The focus of chapter five of John’s gospel centers on the vindication of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Specifically we see 3 Christological clarifications that serve to vindicate Jesus’ person and demonstrate his authority. OR if that is too wordy, three theological uppercuts that prove that Jesus is God and he can do and say whatever he wants.
The three clarifications in John chapter 5 are:
- Christ’s Special Relationship with the Father (5.19-23)
- Christ’s Sovereign Authority over humanity (5.24-30)
- Christ’s Sufficient Testimony of authenticity (5.31-47)
The theme of the book of John is expressed in the 20th chapter as we read these words: John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. So we see here that the Apostle John was writing to communicate the person of Jesus Christ to his audience with the expressed purpose of producing believe and life in Jesus.
In our context here Jesus heals a man who has been ailing for 38 years. And this serves to infuriate the Jews as the healing was accomplished on a Sabbath (for it was a feast day). They were mad at the lame man because he ‘carried’ his mat and aggravated with Jesus for healing him and telling him to carry his mat. Well What does Jesus say back? Joh 5:17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”
Basically Jesus says, “Me and My Father are just doing what we have always done…what is your problem?!” In so doing Jesus appeals to the activity of God and puts himself on the same page with God…even working in concert with him. God has enjoyed a Sabbath rest since the last day of Creation (Gen.2.2-3; Heb. 4.1, 3-5), but has still done good for men, even showing mercy on the Sabbath. Even the Rabbis of Jesus’ day would have concluded that God could not break the Sabbath, for God is active all the time (Sabbath or not) and Jesus, himself being God incarnate, is just doing what he has always done.
The Jews were furious. Because in there minds there is one thing worse than breaking the Sabbath, and that is blasphemy…speaking untruth about God, and they understood Jesus as saying that he was indeed God. This infuriated them! Notice that Jesus does not correct them. Instead he proceeds to, for the rest of the chapter, explain the special relationship that he has with the Father. And in an ironic way the Jews here are telling Jesus that he is committing the supreme sin (making himself God)…the irony is that they are disagreeing with God incarnate, rejecting him and so therefore rejecting God…so in an ironic twist the Jews’ charge of Blasphemy against Jesus is itself Blasphemy!!
What follows in verses 19-47 is Christ’s detailed explanation as to who he is and what he is doing and what ensues is a thorough theological spanking by the Savior for the religious leaders’ persistent perversion of truth in the name of their tradition. And so we have Jesus pivot on this emotionally charged situation to vindicate his character, this while indicting the Jews for their devastating sin of rejecting God.
- Christ’s Special Relationship with the Father 5.19-23
The context of Christ’s work is his union with the Father. This is demonstrated by four “for” statements in these verses, it is distinct in the original with the Gk. Word “gar” underscoring this special union with the Father they are found in vv.19, 20, 21, 22..look at verse 19:
The Father fully discloses himself to Christ (5.19d) Everything that Jesus does and says is consistent with what the Father has shown him. Therefore, Jesus is accurately representing God to them, the Jews’ problem then does not rest with Jesus of Nazareth but with the God of heaven.
The Father’s love for Christ motivates full disclosure of activity (5.20) The point here is that it is Love that motivates both the disclosure of God’s acts and the Son’s proper response to God. So if you are looking at Jesus and thinking, “what is he doing? Or why is he doing this?” the Answer, unequivocally is, that it is because the Father is loving the Son!! The Dependence and trust and submission of Jesus is so perfect that he is revealing the Father. All that he does, wills, feels, thinks, is perfectly revealing the Father. And further, the reason why Jesus is a man in the first place is to manifest or show this love. But mark it down, the explanation and manifestation of anything divine, whether it be a healing or even the miracle of life itself, or a word of Scripture, the cross, the resurrection….all of these are rooted in the Fathers ongoing satisfaction and delight in Jesus. You can go ahead and attach this verse, John 5.20…the FATHER LOVES The SON as the bumper sticker for everything that Jesus does!! Why does he do it/?? To perfectly glorify the Father, this pleases the Father infinitely and so we see and understand somewhat that the motive for revelation and everything divine is the Father’s love for Jesus!!
The Father shares resurrecting ability with Christ raises (5.21) We see Jesus saying in v.19 that “he can do nothing of Himself” but here he is saying he can raise the dead. It is a statement such as this that shows the unseverable union between Jesus and the Father. The will of the Son is so linked to the will of the Father that even the Son’s desires are representative of the Father’s. Jesus shares the divine power and prerogative.
