be translated, “LIVE.” We also see the Greek word egeiro, which means “RAISE UP” appears in John 5.8 and 21. Why is all this important? Well, because I think what John is trying to tell us is the same power that gave the crippled man the ability to walk and live is the same power that will cause God’s people to be raised from the dead and live.
If we pay attention to the details of what Jesus says here then we see another exclusive thing about Jesus’ power. Here all these statements again, “whoever HEARS my WORD” (John 5.24), “the dead will HEAR the VOICE of the Son of God” (John 5.25), and “an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will HEAR his VOICE and come out” (John 5.28-29a). One of the primary ways we know Jesus is God is by the POWER of His words. Go back and look at Genesis 1 when and you will the author uses this linguistic rhythm, “And God SAID.” After God says something it comes into being. Our words are powerful but they are not that powerful. You and I cannot speak things into being. We don’t walk into the emergency room; hear the doctor say, “You are going to be fine,” and then expect to be fully healed. No, the doctor’s power is not merely their words. When God speaks He is doing. In the words of Art Azurdia, “God’s speaking is His doing.” The writer of Hebrews puts it this way, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1.3a). Truly there is a unique POWER in the WORD of God, and Jesus not only says He shares this attribute but repeatedly demonstrates it.
As we dwell richly on this truth, what does it mean for us, and others? Thinking about this means that if we want to truly experience the power of God then we need to immerse ourselves in God’s Word. If we want to see those care about transformed then we need share with them the same Word that has the power to change us. Even when it may not feel like we are doing much of anything to ourselves, or others, when we are speaking God’s Word we are doing something.
3. The Judgment Of Jesus—John 5.22, 27-30.
We now come to the final exclusive attribute Jesus shares with God and does not share with God. What do I mean by that? Well let’s read the text together first—READ John 5.22, 27-30. On the one hand we know from text like Genesis 18.25 that God is the “JUDGE” of all the earth. But in our text here we see that this is exclusive attribute the Son of God has. The phrase we want to pay attention here is, “HAS GIVEN.” God the Father and God the Son have agreed that the One who will serve as “JUDGE” in this relationship is God the Son. It is in things like this we begin to really see the exclusive claims of the Christian faith. While other religions like Islam and Judaism believe in a monotheistic God it is not the same God the Christians worship. Anyone who makes such a claim insults Muslims, Jews, and Christians.
I know in a world where we see so much hostility and division we do not add another log on the fire. But dear friends unity built around lies is not unity. Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile wrote a blog this week on something similar. With the rising tension around ethnicity Thabiti reminds us there can be two types of responses: peace-breaking and peace-faking. Listen to what he says about the peace-faking group:
“Sometimes people assert they are ‘color blind’ or that the Bible is ‘color blind’ as a way of peace-faking and fleeing conflict… The ‘color blind’ approach proceeds on a misdiagnosis of the problem. Seeing color in the physical sense of seeing is not the problem. Unless one is actually blind, we all see color…Anyone denying these things…is simply being delusional or dishonest. It’s ironic…‘color blindness’ is a flight response, overt racism is a fight response. But they both end up saying to people of color, “I don’t see you and I don’t value you.” They both fail to accept the Christian responsibility to love neighbor. They both perpetuate injustice either by actively committing it in the case of overt racism or by actively denying it in the case of ‘color blindness.’ The only way to live responsibly in the world is to commit ourselves to the kind of peacemaking that begins with things as they really are.”— When Color Blind Is Truth Blind
In our desires for peace we cannot distort, dilute, or be dishonest about the truth.
Christians believe in One God with 3 distinct personhoods—Father, Son and Spirit. All 3 are equally God but also 3 distinct persons. The fact God the Father “HAS GIVEN” the Son a unique place within the Godhead demonstrates this idea. So, what does it mean for Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to have this exclusive role within the Godhead? Jesus clues us into that by claiming the title, “Son of Man,” which is illusion to Daniel 7.9-14. When we consider the context of that passage we know Israel are suffering as a result of their own sin and the sin of others. Daniel ends up seeing a vision of a future time when God will rule the nations justly. God will correct the wrong in Israel and the wrong of their oppressors. What Daniel 7 tells us is God will give this assignment to the “Son of Man.” Jesus is saying, “I am the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision. I am the One God has chosen to rule all nations as a righteous just Judge. Everything that is wrong I will make right.”
As we think about all of this for our time what this means is that Jesus Christ has called to repent of the wrongs we have committed, but has also called those who have committed wrongs against us to repent. Jesus Christ, the Son of God is setting up a humane, gentle, gracious government and has called the Christian to be His ambassadors. If Jesus is the Son of God, then it has bearing on the way we live.