Feb 23, 2022
Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, setting Himself up for persecution. But It was all in His plan! The message He shared when He was given the stage is the most important message of all! (John 5:16-30) *********
Dear Most Holy God, we come to you today in awe of who you are. You are the God who sees us and who knows every last detail of our lives – and yet you love us anyway. In fact, Jesus, you loved us enough to die for us. We often glibly say, “I would die for that” – but you said it and meant it. You were persecuted and killed, unjustly and unfairly. You allowed your life to be taken in a painful and inhumane way so that you could take death on for each of us, coming back to life three days later, and conquering death once for all time – that we ALL might have the opportunity to spend eternity with you. God, as we delve into today’s scripture, I ask that you be more real to us than ever. Help us see and understand your heart more than we have before. Guide my words and guide our understanding. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
I mentioned at the beginning that this is an important lesson, and I cannot state that strongly enough. It’s also deep…so I’m going to ask you to really focus as you listen.
Last week, we saw Jesus heal a man who had been ill for 38 years. Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well…and he gave an excuse that getting well was not a possibility. But Jesus healed him anyway. Because Jesus has the power to heal and to choose whom He will heal.
Today, as we continue our study into John 5:16-30, we hear Jesus, in His own words, proclaim the sheer magnificence of His healing power and explain where that power comes from.
John 5:16 from the New Living Translation begins…
16 So the Jewish leaders began harassing[a] Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules.
Ugh…Jesus!! You knew the Jewish leaders would come after you for healing on the Sabbath! Why couldn’t you have healed the man on a different day!
I’ve gotta admit…sometimes I feel like Peter – questioning God! But c’mon…! In a Bible study recently we were exploring the question – would you rather have the resurrected Jesus who has gone to heaven and left the Holy Spirit to dwell in you – as we have now? Or would you rather walk with Jesus in the flesh on this earth – able to touch Him and have a one-on-one conversation with Him?
That’s a hard question! I like the Holy Spirit…but how cool would it be to take a walk with Jesus? To call Him on the phone when you are having a hard day and ask Him to go for coffee? To be able to say – I’m going to spend the afternoon with Jesus – He always helps me through things.
Did Jesus HAVE set the wheels in motion to lead to His death?? He was God…why didn’t He stick around for us!
Hmmm…we will explore that later…
But for right now, I want to recognize that by healing that man on the Sabbath, Jesus knew EXACTLY what He was doing! He WAS opening a can of worms, giving the Pharisees ammunition to take Him to His death. But He was also setting the stage for an incredible teaching opportunity….
17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.”
With that one statement, Jesus proclaimed HIMSELF equal with God! You see, Jesus didn’t say…my Father in Heaven…nor did He use the acceptable formal term “OUR” Father…no – Jesus claimed familiarity with God. One definition of the term ‘my Father’ that Jesus used states, “one who has infused his own spirit into others.”
So Jesus claimed familiarity with God…And THEN He put Himself on equal footing with God saying…”He is always working, and so am I.”
The Pharisees had added strict and ridiculous rules to what constituted prohibited-work on the Sabbath, BUT they also acknowledged that GOD works on the Sabbath – in fact He works constantly. And they reasoned that it was okay for God to work on the Sabbath.
Instead of proclaiming that healing and caring for others is beyond the Sabbath rules of work, Jesus stated that since it was ok for GOD to work on the Sabbath, it was ok for Him as well.
You can see how this was blaspheme in the eyes of the Pharisees. Jesus was first, proclaiming familiarity with God, and then, He was putting HIMSELF on equal footing with God…
18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
Now that He had their attention, Jesus further explained His own identity…proclaiming that He and God are inseparable, and His power is greater than they could imagine. He continued in verse 19…
… “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished.
Building the tension or the excitement, depending on how you look at it… Jesus reveals that not only is He familiar with God, on equal footing with Him, and the two are inseparable…but He now proclaims Himself as the life-giver…verse 21…
21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.
Only God can give life. Jesus agrees and acknowledges this. But in the same breath, He states that He Himself has the power to give life to anyone He wants. This is where we begin to see that Jesus IS God. You see, our God is a Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three in one. A fact that is simply too much for our minds to comprehend – but is truth, nonetheless. For if God is the source of life, yet Jesus is also the life-giver who chooses who He gives life to, not only is Jesus familiar with, on equal footing with, and inseparable from God, Jesus IS God.
And Jesus substantiates this fact further… not only is He the life-giver, but Jesus explains that He is also the judge…again…a role reserved for God alone.
22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.
Let me repeat that…
Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.
To honor God, we MUST honor Jesus … as the Son of God, and as God Himself. We must respect His power and authority…His power and authority that comes from God and IS God’s…
And Jesus teaches, there are ramifications involved in choosing to honor Jesus as God…
24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
When we choose to honor Jesus, believing that He IS God, even though we sin – which we all inevitably do and will do – we will NOT be condemned – or sentenced to death – but we will enter into eternal life WITH God. Because Jesus has chosen to give us life.
Allow me to simplify this: When we believe in Jesus as God, Jesus, who has the power, will give us eternal life.
That’s a pretty good deal! All we have to do is believe and honor Jesus as God!
Jesus explains this power further…verse 25…
25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. 27 And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man.[b] 28 Don’t be so surprised! (I love that! I imagine Jesus was responding to the shocked look on their faces…) Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, 29 and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life,
But it IS an all-or-nothing proposition. Jesus continues, in verse 29..
and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. 30 I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.
Whew! Do you see why this is an important teaching? Jesus had set the scene…
He had healed a man who didn’t even believe He could be healed. Jesus alone made the choice and gifted the man with healing. And He did it on the Sabbath…in front of the Pharisees…whom He knew would question and attack Him. He did it all so that He could share the truth of who He was.
Jesus is God’s Son. Jesus is God. Jesus is the life-giver who not only offers eternal life, but who offers ABUNDANT eternal life to all those who proclaim Him as Lord. And Jesus is also the judge, who will NOT accept as holy those who do NOT come to Him in obedience and submission.
So back to that Bible-study question…would I rather have Jesus beside me in the flesh or have the Holy Spirit always with me. Does it matter? Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both God! Even though Jesus is currently not available in the flesh for a phone call or a cup of coffee, He IS always available, via a whisper or a thought. We CAN have a discussion with Him in prayer and hear His voice as we read scripture. The Holy Spirit also empowers us to reach out to each other on God’s behalf – to comfort, guide, teach, and love. One day I WILL hug Jesus…my life-giver, my judge, my friend…my GOD! But until that time, I can hold onto His hands, close my eyes and gaze into His eyes, and listen for His voice, because I HAVE accepted Jesus as my God and He has welcomed me into eternal life. Let’s pray…
Dear Most Precious Holy God…how can we say thank you enough? God I ask that you open the eyes and hearts of each individual listening so that we all may recognize and claim Jesus as our God, our Lord and Savior, our judge and life-giver. I thank you for this teaching today. I thank you for your life and your resurrection that brings us into your presence. Guide us and lead us as we walk through this day. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.