The Father has given Christ the right to judge (5.22) This just makes sense that if the Son can give life he can also judge! Again, this is incredibly ironic, because the religious guys are judging the judge. Jesus is righteousness, holiness, love, and justice incarnate and they are judging him. This reminds me of the book of Job where we read of God saying something we’d find applicable: Job 40:7-8 7 “Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me. 8 “Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified? And why? Why does the Son have this title as judge, why has the Father given this judgment to him? Look at verse 23: Joh 5:23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
Here Jesus gives the Jews a jet tour through the mind and heart of God, to explain the highest affections and joy of the God-head!! And in so doing he shows the Jew’s utter unfamiliarity and dislike for what God is doing. Their words indict their idolatry. Jesus has taken off the gloves and pummeled this crowd of religious folks. They have had their legs of tradition and interpretation knocked out from under them, they must be theologically dizzy, but the Son of God does not stop, in fact he doesn’t even take a breath, he just keeps pounding away at their unbelief.
In the 2nd Christological clarification that vindicate Jesus’ person and demonstrate his supremacy we see..
- Christ’s Sovereign Authority over humanity v. 24-30
Joh 5:24-25. There is accountability for hearing & Responding to Christ’s words! Jesus just got done saying that the Son also gives life to whom He wishes (v.21). Now we learn who the Son gives life to….the one who “believes Him who sent” Jesus…This is very interesting because we see that Jesus is obviously the sovereign source of life (as the life giver) but also there is the responsibility here on the one who hears Jesus to believe. Further, they are accountable for either believing or not believing. What does he say? -he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life…he does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Some may say, “hey, that’s not fair, I can’t believe because the Son has not “wished” for me to believe. If it was just God’s will then I would. The reason for needing to be rescued from judgment and needing to have eternal life is your sin!! Judgment is reserved for sinners because they are sinners not because God has not elected them. The Bible teaches both divine sovereignty and human responsibility (in harmony by the way).
Sinners are not charging heaven to worship and honor Jesus only to be turned away by a mean God who saying, it is not the son’s pleasure that you worship me, go to Hell! No, it is quite the other way, sinners are running headlong to hell, mocking Jesus all the way, worshipping themselves and hating God, and God then graciously extends his redeeming arm and arrests the sinner and says, “come forth!!” You will live in spite of your sin and unbelief because I wish according to my good pleasure and kindness to give you life…
Well how can the Son give life, whether eternal or physical or otherwise, how can he?
Verse 26 answers this for us: Joh 5:26 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;
Jesus is self existent. He is God, not dependent on anyone or anything for life, he is in fact God. Just as God is referred to as the “living God” so to we have Christ here who it is also said that “in Him was life” (Jn.1.4) and why Christ is proclaimed as eternal life (JN.17.3), he is the way the truth and the LIFE…Jesus is self-existent, and in this self-existence you find supremacy of person and vindication of power. How can Jesus do what he does? He is supreme and the Father is pleased with it as so. The refutation of those who reject him is clear, Jesus’ favored position of preeminence and supremacy combined with the Father’s unending satisfaction and delight in the Son serve to rebuke the critics and vindicate and proclaim the glory of Jesus.
Jesus tells us here that he is in a position of authority over man because of his self existence…but now also, because of his position as judge….
Joh 5:27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.
Jesus is Judge. Again, the irony drips off the pages…you may “judge” me know, but you have no basis to do so…because the Father has granted that I am the judge, says Jesus, and I will judge your very works…Jesus said in Luk 12:5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!
In Christ’s Supremacy there is authority over humanity…
- Christ’s Sufficient Testimony of authenticity v.31-47
Jesus makes it clear that there is sufficient testimony as to his authenticity. He is not lacking in support.
The Testimony of another (31-32)—
The Testimony of John the Baptist (33-35)
The Testimony of Christ’s works (36)
The Testimony of the Father (37-38)
What follows are 3 damning….Indictments against the JEWS…
You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.
§ (v. 37b)You Have Not Heard His Word: This makes sense. Since Jesus speaks the very words of God and they do not listen to him, they have not listened to the supporting testimony of the Father! Jesus calls the religious guys deaf.
§ (v. 37c) You Have Not Seen His Form Well they have surely not ever seen God and now they are looking at God incarnate and are ready to murder him, they have not seen God. Jesus calls the religious guys blind. So they are spiritually deaf and blind…thirdly…
§ (v. 38a) You Not Have His Word: They do not have his word. Since Jesus Christ is the word of God (1.1) and they look at him as a sinner, they do not have the word. They have missed the point. They are spiritually deaf, blind and now broke. They have nothing.
§ (v. 38b) You Do Not Believe: They do not believe Him who He sent. They did not trust Jesus…they missed him. They spent their lives pouring over the Scriptures, entrenched with Judiasim and when YHWH puts on flesh and comes to their very town, they rebuke him for not conforming to their rules, for not being like them. And this is the hammer folks Jesus calls them spiritually dead.
Christ has said…
You have not heard…you are spiritually deaf
You have not seen…you are spiritually blind
You do not have the Word…you are spiritually broke
You do not believe…you are spiritually dead.
God has graciously swung open the door of Grace and sent his Son into their midst and they demonstrate they are dead.
The Omniscient Judge is rendering his verdict…
Well Jesus isn’t done…
Look at verse 39: Joh 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;
- The Testimony of the Scriptures (39-47)
The Jews did not need Christ to exhort them to read/study more…they would’ve had the Hebrew text tattooed on their foreheads…for they were experts in reading/studying…but it was the motivation, interpretation and application of the Scripture that was lacking!! Jesus takes a full swing at this Piñata!
At the time of Christ it was held by Rabbis that the more they studied the more they would live (Hillel), the more they gave to study here the more they would get in heaven.
Jesus points out here that final acceptance before God is not based upon works, and life is not earned by studying…they had an incorrect perception.
See the problem is this, the point of reading & studying is to get to know the giver of life, the one who has life in himself, Jesus Christ. The point of the Scriptures is Christ not them…and this was the problem!!
Look at verse 40 Jesus says, “and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.”
They will spend literally hours and hours pouring over the Scriptures but they will not spend one minute to come to Christ.
You know why? It is because they find personal value in their studies…they find merit there, and Jesus is the end of all merit and the eternal reservoir of merit all at the same time…he is the pride killer and the life giver!!
They could not come to Jesus because they did not value Him..they valued themselves and their religion…
Let’s consider quickly here a couple of observations about the dead religious guy and see if we have anything in common:
- They were very disciplined in their Bible Reading
- They were committed to prayer
- They were bold
- They were zealous
- They were seemingly committed to YHWH
- They were willing to confront others for lack of conformity
- They were always at the religious events
- They were biblically literate
- They were up to date on contemporary theology
- Their lives were characterized by their religion
What I just gave you was a profile of those who are judged by Jesus.
All of these things are not bad in and of themselves but they are bad when they are stained by a rejection of and a lack of love for Jesus. See all of these things I have mentioned become religious works before God in effort to earn favor, they thought they had life in them!!
But the very author of life stood before them, offering life and they refused. Isn’t that what the text says?: Joh 5:40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
They depended on themselves and so found no need for Jesus. He is not beautiful, desirable, valued, or loved…he becomes a hindrance. So as a result, they tried to discredit, dishonor, devalue, and dismiss Him, He upsets them because he judges them!!
What about you? Do you love Jesus?
· Do you read your Bible to rid your guilt or earn heaven…. or because you love Jesus?
· Do you pray to rid your guilt or earn heaven….or because you love Jesus?
· Do you do ministry to rid your guilt or earn heaven….or because you love Jesus?
· Do you evangelize to rid your guilt or earn heaven….or because you love Jesus?
· Do you give money to the church to rid your guilt or earn heaven….or because you love Jesus?
· Do you come here to OBC or another church to rid your guilt or earn heaven….or because you love Jesus?
See you can do all these things and still hate him, the Jews proved it!
They loved the glory that came from one another, that is the approval, affirmation, acceptance from others. Listen to what Jesus says: Joh 5:42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.
Jesus with his omniscient eyes penetrates their hearts and says they are not lovers of God but lovers of self!!
Jesus goes on to say:
Joh 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?
Jesus says that if your aim is the glory of men you cannot believe. Let that marinate. You cannot believe.
So why do you do what you do? What are your motives? Is it to be seen by men? Is it to earn favor with God? Is it to maintain favor with God? Or is it because you love Jesus?
If it is anything other than acceptance and love for Jesus than you are in the same sandals as the Jews here and headed for your own head on collision with the one who said: Joh 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?
In John 5 Jesus has given us more than just an answer to a question, he has taken us for a tour of the divine mind and affections, he has demonstrated the outworking of his own authority and he has exposed the faultiness of works based righteousness even by those who seem very very biblical.
In doing all of this Jesus is vindicating his character and demonstrating his supremacy. He has shown us that the motive for everything the Father reveals and shows is because he loves the Son. The Father loves Jesus.
And make know mistake about it, Jesus desires your affections, he desires your life!
He is the unfading delight of heaven and it is his revealed will that he be that of you also.
So take this confrontation by Jesus, though it is a historical narrative of events that occurred in the past, it is eternal truth so it confronts you and I today…so take this confrontation by Jesus to check your own heart and affections to see what you think of him. Are you arguing with the one who will not tolerate competition or are you praising him for his supremacy and sufficiency?